My wife, Rebecca, decided what she was going to eat before we even arrived at the restaurant.
“Anything ‘l’orange,’” she announced as we prepared to make the drive across town to The Normandy at the corner of 17th and Van Dorn streets.
She recently had traveled to Paris with her parents and our niece and enjoyed something ‘l’orange’ (I’m not sure what) during her visit. She has had a hankering for it since.
Sure enough, the second entree listed on Normandy’s menu: Le Canard L’Orange, a seared duck breast with an orange liqueur reduction on parmesan risotto with asparagus. Prepared by new owner and now cook Emily Post, it didn’t disappoint. The duck was juicy — sometimes game birds are overcooked and dry — and the reduction was complementary and not overpowering.
Rebecca was quite pleased.
This was our first visit to The Normandy since former employees Eric and Emily Post took over the French bistro from Lawrence and Renee deVilliers in December. Emily, who’s originally from Switzerland, worked as a server at Normandy from August 2014 to August 2016.
Eric worked as a bartender from when the restaurant opened at 2785 S. 17th St. in February 2014 until April 2015. The Posts met at the restaurant and have been married since March 2016.
At Normandy, you’ll find Eric at the front of the house and Emily in the kitchen.
“We have great customers, and I’m beginning to match faces with names,” Emily said. “It’s really been rewarding (for us) at the end of the day. And cooking has been a good learning experience for me.”
Emily and three others execute The Normandy’s 11-entree menu, which has remained the same since the ownership change. It includes traditional French cuisine such as the duck l’orange, braised beef (boeuf bourguignon) and rack of lamb (l’agneau).
I enjoyed Le Coquilles Saint Jacques ($28), seared scallops and roasted pork belly on parmesan risotto served with asparagus. The scallops were nickel-shaped and plentiful (five to six) with just as many quarter-sized pork belly pieces. Combined with the risotto, the entree made for a rich, but extremely delicious meal.
Of course, the dish was my third choice. The restaurant, on a Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., was out of three of its entrees — the braised beef, the peppered ribeye and lobster tail, which is frustrating to a patron. Emily admitted she’s still figuring out how much food to order so as to not let any go to waste.
The Normandy begins each meal with complimentary fresh-baked bread — a nice touch. The wine list, as expected, includes several French vintages. We ordered a Le Versant Pinot Noir ($35) to accompany our meal. Grade: B+
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Most of the changes at The Normandy have been cosmetic. The Posts took what the deVilliers started — white tablecloths, cloth napkins, nicely attired servers (black pants, white shirts) — and added some of their own touches. The photos on the wall are the most significant of the changes. Former server Walker Dimon’s mother, Terri, visited Paris in April, and shot numerous photos, which the Posts enlarged and framed. It gives The Normandy a French feel. The next step will be replacing some of the furniture. The wood chairs are OK, but they contrast to the red and chrome ones that really don’t fit a bistro. Uniformity goes a long way. Grade: B
Our server, Zach, was on top of it — quick with entree and dessert recommendations. He checked on us regularly without being intrusive. For Normandy’s elaborate dishes, the turnaround time form the kitchen takes a little longer than most restaurants. You can expect about a 10- to 15-minute wait for food. Freshly baked bread helped tide us over until our entrees arrived. Grade: A
The risotto ($16) is the only non-meat entree option. However, the appetizer menu includes ratatouille (squash, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers ($6), a cheese plate with walnuts, strawberries, dried cranberries and fresh bread ($15) and green beans with toasted almonds ($5). Gluten-free is not designated, so check with the server. Grade: C+