Colorado Springs, CO: Inflexible, Prima Donna Chef Rubbed Me The Wrong Way … Au Revoir La Baguette

La Baguette
4440 N. Chestnut Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Phone: (719) 599-0686
Prices: $$$$

Having traveled extensively in France, I have come to love French food (we have none in Lawrence, Kansas) and have been wanting to try La Baguette since I was in the Springs for my mom’s passing and funeral in February 2015. Being my first return since then, I decided to take my son there for dinner on my last night before heading home.

Their prices were reasonable and the menu had all of my traditional favorites, including escargots, fondue, mussels, veal, beef Bourguignon, cassoulet, steak Diane and steak frites, but the side dishes were either boring or odd. For example, the veal dish, which sounds exquisite, comes with quinoa pilaf … yuck … and the beef Bourguignon is accompanied by boiled potatoes … blah, so I asked the very nice server if it were possible to substitute mashed potatoes or French fries for the quinoa or boiled potatoes. After all, we were going to blow a C-note on dinner for two, including appetizers, entrees, and a bottle of wine, so it seemed like a simple request. Well, I guess it was not because her answer was: “the chef doesn’t like substitutions, so mashed potatoes would be an additional $6”.

Six bucks to substitute mashed potatoes for quinoa, really? I was not hearing things because she confirmed it with an “I’m sorry, but those are the rules” look on her face. I was not about to eat quinoa pilaf with a lovely veal or boiled potatoes with a rich beef Bourguignon and I definitely was not paying an additional $6 for mashed potatoes, so we left. Their prima donna of a chef should think of his customers more than his vanity and pride, after all, La Baguette is a strip mall restaurant on Chestnut in Colorado Springs, not a bistrot on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Get a clue chef.

Being rather late and hungry, we stopped at Carrabba’s on the way back to Monument and blew a C-Note there, enjoying appetizers, entrees, and a bottle of wine, leaving satiated and content because they were more than happy to make substitutions without charging an extra arm and a leg. C’est la vie … au revoir La Baguette!

CombatCritic Gives La Baguette 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … The Only Reason They Did Not Get 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME Was Because Of The Nice Female Server … More Bombs Are Better!
Two Bombs Equates To
“Tits Up” 

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Title: Colorado Springs, CO: Inflexible, Prima Donna Chef Rubbed Me The Wrong Way … Au Revoir La Baguette

Key Words: La Baguette, la, baguette, French, Bourguignon, escargots, France, Colorado Springs, Colorado, springs, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Tango-Uniform = “Tits-Up”

A Little Slice of Bordeaux On The Costa Del Sol

Le Bordeaux
Avenida Antonio Belon 26 
29602 Marbella, Spain
Phone: +34 952 85 80 49
Website: Le Bordeaux
Prices: € € € 

A nice couple from Bordeaux, Christine and Marc, come to Spain, open an aptly named French restaurant, and turn out some excellent, authentic cuisine using only the freshest ingredients and voilà, you have Le Bordeaux.

I love French food and in my part of the world, French restaurants, particularly good French restaurants, are hard to find. So when I spot one, I always check out the menu. Stopping to view the menu by the door one evening, Marc was very friendly and helpful, explaining why the mussels were not available (the weather is too hot) and that he only serves escargots when he can get fresh snails, so I told him I would come back.

It was July 14th, French National Day, the equivalent of our 4th of July when I did, so Christine told me that Marc had escargot available for the celebration. After bringing me the French equivalent of tapas, four small pieces of quiche, Christine took my order. Escargot (€8) as a starter, beef tenderloin with Bordeaux mushroom sauce and hand cut French fries with Bearnaise sauce (€19) for my main, and  a bottle of Bordeaux Superieur  Chateaux Bel Air 2009 (€16.50).

