Cafe Campagne: Gnarly and Radical

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"Think I could get a side of blow with my escargot?"
I always get a 1980's vibe when I walk into Café Campagne; there are a lot of brass fixtures and mirrors everywhere. The waiters wear tuxedo shirts. The only things missing are a couple potted ferns and some Japanese businessmen. They could also play that one Don Henley song about doing cocaine.

In true 1980's fashion, we started with the most pretentious thing possible: escargot. Ten dollars got us six snails: plump, glossy spirals of flesh with the exact mouthfeel of an erect clitoris, submerged in a shallow pool of garlic butter and blanketed in a green drift of minced parsley. This escargot was perfectly cooked, neither rubbery nor dirty tasting, as shitty escargot can sometimes be. One problem was that the snails didn't come in their shells, which I like because when it comes in the shells you get to use one of those cool spring-loaded shell-clamping tools that look like a speculum. I also didn't like the fact that the escargot came with only two toasted baguette slices for ALL OF THAT FUCKING BUTTER. Luckily we had more bread.

The classic salad verte ($7) was a bit pedestrian. Red and green leaf lettuce, arugula, and frisee were tossed in a tart vinaigrette. It seemed a little pricey at first, but at least you got a lot of it: they split the salad for us to share and BOTH plates were as big as the lead actress from Precious.

The beef tartare ($19) was very tasty, if a little bland. Diced chunks of beef, probably sirloin, were combined with capers and finely minced shallots. The worst thing about this dish was the presentation: two quenelles of tartare hid beneath a couple butter lettuce leaves which had been glazed in a creamy dressing. The tartare, shaped into a pair of small oblong loaves, resembled skinned testicles--really.

Truite Aux Amandes, the classic Trout Almondine, was $19 and was totally fucking awesome. A boneless fillet of trout as flaky as a homeopath swam in a lively pool of salty melted butter, and the whole thing was topped with a spiky pile of toasted slivered almonds.

We closed things out with a perfectly serviceable crème brulee ($7). The sugar crust was crackly, the crème lurking beneath was luscious like a 1950s pinup girl, and it came with a totally unnecessary shortbread cookie.

Michael Jackson and Ronald Reagan are deceased. Alf is a convicted child rapist. And Pac-Man became so addicted to Oxycontin that he had to have his stomach pumped; in a drug- addled haze, he tried to eat a ghost without first swallowing a Power Pellet. The irony is that if he hadn't been so high he would've been killed. The 1980s are dead, but

Café Campagne lives.

Rating: 7 Pac Men out of 10

Café Campagne is located at 1600 Post Alley

For reservations call 206-728-2233

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