Worth the flight downtown for French-style cuisine

De Début á la fin

By Nolan Russell on May 14, 2015

Three words come to mind at the end of a meal at Aviateur in Tacoma: authentic, eloquent and simple. I admit, the atmosphere may be a little distracting as you're immersed in a confusing mix of retro-modern décor interrupted by pieces of typical French-bistro styled art, but where the eatery lacks in a "traditional style" ambiance, they make up for in the preparation and execution of their cuisine.

A sign of a good chef is knowing how to let individual components of a dish simply stand out on their own, and Bertrand Young has puzzled together in just doing that. From the pickled green salad acting as the edible aperitif of the meal to the roasted Maple Leaf duck breast (Magret de canard) enjoyed as the main entrée, each dish served is a sophisticated and authentic experience of flavors. The shared calamari appetizer (Calamar vol au vent) is no exception. Each paired sauce to the calamari, which includes the house made tomato jam, pesto and crème fraiche, is an enlightening example of how technical preparation allows each sauce to be thoroughly enjoyed on its own or mopped up in a sauce parade with complementary baguette and butter. Even the creme brûlée for dessert had exceeded expectations. No extra and unnecessary foo-foo components to overwhelm the dessert, just a very classic and timeless approach at perfectly crystalizing sugar on top of vanilla flavored custard, très bien!

Luckily there were three of us in total, so we were able to each order and share an appetizer, entrée, and dessert to create a complete flavor filled tasting frenzy. The addition of having a French-speaking waitstaff and primarily French dominating drink list just adds to the experience of dining at this establishment. We went on a Thursday evening, which was surprisingly empty. Though the service was attentive and wonderful when the meal was started, there were awkward lag times between certain points from start to finish. This normally wouldn't be something worth bringing up but when there's only one other table sitting in the restaurant and you're waiting for five minutes to be greeted, it may be a little off-.putting for some. I assure you, time and patience at the beginning of the meal will well be worth the satisfaction of enjoying classic French cuisine by the end.

AVIATEUR RESTAURANT, 1498 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.573.9000, aviateur.us