The escargot, six of them, were perfectly cooked, tender and succulent in the buttery garlic sauce inside each shell. Accompanied by the soft, warm French bread, I was able to soak up every last bit of garlic butter. The only problem being that Christine had forgotten to bring me the small escargot fork to pry the snails out of their shells, so my starter was temporarily interrupted … oh well, c‘est la vie.

My steak and fries arrived shortly thereafter and having fasted throughout the day in preparation for a feast, I was slightly disappointed by the size of the cut of meat, six ounces at most. The presentation was nice and the sauce delicious, a creamy mushroom sauce albeit disappointingly lacking in mushrooms. There were just three and quite small at that. The meat was tender, juicy, and cooked perfectly “medium” as I had ordered. The potatoes were plentiful, crispy and hot and the Bearnaise sauce a nice accompaniment. 

Finally, the wine was wonderful and at just €16.50 (less than $20) a terrific bargain. A deep red, it was fruity, dry, and light as a good Bordeaux should be and an excellent addition to a very good meal.

Not exactly cheap at €43.50 for my dinner, the meal was a good value. Fresh, quality ingredients professionally prepared in one of my favorite cuisines, my meal at Le Bordeaux was quite enjoyable and I recommend you try Christine and Marc’s little slice of Bordeaux on the Costa del Sol.
CombatCritic Gives 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better! 


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Title: A Little Slice of Bordeaux On The Costa Del Sol

Key Words: Le Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France, French, Marbella, Spain, Malaga, Costa del Sol, costa, sol, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide, menu

Denver, Colorado: Le Central Is "Le Bombe"

Le Central (French)

112 E 8th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
Southwest, Capitol Hill
Phone: (303) 863-8094
Prices: $$$$$

Escargots En Brioche – $7

Le Central is one of my favorite restaurants … anywhere … and I have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the 39 countries I have visited so far. I was in India a week ago, but found out that my mom was hospitalized and dying, so I made my way over a 72 hour period to be by her side in Colorado Springs when she died on February 12th, 2015. Long story short, I was taking my wife to the Denver airport so she could return to work and we decided to stop at Le Central for their Happy Hour menu.

We have been gone for seven years, but the place has not changed except for the being open in the afternoon with a limited, but exceptional menu. They offer a $3 glass of wine, escargots, crepes, their fabulous mussels and French fries (moules frites).
Moules Et Frites “Portugaise” – $12.95

I has a glass of pinot noir ($3), which was excellent, the escargots in brioche ($7), and the moules Portuguese ($12.95).  The pinot noir was dry, a deep red, and robust. The escargots were superb as usual and I mopped-up every last drop with the wonderful French baguette.  The Portuguese mussels were excellent with slices of chorizo and chunks of fresh tomato in the white wine based broth infused with garlic although the broth was not as plentiful as I would have liked as was the case in years past. The frites were excellent, perfectly salted and hot, but by the time I de-shelled all of my mussels, they were not as hot as I would have liked … DRAT!

The prices have gone up a bit since we were there last, but Le Central is still an outstanding value.  The service is always excellent, the food sublime and very reasonable, the wine list extensive, and the ambience country French.  If you have not tried Le Central, you do not know what you are missing!
CombatCritic Gives Le Central the Coveted 10 Out of 10 Bombs … Plus de Bombes Sont Mieux! (More Bombs Are Better)
Le Central on Urbanspoon

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Title: Le Central Is “Le Bombe”
Key Words: Le Central, le, central, French, France, restaurant, menu, escargots, wine, moules, frites, fries, Denver, Colorado, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Chez Yasu (Topeka, Kansas): Good, Overpriced French Cuisine With A Japanese Flare

Chez Yasu (Topeka, Kansas): Good, Overpriced French Cuisine With A Japanese Flare

Chez Yasu

2701 SW 17th St
Topeka, KS 66604

Prices: $$$$$

A French restaurant in Topeka, Kansas with a Japanese chef? Seems a bit odd, but hey, it works!

