Not long after Muriel and Michel Loubiere opened Au Midi in October 2008, word quickly spread about this delightful French restaurant, and it was soon rated one of the best restaurants in the area. It has continuously maintained this status—thanks in no small part to the culinary talents of chef Muriel Loubiere.
My friend Sandy and I are greeted and seated by Michel in the warmth of the small cozy restaurant. We order a bottle of Soquel Vineyards’ Sauvignon Blanc ($34), an excellent pairing to go with our main dish of seafood.
But first, we get an appetizer to start, a stunning beet and goat cheese mousse salad with apple vinaigrette dressing and basil/lemon-infused apple ($11.50). This is such a far cry from the average restaurant salad that I’m filled with joy at every bite. Michel brings us a little soupe du jour to try—cream of onion—yet another culinary wonder from the Au Midi kitchen.
Sandy orders her favorite dish of Mue’s Mussels ($23.50)—prepared à la Muriel in her own special sauce. After trying a few, I will have to go back for a plate of my own tender, moist and succulent mollusks. We order lots more bread to soak up the sauce.
My entrée of Loch Duart Scottish Salmon ($26.50) is a perfectly prepared dish. Served over a bed of leeks, shallots and cilantro sauce, the salmon is tender and scrumptious. I don’t remember the last time I was served leeks in a restaurant—an oft-ignored vegetable native to the Mediterranean. Some ultra-slender green beans and a puree of bright orange squash with chopped parsley are served as accompaniment.
Other entrees include Sea Scallops, Chicken Fricassee, Premium Pork Loin, Filet of Lamb, Cod Basquaise and a couple of vegetarian dishes as well.
Isle Flotante or Floating Island ($8.50) is an extraordinarily delicious dessert of bouffant soft meringue floating on a sea of egg sauce with flecks of vanilla, and presented with two slivers of vanilla bean—served as an occasional special. My friend and I also shared an amazing French Apple Pie ($8.50) that looked like something out of one of the best pastry shops in Paris—and tasted like it, too. Muriel’s expertise in the field of desserts is particularly impressive, but her passion for cooking shows in every single dish she lovingly prepares. Each mouthful of food is packed with flavor —all with a very French flair—and so artfully presented that one can’t wait to pick up a knife and fork and try it.
Au Midi changes the menu regularly and runs specials all the time. Mussels are on the menu right now (good to eat in a month with “R,” they say), and we can look for duck breast, cassoulet, and “new goodies to feast on” coming in the fall. Check the website for updates.
Au Midi has a curtain separating dining area and kitchen, and, as we were the last customers to leave, we ventured “backstage” to congratulate the chef in her spotless kitchen.
Au Midi Restaurant & Bistrot, 7960 Soquel Drive, Suite E, Aptos (in Aptos Village Square), 685-2600. aumidi.com. Hours: Wednesday to Saturday: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday: Dinner 5:30 to 9 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Closed for vacation from Oct. 10 through Oct. 18. Lunch will be discontinued during the winter months.
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