Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tournesol - A Taste of the French Kitchen

Tournesol - 50-12 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101
7 Train to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave

I've been wanting to try Tournesol for a long time now--ever since I tasted their amazing bacon and onion quiches at the Taste of LIC event back in June. My cousin Vicky has been there a couple of times and suggested that we go after our birthday massages last week. A great plan and we enjoyed a delicious meal.

The vibe at Tournesol is very homey and personal--you almost feel like you're in someone's dining room rather than a restaurant. Local artists showcase their works on the walls and a rustic bar rests in the middle of the room. If you look up, you'll see that the ceiling is in its original design--another sign of personality and uniqueness. Needless to say, Tournesol is small but that's part of its charm. You really feel like you're part of something special here and that the food is going to be prepared with care, instead of being mass produced. The staff is charming and actually French--their accents are endearing to listen to.

Vicky and I decided to order from the appetizer menu and share everything. I love this approach because it allowed us to try a variety of dishes and even dessert. Here's what we tried:

Grilled Calamari With White Beans - What immediately sold us on this dish was the grilled vs. the fried calamari as well as the chorizo. We weren't disappointed--the calamari was quite large and the white bean salad provided a heartier touch. I was a little surprised to find that the chorizo was dried (I would've preferred it in its traditional form) but it was still good--crispy and smoky.

French Onion Soup - This was by far the stand-out of my entire meal. The cheesy crust was bubbly, hot and well-done--as I like it. The broth couldn't be more flavorful, as it was packed with tons of garlic. While I'd probably avoid this dish on a first date, I was more than happy to finish it in my cousin's company. She tried it as well and also commented on the fabulous garlic flavor-- tres bien!

Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart - Hmmm, I'm not sure what I was expecting here but it didn't quite meet my standards. There was a little too much acid from the tomato and the goat cheese could've been crumbled into smaller pieces. The flavor was too strong and I could only handle a couple of bites. However, the heirloom tomatoes that dressed this dish were fantastic.

Grilled Shrimp Skewer - This was yummy and we both devoured it quickly. The shrimp was large and grilled to perfection--with a nice char taste. It was accompanied by veggie cous-cous and frisee salad--refreshing and light, it was a great summer dish. I'd definitely recommend splitting it between two people--the portion was generous.

Bread Pudding - Another memorable dish, this ranked high for me, along with the onion soup. It was super soft and decadent, with a ribbon of cinnamon running through it. A garnish of a fresh raspberry and mint leaves made this even more elegant and once dipped into the luxurious Creme Anglaise sauce, I was hooked. Although Vicky swore that she didn't want dessert, she simply couldn't resist this heavenly treat.

Service and Cost:
We didn't have complains about the service except that it seemed inconsistent. A new waiter every few minutes seemed strange but it didn't bother us because all of the waiters were very attractive (and polite) French men. We had one female waitress who took our dessert order and she was a bit short with us and not as friendly as the men. But overall, the service was nice and just like Tournesol itself, it was personal and homey.

Tournesol is wallet friendly. Appetizers range from $7-$11.50, entrees from $14-$19 and desserts are all $7. You can easily spend less than $30 per person here for a great dinner. They also serve brunch on weekends, which is affordable, with most dishes under $12.

3 Mmmms

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