We arrived exactly on time for our 7:30pm reservation, but had to wait 15 minutes for our table … STRIKE 1! While we waited, we had a view of the prep area where a server was taking cherry tarts out of a box that looked like something from Sam’s Club … STRIKE 2! The prices on the menu were significantly higher than the menu on their website … STRIKE 3! Normally an “out”, I have to admit that we enjoyed our dinner and may very well return to try Chez Yasu again … MAYBE.

I love escargots (snails – $7.95 online, $8.95 in reality) and their buttery, garlicly goodness, rarely having the opportunity to order them in culturally challenged eastern Kansas, so I did (as an antipasto). Sans shells, they came six on a plate accompanied by a couple sliced mushrooms and doused with a savory garlic, parsley, and butter sauce. They were good, but nowhere near the best I have had and definitely some of the priciest at $1.50 a pop.

My wife had the potato and leek soup (potage – $3.95/$4.95) which apparently comes either hot or cold because when it arrived, it was ice-cold! We asked the server to please bring her the warm version. The soup was decent, moderately flavorful, but a little too watery for my taste. It could have been thicker with a bit more seasoning, but the bread made up for it. The server brought more freshly baked bread as needed and was actually one of the highlights of the night 

Poulet Saute

The Poulet Sauté, thinly sliced chicken breast served with a light teriyaki sauce ($16.95/$19.95 – also available with an herb or peppercorn sauce), was moist, light, and succulent with just enough teriyaki to flavor the dish without overpowering the poultry. I would have preferred the herb or peppercorn sauce in a French restaurant, but my wife does not appreciate pepper as much as I do and because she was eating it, I happily succumbed to her decision. The potatoes, not plentiful enough to last as long as the chicken, were light, good, and creamy and the green beans crisp with just enough butter and seasoning. In my opinion, $16.95 for a basic chicken dish is probably at the top of the scale, but $20 is excessive. Not a great value.

Boeuf Borguignon
Boeuf Borguignon ($21.95/$24.95), braised boneless beef short ribs, onions, and mushrooms in a red (burgundy, hence the name) wine reduction. Accompanied by the same mashed potatoes and fresh green beans, the plate was pleasing to the eye and very good. The burgundy sauce was perfect, but for such a small and inexpensive cut of meat, a couple mushrooms, potatoes, and beans, the price we paid was easily six times the food cost and again not a great value in my eyes. I believe the advertised $21.95 would be more appropriate and $19.95 would be a much better value, earning an extra bomb, maybe two in my book (or blog in this case).

The house wine (Root: 1), a deep red, full bodies Chilean cabernet with intense fruity tones was the perfect accompaniment to the boeuf borguignon, but at $28 it was the least expensive option on a small wine menu with most bottles coming in at $40 or more.

House Wine – Root 1 (Chile – $28)

Now do not get me wrong, I have no trouble paying top dollar (or Euro) for a top-shelf meal worthy of a Michelin Star or two, but Chez Yasu will not be getting that star any time soon. I have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world … Brussels, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Tokyo, Seoul, Budapest, you name it … and although decent, this small French restaurant in Topeka, Kansas is overpriced in my opinion. By comparison, one of my favorite French restaurants, Le Central in Denver (Colorado) has a much more extensive and affordable wine list, a menu offering a comparable number of options (plus an elaborate offering of mussel dishes, with unlimited French fries by the way, for under $10) all under or close to $20, and superb cuisine prepared by real French chefs. In that comparison, Chez Yasu does not even come close, hence my rating of “value” ….

CombatCritic Gives Chez Yasu 6 Bombs Out of 10 … Les Bombes Sont Bon!

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Chez Yasu on Urbanspoon

Potato-Leek Soup
Fresh, French Bread Baguette
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Key Words: 66604, beef, burgundy, chez, Chez Yasu, CombatCritic, eat, food, France, French, Kansas, restaurant, Topeka, travel, TravelValue, value, yasu