Cari Taylor-Carlson
Dining

The French Bistro Flair of Le Reve

There’s not one sandwich on the menu I wouldn’t order again.

By - Jan 4th, 2017 05:02 pm
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Le Reve Patisserie & Cafe. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Le Reve Patisserie & Cafe. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Call it a cheese sandwich with ham or a Croque Monsieur, it’s still an uncomplicated french brasserie staple. At Le Reve, they serve their Croque Monsieur toasted on country white with Dijon mustard, the ham and a generous serving of gruyere mornay, the saucy cheesy part of the sandwich. The mornay outshines the ham which means a feast for cheese lovers tucked inside two slices of sturdy bread. It comes with a side salad (petite greens) or pommes frites, lovely skinny fries served in a container holding a paper cone filled with the gently salted fries alongside a small cup of aioli for dipping.

The salad, nothing special, comes lightly dressed, so lightly that the day I order the salad, it’s almost imperceptible. A couple slices of radish add color and crunch.

As I’ve sampled almost every sandwich on the menu, there’s not one I wouldn’t order again. Pate de Campagne, thick slices of pork pate with farm cheese, frisee and cornichons on a baguette, has an authentic, could- be-in-a-Paris-bistro taste, from the pate that lands somewhere between rough, chunky, and buttery. The sweet/sour cornichons add contrast to the strong flavor of the pate; the frisee adds crunch.

Tomatoes, brie, and pesto on a toasted baguette may be a boring sandwich, but, semi-melted brie with basil pesto and sliced tomato makes it a distant cousin to Italian caprese salad, except, it’s served on a bun. I can’t speak to the burgers, one with creamy blue and caramelized onions, the other with mushroom duxelles, fried onions, and gruyere, because, why order a burger, even a fancy burger, at a French café? I know I can count on a great burger at Oscar’s, Sobelman’s or A.J. Bomber’s.

At a recent lunch, friends order Sandwich au Saumon and Pan-Bagnat. Our excellent server, Anna, asks if my friend wants her salmon rare, medium, or well. She picks medium. It’s moist, served on a toasted roll with thick-sliced crisp bacon, tomato, arugula, and saffron rouille, a peppery garlicky sauce, similar to aioli.

The Pan-Bagnat, a sandwich which originated in southern France, is typically served on a round bun. At Le Reve, they swap traditional arugula for watercress and make it with grilled chicken, basil tapenade, and roasted caper aioli. The watercress gives it a peppery bite that enhances the chicken with its crispy browned edges.

Sandwich au Saumon. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Sandwich au Saumon. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

From the three crepes on the menu it’s a tough choice between Coquilles Saint Jacques with dayboat scallops, Confit de Canard with duck confit, cheve, and caramelized onions, and my choice, Legumes Printaniers. Legumes Printaniers includes ample wild mushrooms, slivers of raw asparagus, and Sar Vecchio, a Satori parmesan cheese, all stuffed in a tender crepe topped with a basted egg, frisee, and truffle vinaigrette. A powerful mushroom essence from the truffle vinaigrette permeates the crepe. The yolk from the sunny-side-up-egg merges the flavors of mushrooms and asparagus, and mitigates the strong truffle taste while pulling the diverse flavors together in each bite. Too much frisee makes it hard to eat. It adds nothing except color and aggravation. I push it aside to continue with the rest.

Soupe Du Jour, Pumpkin, is a thick creamy soup that speaks only of pumpkin with a hint of lemon in the background. The daily special salad disappoints. Mainly baby kale, it doesn’t deliver as promised. Poached “pears,” described as plural, turn out to be just a half, and scant pecans feel like an afterthought. The solo pear has a hump of spreadable blue cheese inside, while prusciutto draped over the kale makes an odd combination.

There are no sad tales to relate when I write about the cheese omelette, loaded with caramelized leeks, gruyere, and wild mushrooms. It travels so fast from kitchen to table that the sauté butter still sizzles. Loaded it is with mushrooms falling out, plenty of caramelized leeks, and abundant cheese to bind it.

I add a scone because after all, Le Reve is a bakery. It’s buttery, not too crumbly, coated with large sugar crystals.

The Café with tile floors and high ceilings has nothing to absorb sound. It can get loud when all the tables are full upstairs and down. We enjoy the happy Saturday vibe from young families, parties, people like us out for a walk and good food, and to glaze the galette, excellent service from Anna.

On the Menu

The Rundown

  • Location: 7610 Harwood Ave.
  • Phone: 414-778-3333
  • Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon-Thu, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fri-Sat
  • Walk Score: 86
  • Website: http://lerevecafe.com
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/lerevecafe
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lerevewauwatosa/?ref=ts
  • UM Rating: 4.5333333333333 stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)
  • Menu size: 65
  • Price range food (small plates): $3.50-$16.95
  • Price range food (entrees): $21.95-$27.95
  • Wine list size (bottles): 31
  • Wine list size (glasses): 32
  • Price range wine (bottles): $28.00-$100.00
  • Price range wine (glasses): $7.00-$24.00
  • Beer list size (bottles): 14
  • Cuisine Style: French, bakery

2 thoughts on “Dining: The French Bistro Flair of Le Reve”

  1. Jane Keelan says:

    My daughter worked at Le Reve and brought home the burger with the mushrooms, gruyere and fried onions. I don’t order burgers often. I like them but almost always order something else when I go out to eat. The burger she brought home was the best burger I have ever had. I have never tasted one that good. As a matter of fact, I don’t know why they dont serve it at dinner time. Try it. I’d love to know what you think.

  2. Tom says:

    Great Europeon dining experience!
    Server, Ann, was helpful, attentive and welcoming!

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