By: Amanda Narcisi
French cuisine has been on a stride in Pittsburgh for a while; restaurants include Poulet Bleu, Paris 66 and now Jean Louis. Jean Louis, named for the famous chef Jean-Louis Palladin who introduced French nouvelle cuisine and chef at The Watergate in Washington D.C., is the newest and perhaps the most fun I have had in a while.
Cheese, butter, wine, meat, and sweets. Jean Louis didn’t skimp on any of these key ingredients. Every bite made us ask for bread to clean the bowl of the sauce and we eagerly awaited what was next to come to the plate in front of us.
We began the meal with a charcuterie board and fried kale. Charcuterie board had a sample of prosciutto, speck ham and other specific meat. Bread was on the side drizzled with olive oil and herbs.
Our first dish was Spheres D’Escargot de Bourgogne, wild Burgundy snails in garlic and herb butter. While most of the time when you order Escargot you can mostly taste the garlic and little butter, However, Jean Louis does it better with a thick butter sauce that is superb.
Next, we dined on a Black Truffle Gnocchi. The sauce that accompanied this dish was so amazing we got served an extra serving just of the sauce for bread dipping (or spoonfuls of delight).
Next was the Marget De Canton À L’Orange, a boneless, ethically raised duck breast in a blood orange sauce, however, we were served lentils. The duck was perfect shades of pink with perfect tenderness.
The Pommes Frites were served next as a small side dish. All we have to say is truffle oil.
Our dessert was a bit of the trick to the senses. It was vanilla ice cream however it had a special marmalade on top. We were quizzed for our guesses on this tangy red vegetable on top. Surprise it was a tomato. Also served after was some chocolate truffles and these paired with some wine is just a perfect end to any dinner.
Prior to dinner, we were treated to a cocktail happy hour in the upstairs bar. The bartender had created a special drink for us to start made from Gin and Creme de Violette. My favorite had to be the Boulevardier, with Elijah Craig Bourbon, Campari Aperitif and Dolin Rouge Vermouth. The Saints and Geese was also a crowd favorite with Grey Goose Vodka, Absinthe, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Raspberry Syrup, fresh lemon juice, and Champagne. Each cocktail was handcrafted and made with such care it was as if they were a piece of art.
One of the best parts of restaurants in Pittsburgh is the atmosphere, and no one talks about how you feel as you eat there. Jean Louis is fancy casual. It is not a place for football and hoodies. Some of the booths upstairs are able to be closed by curtains for a more romantic feel. Most of the tables seat four or more. The entire place looks like Parisian with elaborate wallpaper and wood everywhere. The Downstairs was a new addition we had the pleasure of sitting in. Soon available for cooking classes and private events, the downstairs had its own bar and a few leather couches and chairs outside of the restrooms.