Ask April August 2006
Q: Are there any restaurants that still serve pike quenelles? This old, very rich favorite seems to have disappeared from French menus. —Susan
April says: Pike quenelles, a dish associated with Lyon, France, are ultra-rich dumplings made with ground pike fish, milk, butter, eggs, flour and seasonings that physically resembling the gefilte fish you see on Passover seder plates.
Mark Matyas, owner and chef of Slate Bleu says pike quenelles were “lost for a while, and are perhaps making a comeback now.” He speculates that the multi-step recipe dissuades many chefs from including them on their menus. But at Matyas’s Bucks County bistro, long hours are devoted to preparing the dish, which is finished with a crayfish sauce and American caviar.
Because quenelles are old-world, uber-classic French cuisine, it’s fitting that Le Bec-Fin also serves the hard-to-find plate. Order them from the menu downstairs at Le Bar Lyonnais. Or, by special request, you can savor them in the dining room, where a waiter will plate the specialty tableside — draining the poached quenelle from its pot of water, drying it on a towel, and resting it on a bed of rice before finishing with a lobster sauce.