With the Fourth of July over and done and all those hot dogs and hamburgers consumed, it's time to move on to Bastille Day (La Fête Nationale) and its more sophisticated fare. This national holiday in France marks the beginning of the French Revolution and is observed annually on July 14th. Memphians with a Francophile streak can get in on the action at two local restaurants.
The Bastille Day dinner on Saturday at Chez Philippe is part of the Peabody hotel's Historic Dinners series. The five-course prix fixe menu, created by Chef Ryan Spruhan, features very French dishes, including vichyssoise, ratatouille, bouillabaisse, and coq au vin. For dessert, there will be a selection of cakes.
The Bastille Day dinner at Cafe 1912 is a decades-long tradition that began at the old La Tourelle. The dinner is so popular that this year Cafe 1912 is making a weekend of it, with seatings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting at 5 p.m. According to Martha Hays, who owns Cafe 1912 with her husband Glenn, the cuisine at this French restaurant has gotten more eclectic over the years, and so the Bastille Day dishes — it's à la carte and the regular menu is also being offered — will be a bit more traditional. Think Julia Child, says Hays. Among the dishes are a pâté of foie gras, duck breast with orange sauce, and strawberries soaked in Grand Marnier served on puff pastry and topped with Chantilly cream. Hays says they'll put up some decorations and play Maurice Chevalier and then let the evening take its course. "The party is up to people who come," she says.
Finally, for the kids who won't go anywhere near bouillabaisse, there's Bastille Day crafts at the Children's Museum of Memphis on Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. Participants will learn about French history and make French flags using collage materials. There will be no pretend-time prison-storming or beheadings. We checked.
BASTILLE DAY DINNER AT CHEZ PHILIPPE, SATURDAY, JULY 14TH, 7 P.M. $85 PER PERSON, PLUS $30 FOR WINE PAIRING. RESERVATIONS: 529-4188.
Bastille Day Dinner at Cafe 1912, Friday-Sunday, July 13th-15th. Seatings start at 5 p.m. Reservations: 722-2700.