Any French brasserie worth the ink on their menu or chalk on their board will include an entrée dish named Salade Niçoise. Originating in the Provence city of Nice, the niçoise salad combines many tastes of the Mediterranean to create this meal-worthy mélange.
The Salade Niçoise at Brasserie L’Oustau de Provence.
At Brasserie L’Oustau, Chef quickly sears a fresh thick tuna steak and places it sliced on a base of lettuce, brine-cured black olives, fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, haricots vert, boiled egg, capers, anchovy and fresh herbs all drizzled with his signature vinaigrette of aged wine vinegar and oil.
Salade Niçoise was popularized in America in the nineteen sixties by the celebrity cook Julia Child. Salads of that time for the most part had been simple greens sometimes daring to add a slice of avocado, but you might also have found one of the popular salads that had been formed in a gelatin mold. Julia introduced an entire country to the idea that a salad can be more than a side dish (or dessert). In fact, Americans learned that a salad can be really quite good.
Restaurants in the US sometimes include the Salade Niçoise but you will most often find the entrée salads are Grilled Chicken Caesar, Cobb or the old stand-by Chef’s Salad. None of these other salads encompass the tastes and essence of a region’s harvest the way the Salade Niçoise does Provence.
It sits on your lap, touches your mouth and greets your greasy fingers with abundant appetite. A linen napkin is soft and pure and willing to embrace and forgive; its whole purpose is to absorb your every gastronomic misdirection, absolve you and hold all evidence on a folded square of fabric then removed.
If you’ve never considered cloth napkins before perhaps now you can; the quality of your dining experience really does depend on them.
Even before you sit at a restaurant table the napkin influences the impression you have of what is to come. The napkin may be folded like a swan gliding on a plate-lake in one restaurant, a tulip bursting from a water glass vase in the next, or lightly nesting the flatware in a simple fold in yet another.
Glassware, linen and tableware – silverware, candle, salt and pepper, etcetera – are all an indication of the type of meal to come. Casual dining might have paper napkins around a simple fork and knife on a bare table; fine dining could poise soft linen in tall stemware at place settings of 6 or more pieces. In all cases your expectations of the meal begin with the napkin.
Brasserie L’Oustau folds its linen napkins simply to reflect the casual and respectful spirit of the brasserie. We take you to the table where you will settle and easily enjoy your dinner and our hospitality. There is no pretense or posturing about our brasserie experience and the simple napkin fold indicates you are at a comfortable restaurant with good food, service and community.
The simple fold of the linen napkins at Brasserie L’Oustau make it easy for diners to settle themselves and continue on to their biggest challenge: deciding what to order from our extensive menu.
There is one exception to our “keep it simple” paradigm; the bread basket nestles sliced baguettes on linen with an “artichoke” fold. Sometimes we like to shake things up a bit.