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Three times a charm!  Each of the three evenings that my husband and I have been downtown, to The French Press, www.thefrenchpresslafayette.com we have absolutely loved Chef Justin Girouard’s fresh and original “Tasting Menu”…Always different, creative and delicious!!!  Throw in the great atmosphere, that takes you back in time – as you look around and realize that you are dining in the old Tribune Printing Building (yes, where they printed all of our old yearbooks and much more!)  You look around and notice that they kept remnants of the building intack…just love it!

Atmosphere…yes!  Then you are greeted by wait staff that is absolutely wonderful – and, it does matter… I always say that they can make or break your evening.  These guys and gals really make a difference – well spoken, tastefully available and knowledgable about the menu and wines.  I don’t think that they ever receive enough acknowledgment for the service that they provide…can you tell that I love good servers?  I do!  From the hostess to the bus boy…if they are doing a good job – let them know (and leave a generous tip)!  If not, give them a break (and whisper in their ear – they just might pay attention) everyone has a bad day!

On to the food…

1st Course

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon, Scallions and Pumpkin Seed Oil –  Sooo delicious and the perfect balance of sweet and savory!  The toppings of the fresh crisp bacon and scallions with the swirl of the light fresh pumpkin seed oil sitting on top of this deep rich winter soup was just perfect…left you wanting more!

2nd Course

Potato and Parmesan Gnocchi with Truffle Oil and Louisiana Crab – I can really appreciate good gnocchi, now that I have conquered my fear of making these wonderful little fluffy nuggets…and these were fantastic!  There is just something  about these special little potato “dumplings/pasta” dreams that I can’t get enough of.  Then combine them with a sauce of rich cream, parmesan, crabmeat and just a hint of truffle oil – to die for!  Or maybe the top of my list for “last suppers”!

3rd Course

Louisiana Blue Crab Salad with Basil Israeli Couscous, Louisiana Satsuma Vinaigrette and Radish – The perfect bright and refreshing taste that you need after the delicious richness of the first 2 courses…Plated as a beautiful round mold of fresh crabmeat, tiny bits of locally grown sweet satsumas and little pearls of couscous sitting in the center of a spiral of finely sliced fresh radishes and additional bits of satsuma – all lightly topped with a fresh satsuma vinaigrette – wonderful!

4th Course

Prime Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese, Carmelized Purple Onion, Crisp Potato Cakes, and Cognac Demi – Oh my goodness!  Just when you think it can’t get any better than the first 3 courses, out comes the “grand-daddy” of the night!  A perfectly prepared beautiful filet with a tiny bit of blue cheese – just enough to get the flavor but not overpowering…nestled on top of sweet carmelized onions and the best thinly grated crispy potato cake that I have ever eaten!  Then top it all off with a rich cognac demi-glace sauce – Like I said, “Oh my goodness”!

5th Course

Szechuan Shortbread with Ice Cream and Berry-Champagne Compote – Thinking that you really can’t do that last course, you see this beautiful fresh plate sitting in front of you…ok, maybe one more “bite”!  I just love shortbread because of its salty/sweet flavor, then topped with the sweet house made vanilla ice cream and . of the berry-champagne compote – it was the perfect end to a wonderful meal!

As we were eating our 4th Course,  Manager (and wife of Chef Justin Girouard) Margaret Girouard came by our table to introduce herself and make sure that we were enjoying everything (which, of course, we were!!!) Margaret seems to make it a point to visit all of the tables for a short time during the evening to introduce herself and check on the quality of your experience…great touch, Margaret!  We loved visiting with you…Chef Justin is lucky to have you in front, taking care of the dining guests!!!

The French Press is also open Wednesday – Friday for breakfast and lunch 7 am – 2 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am – 2 pm. It is a “happening” place for both services…and breakfast really slides right into lunch, so it is one continuous serve. Fine Dining along with their Tasting Menu is available on Friday and Saturday Nights from 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm (It’s always best to make a reservation, so you won’t be disappointed!)

The only thing that I am sorry about is that I had left my camera at home and only had my iPhone to take pictures…they came out terrible!  Actually, too dark to use in this post…would have been an injustice to these beautifully plated courses.  But, trust me – it is all fabulous!

As we were walking out of this old and very well renovated building (stuffed to the gill!) and getting into our car, my husband said…”This is food to write about…talk about food that works!”  So, here you are, Robert!

The French Press – if you haven’t tried it yet…please do….

I just love tasting menus, and always order them (when available) because you get to taste so many of the chef’s specialties in small portions ….literally a “taste” or a small plate of each item.  Works perfectly for Robert and I!  Looking for a Tasting Menu in Lafayette?  Try The French Press…you won’t be disappointed!  Congratulations and thank you to Chef Justin Girouard and your gracious wife Margaret for creating such a warm inviting environment that serves “cutting” edge dishes, but still manages to maintain the integrity of our South Louisiana Culture in every single dish that you serve – that is what I call success in my book!