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Cafe' Campagne

Last weekend when James told me that we had a photo shoot scheduled for Pioneer Square at 1:00, I figured we might as well finally try Café Campagne.

It was with just that attitude that I made a reservation for 11:00 on Sunday. After I was finished, I realized I had just made reservations. For brunch. At a French restaurant. It’s like I don’t even know me anymore.

Café Campagne is located on the corner of Pine Street and Post Alley, so even if you’ve never eaten here, you’ve probably walked past while at Pike Place Market. Wouldn’t it be great if I had a photo to post of the outside so you could immediately recognize it? But that would mean I’m firing on all pistons when I’m out in public before noon on the weekends, which I clearly wasn’t.

We arrived on time for our reservation, but I asked the hostess if we could wait for a table by the window so as to enjoy the sunshine. She graciously agreed and told us we could wait in the bar, where I ordered a mimosa ($8).

I don’t like mimosas, I have no idea why I ordered it and I wouldn’t do so again. However, I would order whatever the two women seated next to me had, which was some pink fizzy drink also served in a champagne glass that was apparently “sweet and delicious.” I had cocktail envy, but not enough to have two of them before noon. Ok, the “before noon” didn’t stop me as much as the 1:00 photo shoot, since driving the camera while under the influence of juiced down champagne is probably only my idea of a good time.

When I saw the food this guy’s server dropped off, I switched the camera to the restaurant spy setting so I could sneak OPF (other people’s food) shots. This guy’s enjoyment of his oeufs was almost PG13. I didn’t know it then, but this was the dish James had ordered, so more detail on what he was enjoying later.

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I’ve only had croque-monsieur ($13) about a million times in my life, except in my house we called it a grilled cheese with ham. I was a little puzzled at the big deal the menu was making on these sandwiches. Of the five sandwiches listed, three of them started with croque and all had Parisian ham and Gruyère. Croque-madame ($15) adds an egg, croque-savoyard ($15) adds tomato. Loving a grilled cheese with tomato, I decided on that, wondering what the world was coming to, paying $15 for a grilled cheese.

When our server set my plate down in front of me, I realized this wasn’t going to be any regular ol’ grilled cheese. This plate was absolutely gorgeous and my mouth, which had fallen back to sleep after the mimosa, perked up and started the waterworks. Even though I hadn’t tasted it yet, I knew it would be awesome because the cheese had been toasted to a lovely brown on the edges, the tomatoes looked perfectly delicious, and any ham, Parisian or otherwise, was properly hidden. Upon cutting into it, my knife sinking through the beautifully creamy cheese, I heard the satisfying crunch that indicated the croque was living up to its name. Sometimes the open face sandwich sacrifices the crunch, but not this sandwich. After my first bite, I realized that I’d been eating the wrong Gruyère in the past and that a toasted open-faced cheese sandwich kicks a grilled cheese’s ass. At least at Campagne. This sandwich definitely solved the “Why so many croques” question and I’m surprised more menu items don’t have more croque sprinkled on them.

James had the oeufs en meurette (poached eggs served on garlic croutons with pearl onions, bacon and mushrooms in red wine-foie gras sauce) with pommes frites ($16). This is the same dish I had been stalking while waiting on our food to arrive. I’m glad James ordered this as it’s something I wouldn’t have even considered because of how over-the-top rich the description had been. Read the details again–who has that for breakfast? It was the promise of garlic croutons that called me, and look at that–it’s a ginormous crouton. Otherwise known as a piece of really thick toast. I’m shocked at how good this was, and here’s the simple thing about Campagne that I figured out. These people know bread. They use it to build a magical foundation and then toss on whatever the hell they want and it’s all good. Even though the sauce was rich, James loved it and said he’d have it again.

The frites that came with the oeufs. Eh.

As we were finishing up our breakfast, I heard the folks at the next table ordering. Specifically I heard the mom say, “Look honey, they have French toast.” When I’d read the description (brioche fried in bourbon egg batter with maple syrup, $11) I almost ordered it and I don’t even like French toast. It sounded amazing, but James just ignored me when I begged him to order two breakfasts. I know he regretted it when we saw that plate, even if he won’t admit it.

So here’s where I have to concede to the Breakfast Club president. Foodie, that was one of best meals I’ve eaten in a long time, any time of the day. It’s still a crazy hour to be out, but since it was technically a work day anyway, it wasn’t too obscene. The prices were a little over the top for breakfast/brunch, but I understand that the ingredients are good quality and the rent alone on the place has to be crazy. The food is worth it and I’d take anybody interested. I have to get back soon, anyway, because I didn’t order dessert.

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