A few months ago, while strolling down Portage Avenue, I saw on the corner of Portage and Lipton, a new little restaurant by the name of Café Ce Soir. I made note of it, with the intention of visiting one day. As is often the case with new restaurants, I looked to discover what their internet presence was, and started following their Facebook page.
While scrolling through my news feed last night, I noticed that they had posted that the special on the menu was Python stew(hence “snakes on a plate”). Now snakes aren’t a regular part of my diet, but I was intrigued by this prospect, so I chatted back and forth with them and made a reservation to come try it. The cafe recommended that you reserve your python portion before they were all gone.
Upon arriving after work today, I noticed that the cafe has a sign on the door, with the words “Slow Food,” followed by a picture of a snail. The snail seemed particularly appropriate since it resonates with both the idea of slow, and with French cooking, Slow Food is a worldwide movement that encourages people to slow down and take more time and pleasure with their eating habits, along with how their food is grown and prepared. You can learn more about it at Slow Food Canada.
One of the things that Slow Food allows is for a more companionable meal. I was dining alone, and while I often have brilliantly witty conversations while talking to myself, I took my companionship in Hans Von Urs Balthasar’s The Glory of The Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, a book best appreciated when digested slowly.
For a starter to my meal I order the French Onion Soup. This came with a good layer of cheese which had been melted over the top of a slice of baguette. Both the cheese and the soup were quite mild in their flavour. I didn’t identify the cheese or the wine/port that was used, but both lingered enough to be noticeable, but not overpower the flavour of the onions and the butter,
A few minutes after this, the entree of snake, arrived. It appears to be part of one snake, so perhaps snakes is inappropriate for the title. Again, the expectation is that you are going to take time over the meal, yet it wasn’t served in such a fashion as to give a sense that you were in any way being ignore. While waiting for the entree there was an amuse-bouche consisting of a piece of strawberry wrapped in salmon, with a sauce, served on a piece of cucumber. While pleasant, I think this item will work better come Manitoba strawberry season, as the taste of the strawberry was a little lost in the other items.
So, the big question, what’s it like eating python? Well, you know how people say that ever exotic meat they try tastes like chicken. Python only looks like chicken. Texture-wise it reminded somewhat of stew beef, quite tender, but with a bit of chewiness to it. The flavour itself wasn’t all that strong, the fennel it was cooked in was the dominant, though not overwhelming, flavour of the dish, with just a hint of gaminess in the meat as well. The stew was served with a light and flaky piece of focaccia and a mixed green and tomato salad.
I finished my meal with a peanut butter cup Crème Brulée. It captured the sense of the chocolate bar, while have a light feel to it, along with a wonderful, crackling topping.
Overall, the menu prices fall into the moderate price range, but expect to pay a premium if you go for the wild game choice on Tuesday nights.