Neighborhood: Humboldt Park
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★
Food Quality: ★★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
If you want a cozy, intimate, yet exciting dining experience, Café Marie-Jeanne is a perfect option. I absolutely adored everything about this place. It has “traditional” French food but also innovative, contemporary dishes that are made in really unique ways. There was nothing I ate here that I didn’t love. We came here on a Wednesday night and decided to try the $36/person prix fixe menu, which was a decent deal because it included options from each part of the menu. It was an excellent way to try the menu! The decor is rustic and adorable in a way that conveys they aren’t trying too hard but still care. They had written their specials on a chalkboard like a traditional French Bistro, which I found endearing. It was dimly lit, but not too dimly lit so you could still see your dinner companion. It is a perfect place for an intimate friend or romantic dinner date!
The hostess was pleasant and our server was really helpful with explaining the prix fixe menu. We also were there later at night and didn’t feel rushed out or anything. She was also helpful with recommendations and down to earth, which is unique in contemporary, rustic places like this. Being a fan of French cuisine and salty fish products, I was in love with the menu and wanted to try everything. The prix fixe option was a perfect way to try as much as I wanted and the portions were excellent. We had a lot of leftovers.
We started out with the caviar toast. The bread was amazing and soaked up the crème fraiche perfectly with the salty caviar. I typically don’t like crème fraiche, but this one tasted more like a cheese and not like sour cream (I hate sour cream). The caviar melted in my mouth. Another way of getting our salty fish fix was by ordering the smoked trout and the hot smoked salmon, which came with more delicious bread, pickled cucumbers, onions, a hard boiled egg, and potatoes. The fish was prepared perfectly, had an amazing texture, and was smoked really well.
One of their specials that day was “curry anchovy fries” which were also mouthwateringly delicious! The salty anchovy flavor went seamlessly with the curry flavor and the breading. It came with three different dipping sauces and my favorite one was this chili oil sauce that complemented the spice of the curry well. Being a cheesehead, I couldn’t go to a French restaurant without ordering a cheese plate. They have different cheese specials everyday written on the board so we ordered a cheese from France and from California. The cheese from California was very unique. It was light, flaky, and looked like a flower almost. It had a very mild, nutty flavor. The French cheese was like a traditional creamy Brie or Camembert cheese that paired well with the apples on the plate. It also came with more delicious bread!
For the entree part, I ordered the bucatini that had langoustines and a chili oil sauce and it was truly amazing. I unfortunately couldn’t enjoy this too much because I was full from the other courses. But the sauce had bread crumbs and chili oil that the langoustines were generously sautéed in. The bucatini pasta tasted fresh too. Since we were super full, we didn’t order dessert. The prix fixe was a really flexible option because we ordered an extra appetizer instead of dessert.
I truly cannot wait for the next time I have the opportunity to dine here. It is a pricier place, but it is worth the price and the prix fixe menu on a Wednesday night was a much more affordable way to try these delicacies.