Jeannier's still offers classic French

Restaurant: The Broadview dining room offers a bistro menu in the bar, but resists the trendiness of new Homewood-Roland Park restaurants

Sunday Gourmet

February 20, 2000|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Restaurant Critic

So you think Canton is a hot spot for restaurants. Consider the Homewood-Roland Park area, once known for its oh-so-proper apartment dining rooms. The neighborhood now has a funky new One World Cafe, and the Ambassador Dining Room has turned into a suave Indian restaurant. Preston's 500 has just opened in the Carlyle -- brought to you by some of the same folks who worked at the Milton Inn and Hamilton's -- and Morgan Millard is being revitalized by the owners of Charleston.

In the middle of all this excitement is an oasis of terrine de canard and oeufs a la neige known as Jeannier's. Roland Jeannier has been cooking the same traditional French food in the dining room of the Broadview ever since he opened in the mid-Eighties. (Before that, he was one of the founding fathers of the Country Fare Group of restaurants.)

I mean it when I say the same food. Looking back at reviews when Jeannier's first opened, I see that the critics had flounder with chutney and banana, a smoked fish platter and quenelles -- all of which my threesome unwittingly ordered 15 years later.

If it ain't broke ... The one bit of fixing Jeannier's has done over the years is to open a bar dining room with a bistro menu. This is for those who don't want to eat in one of the two more formal dining rooms, with their pleasant but sedate decor. Or spend $30 or so on a prix fixe dinner.

Basically Jeannier's menu takes you back in time. Back to the era when Julia Child showed you how to make quenelles, those light-as-air dumplings, from forcemeat and pate a choux. They're Roland Jeannier's signature dish so I ordered them, although they work better as a lunch or light supper. Made from pike, Jeannier's nutmeg-scented quenelles are kept from floating off the plate by a creamy, rosy lobster sauce, and if the kitchen stopped there they would have been just about perfect. The addition of tiny, tasteless shrimp did nothing for them.

Two people might start their meal here sharing the assiette nordique, a plate of superbly textured smoked salmon, tuna, eel and scallops. The shading of colors is arranged poetically with chopped onion and capers. A squiggle of horseradish cream, applied with a pastry tube, gives the plate a pleasant old-fashioned look.

Jeannier's has good seafood bisque and onion soup, but if the soupe du jour is petite marmite, you shouldn't miss it. It's a heady, intensely flavorful broth filled with minced chicken, beef, cabbage, carrots and other vegetables.

Otherwise you might start with shrimp cocktail, a duck pate, escargots or oysters Jeannier. In this last, the pike mousse of the quenelles is paired with fat oysters, then topped with Swiss cheese and herb butter and baked. They melt on the tongue.

The oysters come with one of the two prix fixe dinners. Follow them with the tournedos Perigueux, even though the dark, compelling Madeira sauce with its earthy undertones of truffle is more memorable than the three small rounds of tender beef.

Jeannier's is the place to go when you feel like indulging in rich sauces, scalloped potatoes and sweet butter, with hardly a green vegetable in sight. (The tournedos did come with one of those vegetable medleys.) If you want a simple grilled fish, go somewhere else. If you want flounder with sauteed banana, a buttery sauce, almonds and mango chutney, each bite soft and rich and sweet -- well, Jeannier's is your restaurant.

The complete dinners come with a selection from the pastry tray, like a dense chocolate truffle cake with a chocolate truffle on top. But if you order an a la carte dessert at Jeannier's, your choices are more spectacular: a white chocolate "tulip" filled with a cloud of chocolate mousse, perhaps, or oeufs a la neige -- the French version of floating island with a halo of caramelized sugar on top.

JEANNIER'S

Food: * * *

Service: * * *

Atmosphere: * * *

Where: Broadview Apts., 150

W. 39th St.

Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday, for dinner Monday through Saturday.

Prices: Appetizers, $4.75-$10.75; main courses, $16.75-$27.50.

Call: 410-889-3303

Rating system: Outstanding: * * * *; Good: * * *; Fair or uneven: * *; Poor: *

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