Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bastille Day brunch at the Passerelle Bistro

Celebrating La Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) in France the last few years has spoiled me forever; the longing for a crusty baguette, a good smelly cheese, saucisson sec and a glass of rosé wine is especially strong on this holiday. Despite being back in the US we decided to celebrate the birthplace of my son Mikus properly (and with rosé) – with brunch at Passerelle Bistro, the new French place in town.

Right on the Reedy River, overlooking the falls from what formerly was Overlook Grill, the restaurant has an ideal location. Passerelle is the French word for footbridge, and as the Liberty Bridge is just a few steps away the name is quite appropriate. We had reservations and so were quickly seated in the outside patio area; luckily there was still space under the awning, as it rained on and off the whole morning and the seating under the umbrellas looked to be a bit wet.

The brunch menu was heavily French-influenced, and while several options looked good I finally chose the moules Basquaise, with chorizo, peppers and herbs. Roberts chose the Benedict Passerelle with ham, fries and hollandaise, and the boys split a croque monsieur, a grilled ham & Gruyère on sourdough bread topped with Mornay sauce that also came with fries. The service was professional (although the tab was incorrectly calculated), and the kids were warmly welcomed; a great Falls Park coloring book was immediately provided, water came in spill-proof cups and splitting a dish was absolutely no problem.

The rest of my experience just didn’t have that viva la France! feel. The mussels didn’t have the chorizo kick I expected, and although they weren’t bad, I’ve had better. The boys' croque monsieur tasted just like I remember from France, but then came the highly recommended profiteroles – light cream puffs, black raspberry ice cream and chocolate sauce. The “light” cream puffs were heavy and tasteless, the chocolate sauce not enough to make them edible. We finished off the ice cream but I wish I would have stuck with my gut and ordered the crème brûlée, maybe the experience would have left a better taste in my mouth.

The next time we have company in town we might try Passerelle Bistro for dinner, as the scenery is a major plus especially for showing off Falls Park. However my palate has been spoiled by the real thing, and the French-influenced brunch menu just didn’t impress me.

Passerelle Bistro on Urbanspoon
As the drizzle let up for a few minutes we crossed to the other side of the river farther upstream, and got to the old mayonnaise factory (now Wyche Pavilion) just before a downpour. The two-story brick paint shop was built by J.E. Sirrine in 1904 for the Greenville Coach Factory, but was sold in 1911 to Duke's mayonnaise. Now it is a beautiful spot for a wedding, catered by Larkins on the River just next door, and the ideal spot to wait out the rain (when there isn’t a wedding reception taking place). It turns out we need not have bothered, as the boys both managed to get soaked before returning to their car…


  1. At least they got the croque monsieur right! That's something. But the real test... was there cheese? How was the wine list?

  2. Who doesn't love French tasty food??!!!! Cheese, baguette, and wine - so, so brilliant choice.


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