Restaurant review

Farm-to-table French charm at charming Amélie Cafe in Fairfax – Marin Independent Journal

  • Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    Moules Marinières from Amélie Café are presented in a tasty broth perfect for soaking up bread.

  • The interior of Café Amélie in Fairfax during lunch service.

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    The interior of Café Amélie in Fairfax during lunch service.

  • Amélie Café's Chèvre Chaud Pistachio is served with crunchy...

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    Amélie Café’s warm pistachio goat cheese is served with crispy crostini and green vegetables.

  • Amélie Café's Hot Chevre Salad contains grapes, sunflower seeds and...

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    Amélie Café’s Chevre Chaud Salad includes raisins, sunflower seeds and a vinaigrette.

  • The Amélie Burger offers Emmental cheese, caramelized onions and green vegetables.

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    The Amélie Burger offers Emmental cheese, caramelized onions and green vegetables.

  • The Vegetable Quiche served with greens at Amélie Café in...

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    The vegetable quiche served with green vegetables at the Amélie cafe in Fairfax.

  • Amélie Cafe offers indoor and outdoor seating.

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    Amélie Cafe offers indoor and outdoor seating.

  • Amélie Café's lemon tart offers a silky meringue.

    Independent Journal of Sherry LaVars/Marin

    Amélie Café’s lemon tart offers a silky meringue.

When I arrived in Fairfax on a recent Friday, the town was buzzing like a resort town. There were so many people walking around the small town center. It was lively and vibrant, as was lunch at Cafe Amélie, whose parklet was nearly full when we were shown to our table.

The team of three Frenchmen behind Amélie — Germain Michel, Samie Didda and Romain Martinez — has been busy. Besides Fairfax, they have locations in San Francisco and New York.

We were too late in the day to taste the homemade breakfast pastries and croissants. We consoled ourselves with Quiche Lorraine ($8.50), a lovely ham custard with a crispy but flaky crust, and later, Tarte au Citron ($8), which had a smooth mound of Italian meringue with a shortbread crust and went well with a glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2019 ($13).

Ahh, but I got ahead of myself. The next table had something we hadn’t seen on the menu: Baked Camembert ($14), which was topped with soft, roasted garlic cloves. It is reheated in a small pressed wooden box and served with crostini. The rich, creamy cheese on the crunchy toast pairs beautifully with the wine.

Michel, a certified sommelier, has teamed up with winegrowers in France and Argentina to produce a few wines available at Amélie. Amélie’s wine list reflects her enthusiasm for gourmet and gourmet wines. The wine list by the glass is divided into three categories: good, very good and excellent. We ordered three glasses from the very good list. They were $13 each for a good size in tall thin stemmed glasses.

The 2020 Bordeaux Comtesse de Malet Roquefort, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, had good minerality and acidity. Miraval Studio 2019 was an elegant shade of pink, with sound structure and acidity. His older age did not appear. The 2020 Domaine du Somail Fabre-Michel “plume” Mourvèdre-Syrah blend is a modern-style Minervois with good concentration, but not jammy.

We had wanted to order the chicken mousse with muscatel jelly and pickled vegetables ($14), but it had just been made and hadn’t been installed yet. But what is a French coffee without snails? So we went in that direction. The six snails arrived in small ceramic cradles ($16), but not as described on the menu. Other crostini arrived with the snails but it was not possible to dip them into the small round holes.

We asked if we could have untoasted bread ($6), which is not on the menu. The torpedo-shaped baguette arrived in an oval black bowl with a generous layer of butter on the side just below the rim of the bowl. The butter was sprinkled with chives and coarse salt. How fun and tasty it was to tear off a piece of bread and slide it into the butter.

A salad of frisée, pears, assorted plumped mushrooms and champagne vinaigrette ($16) was a special salad. Frisée is also present in Salade Lyonnaise ($18), which is my favorite salad. The frisee is drizzled with the lukewarm bacon and shallot mustard vinaigrette, and topped with a poached egg. This salad with a side of good bread would be an ideal lunch.

The mussels of the day ($23) were plump with lots of white wine, leek broth with a little cream. Again, this side of the bread came in handy. because I didn’t want to leave a drop of this delicious broth. Fries ($6) arrived with small bowls of aioli and ketchup. The aioli lacked garlic punch and the fries just didn’t have that crispy exterior (hiding a mealy center). However, a woman at the next table ordered the Amélie Burger with fries ($19) and loved them both – to each his taste or “to each his taste” as the French say.

Our French server came straight out of central casting. He was charming, cheerful and efficient, going so far as to brush a tablecloth on an empty table as he walked past.

The butternut tartine ($15), a lightly toasted homemade whole-grain bread topped with roasted butternut squash, arugula and sprinkles of soft goat cheese, was drizzled with a balsamic reduction.

If you want to treat your taste buds and practice your French, this is the place for you.

Enjoy your lunch!

Ann Walker is a freelance food writer. Send him suggestions, comments and questions at [email protected]

Cafe Amelie

Address: 71 Broadway, Fairfax

Call: 628-253-5161

Website: ameliefairfax.com

Kitchen: French bistro

Noise level: Comfortable

Selection of alcohol: wine and beer

Vegan dishes: Yes

Gluten Free Selections: Yes

Organic offers: Yes

Accepts dogs: Yes

Car park: Street

Hours: 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday; 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Tuesdays

Prices: $11 to $32

Reservations: Yes

Summary: A lively cafe offering farm-to-table organic French bistro fare