Floating island. photography by Kevin Marple

Restaurant Review: L’Ancestral

It's a piece of French heaven along Travis Street.

This cozy spot in Travis Walk has served classic country French cuisine for 27 years. Perhaps some of the decor and a few elements of the menu could use some sprucing up, but, for the most part, you can expect fine food and wine with a heavy French accent.

We went straight for the old-school fare—soupe à l’oignon, pâté maison, steak au poivre à la crème, truite aux amandes, and a floating island for dessert. Too often, I find onion soup overly salty. But here, the hot brown broth of the soup that peeked through melted Gruyere was smooth and silky. The house pâté, a generous slice of coarse duck pâté studded with pistachios, was served with traditional accompaniments such as cornichons and lightly spiced mustard. The filet was cooked perfectly pink, and thousands of particles of cracked pepper floated in a cream sauce flamed with Cognac. This dish fared better than the trout, which had a rough texture—a sign it had been frozen and was likely past its prime. The sides—a scoop of white rice and a mound of overcooked julienned vegetables—were uninspired.

However, the small wine list is interesting. Owner Alain-Pierre Vuilleret scours the French wine market for unusual wines like a red Sancerre or a Pinot Gris from Alsace, which he offers as specials. Julia Child will smile down on you if you order a floating island for dessert. A lovely cloud of baked egg whites, vanilla, and sugar sits in a creamy cold egg custard­­—a touch of heaven on a plate.

Get contact information for L’Ancestral.

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