Stepping into Le Café Cent-Dix, a French and European cuisine restaurant on North Aurora Street, you would not think you were on “Restaurant Row” in downtown Ithaca. The interior, matched with the food, is more of the caliber of a restaurant located in New York City.
Soft jazz plays softly in the background. The left wall is covered with a variety of differently shaped antique mirrors with gold and silver frames, reflecting the wall of liquor and wine on display behind the bar. Dark brown leather booths line the left wall, with matte black light fixtures hanging down over the center of the tables, placing a spotlight on the food. Additional stand-alone tables are nestled to the right of the entrance against a worn red brick wall. In keeping with the casual Parisian theme, small blue and white tiles cover the floor. The use of dark, rich colors and soft textures creates a casual and comfortable interior.
Whether you are a meat, fish or poultry lover, there is a dish to satisfy your craving for French cuisine. To start, my friend and I ordered roasted beets, bibb salad and escargot. The beets were marinated in a red wine vinegar with red onions and fresh tarragon, and they were easy to share between the two of us. The bibb salad was presented as a full head of butter lettuce standing up in the center of the plate, dressed with a champagne vinaigrette of shallots and fine herbs, which came together to create one of the best dressings I have ever tasted. The escargot, a staple in French cuisine, was seasoned with parsley, shallots, garlic and butter in a ramekin covered by a layer of puff pastry, locking the flavors in.
Each night of the week, Cent-Dix features a different plat du jour. We ordered the featured plat du jour that night — a bouillabaisse consisting of a mix of scallops, mussels, shrimp, white fish, crostini and rouille (a thick sauce of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and cayenne pepper). It was a popular order for the evening; I saw it on many guests’ tables.
The poulet rôti is a known crowd pleaser and has never disappointed me the many times I’ve ordered it. The dish consists of a half roasted chicken with potato purée, haricots verts and a thyme jus. The skin was crisp and the potato purée was smooth and seasoned well.
Another traditional French dish, trout amandine, was an additional star of the evening. It is prepared in a lemon-brown butter and served filleted atop haricots verts and browned, crisp potatoes. It’s topped with slivered almonds, which adds a desirable crunch to the delicate dish.
The meal came to a close with an order of espresso and freshly brewed drip coffee from Forty Weight Coffee Roasters, a local Ithaca coffee company.
For a party of six or fewer looking to treat themselves to a wonderful meal in Ithaca at a moderate price, Le Café Cent-Dix will exceed your expectations with its exceptional food, friendly service and casual setting.