Sunday, October 08, 2006

Café Anglais

Have not been on for a while - so busy, and wrapped up in this fascinating Mark Foley thing (oh my, isn't THAT big news or what).

Not all the places where I dine are within the Baltimore City limits. Last week I took a trip with my sister and her friend to an English restaurant (yes, you read that right) in nearby Frederick. Frederick is a lovely town - very picturesque. Interestings thing about the city: in terms of city limits, it's supposedly the second-largest city in Maryland. Though in terms of metropolitan areas, it's not even in the top 5. It is a walking city, and a pleasant walk it is. And Frederick was traversed by both Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War. This in a state of strong Confederate and Union supporters.

I have heard that English food is so awful that the national cuisine is Indian, the popular cuisie brought to England by its former Indian and Pakistani subjects. But English cookin' is, as I aslso hear, undergoing a renaissance! But even traditional British food has its place. To try some, we parked a few blocks away, and walked the rest of the way to the restaurant that was our destination: Café Anglais. The friendly Lancastrian proprietor, Michael Harrison, runs the place with Brigitte King, who is from Marseille (so says this review of all things Frederick from the Baltimore Sun). The Café Anglais has a small dine-in area with an even smaller section of English groceries. This is a quaint little place to eat, but if the garden is open, please eat there, because it is a wonderful experience! It is a beautiful garden with several tables and chairs. It's a great place to have tea. Café Anglais prides itself on its tea service, and the three of us started off with tea. There were several patrons there that day, so the service was a little slow, but well worth the wait. We got a porcelain teapot with cream, sugar (no Sweet N' Low for us, though I didn't ask), and cups for everyone (well that last part is understood). The waitress will refill the teapot if you ask, at no charge!

The menu contains both English and French foods, but mostly English. My sister and I both were in the mood for fish and chips with mushy peas (fish with fries and, well, mashed peas). Our friend went for a small quiche. It was a scant thing, like one meat pie I ordered the last time I visited, before a trip to NYC to see the quintessential musical about meat pies, Sweeney Todd. But I digress...

The fish was crispy on the outside, and it was a generous helping. There were lots of chips, and they come with a side of vinegar if you want it. We didn't want it, but opted for ketchup. I've never been a big fan of vinegar as a condiment. Now mushy peas may take some getting used to for an American. Mashed peas? Why? They were a little bland, and a little buttery; I did salt them for a little extra flavor. The meal was good, though. It must have been, as this is the second time I have ever ordered it.

After our filling fish and chips, it was time for dessert. I forget what the others ordered; I was too taken by my creme brulée. It was what any creme brulée should be: crispy and sweet on the top, smooth and delicious underneath. This has to be one of my favorite things to eat! It would have been even better had it not started raining. Fortunately, it was toward the end of our meal.

For the three of us, the cost for tea, sodas for two (in cans), plus our entrées and desserts, and tax came to $66 - that was before the tip. I am looking toward my next visit there. Please do visit the place, because the food is good. You might even grow to like English cuisine! Perhaps the national cuisine of the country isn't vindaloo after all!


Anonymous said...

I am writing to offer a comment on your Sunday, October 08, 2006 review of Cafe Anglais in Frederick, MD.

I visited the cafe in the months after it opened about 7 years ago, and the menu at the time was a bit limited, as they were just starting out.

Well, over the past few days, I have had a craving for fish and chips, which I have not eaten in many years (I tend to avoid fried foods), and so, at about 7 PM (earlier tonite), I called Cafe Anglais to see if they were still in business and if they had fish and chips on the menu. Well, the man who answered informed me that the restaurant was indeed still open, and did indeed offer fish and chips, but, he advised me, the restaurant closes at 5 PM on weekdays.

As I was starting to tell him that this was fine with me, and that I would come in perhaps the next day before 5 PM, he offered to re-open the restaurant and cook me an order of fish and chips if I wished the make the 16 minute drive to town from where I live in the mountains. I thanked him profusely, and accepted his kind offer. An hour later, I was back home with two take-out orders of fish and chips from Cafe Anglais!

The meal was excellent, and best, the cooking oil was not at all rancid or oxidized, as is so often the case with frying oils in restaurants. Rather, the fish, the batter and the oil tasted very fresh, and the fish and batter were firm and crisp.

As a result of this fine meal, and also as a result of the owner's kindness in staying open late to make up my order, I plan to return to Cafe Angalis soon for a meal in their dining room!

Overall, this meal was a wonderful treat!