Our very special MCC extended interlude concludes!
Once again we return to Massachusetts Avenue, the part of downtown Indianapolis where trendy eateries cheerfully serve those of us who don’t live in any of the upscale north-side neighborhoods. For my birthday last May, my wife and I tried a relatively new place that specializes in unpronounceable French cuisine. Anne and I met in high school German class, but we did our best to fake our way through dinner from one of Germany’s notable European colleagues.
Indy hasn’t had any French restaurants on our side of town in years (R.I.P. Chez Jean), and it’s not a category we’ve historically sought too often. When it comes to birthday dinners, though, I’m always in search of something new and different, within certain pricing limits. So full credit goes to me for choosing an evening at the delightful Cropichon et Bidibule. As the helpful Indianapolis Star informed its Francophobic readers in a recent article, “Cropichon et Bidibule is pronounced ‘crow-pee-shawn ay bee-dee-bool’. The ‘ay’ rhymes with ‘pay’; the ‘bool’ rhymes with ‘tool’.” The article was complimentary, but their rhyming choices seem mean. Considering how the image “crow pee” doesn’t exactly encourage one’s appetite, I feel like maybe they should’ve skipped the pronunciation fixation and left that to our Midwest imaginations, if only to allow the CeB waitstaff a chance to experience the joy of having their workplace’s name mangled a thousand different incorrect ways.
(At least five of those verbal miscues would be my own fault because I could never remember the name of the place when I tried to suggest it. My favorite near-miss was “Cornpone and Beedee-Beedee”, which suggests an exciting crossover between Buck Rogers and Huckleberry Finn.)
Language barrier notwithstanding, the meal was elegant and satisfying. After a generous plate of charcuterie that we tore into before either of us could snap a pic, out came the main dishes. Mine was Magret de Canard a la creme au Poune — Cognac flambeed duck breast with a green peppercorn cream sauce. Fortunately my son took French in high school and used to correct me gleefully whenever I hurt his ears with awkward French language attempts, so I tried to remember his pointed pointers as I ordered. The response from the waitress was encouraging, but I can’t tell if I got it right or if that’s what she says to all us uncultured hicks.
And this was my wife’s Boeuf Bourguignon. Hers was easier to order because Boeuf Bourguignon isn’t quite so uncommon. I think Swanson used to make a TV-dinner version, except they spelled it “beef”, probably because focus groups declared surplus vowels unnatural and unpatriotic.
For my birthday dessert, La Crepe a la Creme de Citron Faite Moison — crepes with lemon cream and raspberry coulis. This was my first time witnessing a coulis outside of a Chopped dessert round.
The average Chopped judge might’ve appreciated that the strong citrus tartness overpowered any and all sweetness, so for me this was a very rare dessert that didn’t taste like a sugar-infused sugar sandwich topped with sugar sauce.
On the other hand, for this course I didn’t receive the same sign of approval from the waitress after ordering. Either I botched my vowel sounds, I accidentally pronounced a last syllable somewhere, or she hates it when guests try too hard. I can only imagine the guttural atrocities they must have to endure every night. Then again, they’re kind of asking for it merely by giving their restaurant a complicated name like “Crabbyshack at Buddha-Bull” when they could’ve settled for a more accommodating label like “That One French Place” or “Pepe le Pastry”.