La Bateau Ivre: As gourmet as it gets

Ryan Melvin/Staff
Ryan Melvin/Staff

At first glance, with its red bricks and louvered shutters, Le Bateau Ivre appears to be a quaint residential building. But upon closer inspection, it’s actually a small French coffeehouse, bar and restaurant. Those who are cultured in cuisine will find delicious pairings in the selection of fine wines and small plates. If you’ve ever been to France, you’ll find yourself feeling nostalgic in the traditional outdoor patio section. Refined palates will indulge in elegant ingredients like summer Chanterelles. But not all of us know about wine pairings, or have been to France or know what summer Chanterelles are. Some of us know about peanut butter and jelly pairings, have been to Costco and know what Cheetos are. So what is the dining experience at Le Bateau Ivre like for the latter group? We at the Clog are armed with our lack of culture and ready to find out.

The menu is littered with unfamiliar ingredients like broccolini a la gremolata and lemon beurre blanc. There are dozens of opportunities to explore new aromas and flavors of a revered French culinary culture. There is also a grilled cheese sandwich. Very rarely does a grilled cheese surprise, and very rarely does it disappoint. These two qualities are perfect for those looking to escape the uncertainty and complexity of other entrées.

As expected, the grilled cheese did not disappoint. It fulfilled all criteria that a grilled cheese sandwich needs — it was crispy, buttery and the cheese was melted. The Cabot cheddar cheese is a nice change of pace from the more standard, individually-wrapped American cheese, and there’s a generous amount of it. Eating this sandwich only reaffirms a quintessential rule of selecting dishes at a high-end restaurant (or low-end, for that matter) — the combination of bread, butter and cheese is almost always delicious. But just to remind you that you’re in a fine dining establishment, the sandwich comes with a side of fruit instead of fries.

We admit, you do get complimentary bread and butter, which already leaves you just one ingredient and some prep time away from making your own grilled cheese sandwich. And of course, Le Bateau Ivre has an assortment of entrées that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, while grilled cheese is as common a dish as any. But let the adventurous and discerning palates order the summer Chanterelles. The rest of us will have the gourmet grilled cheese and enjoy it just as much. No unpronounceable names for us.

Contact Ryan Melvin at [email protected].