Sunday, August 24, 2008
This weekend marks six months since I moved to France.
(For those keeping score, that makes it six months and one week since I got married. Pretty cool honeymoon, eh?)
I decided last night that even though eating out in Paris is almost always a ridiculously expensive proposition (kebab shops and cheap Indian restos excepted), we should go out to celebrate. But where to go? We have a couple of favorite spots already, but I'm keeping them in the quiver until one of my buddies comes for a visit next week...
In the meantime, Alannah has gotten into the swing of using iCal and has been filling out a calendar full of fun cultural events we could attend. In her research, she discovered that there's a huge community of "Far West"-philes here. They're into rockabilly, folk music, rodeos, and - above all - country music. D'you think I'm kidding? Check out this link to Country-France. We scrolled through their events (actually, the rockabilly nights - even though they're out at Disneyland - sound kinda cool) and found most of them to be sponsored by Buffalo Grill.
Buffalo Grill is a chain that's proudly proclaiming how it's broken the 300-restaurant mark this year. Not only are they all over France, but they've invaded Spain, Luxembourg and now Switzerland as well. Considering the French take on American food has been, umm, worth a few laughs at best, we decided this is where we'd go for the celebratory dinner. After all, it would either be good enough to remind us of our homeland... Or be bad enough to remind us why we left. That and I really wanted some onion rings.
And to our surprise, while the place is a mixed bag, they largely get it right. Hell, they even serve actual buffalo! (Or Canadian bison, to be exact...) The onion rings are good. The portions are almost American-sized, but thank goodness they're not quite... we could barely finish our larger-than-French dishes. The quality of meat is excellent for a chain restaurant. And the chili con carne actually had some heat in it, which is unfathomable here.
Of course, there are some things they do get wrong. Horribly wrong. Their "Buffalo wings" come with barbecue sauce. Someone should tell them that the "Buffalo" in wings refers to the city in New York, not the wild west. My Texane platter (aforementioned chili, tender glazed bbq ribs, buffalo wings, a delicately baked potato, and... spring salad!?) - cited by the menu as "exactly like real cowboys eat!" - would probably cause more outrage in the cowboy community than Brokeback Mountain did. And worst of all was the godawful country/western music playing in the background. I'd be fine with some Hank or Johnny or Patsy, but some disjointed mix of Toby Keith-style neocountry horseshit? Hell, I'd take that chump Hank Jr. over the lunch-losing chorus of Chely Wright's "Bumper of my SUV". (Click the video link. I double dog dare you.)
Despite the song selection making me throw up in my mouth a little, our meal was enjoyable and succeeded in satisfying some of our longings for the You-Ess-of-Ay. Hell, even downing a cold 33cl bottle of "Bud" (it doesn't go by "Budweiser" here, as the original Czech brew owns the trademark in Europe) hit the spot.