It’s been so hot in the City lately that we were looking for a way to escape the heat and find a place to eat, preferably somewhere outdoor with a view. Our thoughts immediately went to crossing the bridge and heading to Le Garage, a great casual French Bistro where we thought we would grab some great wine and lunch. Bruno Denis and Olivier Souvestre opened Le Garage a little more than five years ago in Sausalito facing the Schoonmaker Point Marina. Born in Brittany, Souvestre had previously worked as Executive Chef at Chez Papa Bistrot in San Francisco where he met fellow Frenchman Denis.
We encountered a little bit of fog while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. The welcome mist acted as nature’s air conditioning and helped us cool off from the unusual summer heat:
Located in a complex facing the marina, Le Garage literally has industrial garage doors that can be rolled up or down depending on the weather and wind conditions. Without a reservation, there is almost always a wait for lunch or brunch, but it typically lasts no more than 30 minutes:
We ordered a refreshing Stella Artois beer as we waited for a couple of seats in the bar to open up:
Lucky for us a couple of seats did open up at the bar not too long after, so we started with a side order of panisse frites made with chickpea flour. The only other place we know that offers this great version of French Fries with creamy centers is Frances. Stacked like log cabins, the delicious fries, served with piment d’espelette aïoli, were delivered with a generous basket of bread and butter:
Le Garage is our kind of place, featuring an equal amount (if not more) of French wines and domestics. We ordered a bottle of the 2007 Château du Trignon Gigondas which for once was at proper temperature for a red wine. Lately, we have been finding that a lot of red wines are served too warm and have had to ask for an ice bucket or have the bottle chilled a bit to get it to the proper temperature. Gigondas has long been one of our favorite appellations in Southern Rhône. Heavy on the grenache (60%), this Château du Trignon reminded us why this region makes wines that are great on their own or paired with food. Fruit and acidity are in proper balance, and the terroir comes through in minerality:
The lunch menu features typical bistro fare of soups, salads, sandwiches and a few entrées. Steak frites and Mussels Marinière looked tempting, but we decided on the Organic Grass-Fed 1/2 lb. Burger. Topped with Morbier cheese, tomatoes, butter lettuce, grilled red onions and aïoli, this burger was messy and juicy the way a great burger should be. The French fries served with aïoli that accompanied the burger did not disappoint – they were perfectly crispy:
We ordered the burger rare and it arrived perfectly cooked – a difficult feat for grass-fed burgers which tend to cook rapidly:
We also ordered the Croque Madame made with thick slices of Panorama brioche stuffed with ham, béchamel sauce and gruyere cheese. Topped with an egg, the Croque was decadently rich between the cheese, sauce and the buttery brioche bread. The mixed green salad lightly dressed with a vinaigrette almost fooled us into thinking that the dish had some healthy aspects:
The cross section of what might just be our favorite Croque Madame in the Bay Area shows the melted goodness oozing out:
Our charming Provençal bartender Benjamin must have thought we needed something sweet to end the meal (or a drink to help digest the fat) and kindly poured some dessert wines for us:
The fog had lifted as we drove back across the bridge post-lunch:
Le Garage is one of our favorite spots to go to for a weekend brunch, especially when the weather is nice. There is a lot of French spoken among the staff members which adds to its charming bistro ambience. Denis and Souvestre, along with Souvestre’s wife, Susannah, opened L’Apart in San Anselmo in 2010 and Fast Food French (F3) earlier this year in the former location of the Plate Shop in Sausalito. With a full bar and an extended burger menu at F3, we may have to try eating there the next time we head over the bridge.