Now that our busy season with Savory Addictions is starting to subside, I decided that my wife, Gay, and I needed a little getaway. So get away we did.
On a recent Sunday morning, we wandered into a quaint little French bistro. The patio looked inviting, but to avoid the mid-morning chill, we opted to dine inside. The warm, friendly hostess greeted us and we were seated immediately.
The atmosphere is exactly what you would expect in France. A slightly dark interior with exposed brick, high ceilings, natural wooden floors, candles and a polished marble bar stretching nearly 23 feet.
Small marble-topped tables and many seats fit closely together. Intimate, but not crowded. In the background, a murmur of soft conversations and ’60s era French pop music mixed with northern soul — think Amy Winehouse. So different and relaxing compared to our normal Sunday brunches in Kansas City.
As a somewhat newer trend in French bistros, the menu was a collection of perfect little small bites. Nothing too big with some fun plates to share. I wish that some of our friends could have joined us on this trip. They would love this experience.
We decided to indulge in the mimosa bar — another newer trend in France — since we were on “vacation.” The self-serve bar was packed full of house-made shrubs and syrups, and fresh fruit juices. They also offered additional toppings such as sprinkles, candy canes, Emergen-C and more. This was kind of fun. Certainly, not stuffy as we might have expected.
Now for the menu. We started with the short rib, jalapeno and cheese Danish. Yeah, I’ll stop right there and let that sink in for you. Doesn't that just sound great? We thought so, too. And it was. Glad we got there at opening, as those delectable treats ran out quickly. Apparently, the young sous chef came up with this idea. And I can tell you it really worked. A very nice savory start to the day.
Next, we ordered the Moules Frites: Mussels, fries, white wine, shallot, thyme and butter. Incredible. Plump and tender mussels, nestled in a velvety broth. According to the same sous chef, her secret is the butter — but not in the Paula Deen way. This was truly a treat. The server encouraged us to consume the rest of the broth via shots, followed by a sip of champagne — which we did after we sopped up as much of that heavenly broth as we could with the fries.
And the fries. They were wonderful just by themselves. Perfectly seasoned, with a very light texture “crunch” and subtle flavor that just toyed with your taste buds to keep eating more and more. And we did.
Since there were no more Short Rib Danishes, we ordered the Ham and Cheese crêpe with pickled shallots and a croissant. The crêpe was simple and a perfect balance of flavors: creamy cheese, salty ham and just a touch of bite from the pickled shallot. And the croissant as expected was just the perfect finish for this brunch.
Now, before you book your flight to France and email me for the name of this quaint bistro, let me tell you a secret. This hidden gem isn’t on Ile St. Louis in Paris, overlooking the Notre Dame.
In fact, it is here in the heart of Westport, at 4149 Pennsylvania Ave., just south of Port Fonda. It’s called Ça Va and is the brainchild of Chef Howard Hanna of The Rieger.
So, when you decide you deserve a little getaway for a Sunday brunch, it opens at 11 a.m., or you’re just a Francophile missing that je ne sais quoi, take a trip over to Ça Va. Close your eyes, let the music and atmosphere envelop you. Sip on your drink and enjoy the start of your day. Bon appétit.
Craig Jones is a live-fire cooking expert, the Grill Mayor for Food Network (2012), and owner of Savory Addictions Gourmet Nuts. He’s also a certified KCBS BBQ judge, a student of pizza crafting and an enthusiastic supporter of the greater Kansas City food scene.