TRAVEL HERE: LAVENDOU’S – A LOCAL FAVORITE
Last week I told you about my love affair with Gordon Biersch and since then I’ve been thinking about delicious places to eat in Dallas which I’ve failed to share with you. At the top of that list would be Lavendou. It’s been around forever and there’s very good reason. The website doesn’t mention how long, but I know it’s been around for a long time, because when I first visited (at least seven years ago) my friend couldn’t believe I hadn’t eaten at this neighborhood tradition – and I didn’t even live in the neighborhood, yet.
Near to Delicious
Now, my favorite thing about Lavendou is that it’s virtually around the corner from my house. It’s so close I can be running late and still get there on time. It’s rare for me to be in the car and not pass their perky yellow awning – and when I do, I always smile. I promise I didn’t choose my house based on the restaurant’s location, but it sure didn’t hurt.
My other favorite thing is that it’s not a chain. There is no place else in the world that you can go and enjoy their salmon bisque or their crepes or their…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Lavendou is a quaint and cozy place to meet the girls for lunch, but somehow in the evening, it turns into this incredibly romantic venue for dinner. I don’t exactly know how they manage it, but they do.
The yellow awning covers a small patio, but as much as I love al fresco dining, this is one place I usually sit inside. The location just does not do the restaurant justice. The patio is just a few yards from a very busy thoroughfare and one of the prominent stores in the strip mall is Condom Sense. However, once you pass through the multi-paned door, you’re in the South of France. There’s brick and wood and brightly printed textiles in dark blue and sunny yellow. I’m always greeted by a smile and ushered to a table that feels like the best one, no matter where it is. There’s no smell of lavender in the air, but with the aroma’s drifting in from the kitchen, you don’t really care.
There’s one guy that’s been a waiter there for many years and I always love it when they seat me at his table. I think the professional restaurant critics would call the service at Lavendou uneven, but I’m there so often, that if they were going to have a bad day, I’d catch it – and there have been some bad days, but never bad enough to keep me from wanting to go back again and again and again.
As soon as you sit down they start feeding you. They bring out perfect slices from a baguette, often still warm, with rock hard unsalted butter. They’ll also drizzle some oil in a plate with pepper, but I’m a big fan of butter. I’ll confess that I often arrive early so I have a good excuse for eating so many slices. I’ll also confess that I usually get a glass of wine, even if it’s lunch. I mean, if you were in the South of France, wouldn’t you get a glass of wine?
The meals are truly out of this world. I’m not a big soup fan, but I adore their bisques – both salmon and lobster. Their cream of asparagus is also wonderful. If one of these three soups is not available, I’ve been known to eat the escargot. In fact, I’ve been known to have soup and escargot and go right to dessert. But that means I have to forego the entree and I hate to miss their du jours – quiche du jour, crepes du jour, les pates du jour (pasta) or The Chef’s Menu, which starts soup and ends with dessert du jour. Another reason I go early and get a glass of wine is to give myself time to decide which I want, even though I’ve usually been thinking about it since the moment we decided to go there – whether that was hours or days ago.
And dessert? Oh my – dessert! L’Assiette Des Trois Tartes – can you say died and gone to heaven? That’s what I get when I go for lunch, but if it’s for dinner – Soufflé au Chocolat. They do have Grand Marnier and Raspberry Souffles, but I always say, why waste the calories if you can get chocolate.
If you can imagine it, dinner is a grander, more elaborate, affair than lunch. Sometimes they even have special meals like Bastille Day Dinners, Mother’s Day Brunches or something for Valentines Day, but it doesn’t have to be a special event to get a special dinner at Lavendou. Every meal there is special.
If you’re not a Dallasite, do you have a little neighborhood treasure like Lavendou? If you live in Dallas, you probably already love it. If you haven’t been, get there!