It’s official: Epicurienne has discovered a new guilty pleasure: Flammekueche. Translated from Alsatian, it means ‘flame cake’. It doesn’t arrive in a flash of fire, as its name might suggest, but is in fact cooked in a wood-fired oven. In the eating, it’s not dissimilar to pizza. In the words of Blue Peter, here’s one I ate earlier:
Monsieur and I were shopping with my belle-mère recently and, as is the norm wherever we are, we thought it would be a good idea to factor some lunch into the equation. My mother-in-law and husband knew exactly where to go: an Alsatian specialty brewery called Les Trois Brasseurs (nothing to do with lingerie… a brasseur is a brewer).
I’m a girl for whom menus often bring on a decision-making crisis, so on this occasion I was grateful that the sometimes challenging act of deciding what to imbibe was taken out of my hands. Monsieur and his mother ordered us each a tasting rack of house brews; ’tis the thing to do at Les Trois Brasseurs, apparently.
The house beers, arranged in colour order in their rack are named for their colours: white (blanche), light (blonde), amber (ambrée) and dark (brune). I started with the white and worked my way towards the dark, hopping around a bit in between. The white was yeasty, the blonde like lager, the amber was malty and the dark like Guinness with a hit of mocha. The sum total was a little over a pint, so not excessive, but certainly a novel approach to beer consumption. This is the small plates concept for beer lovers.
Beer is all well and good, but what about the food, which was our primary reason for being at the Trois Brasseurs in the first place? The menu covers a wide spectrum of traditional French dishes, not just flame cakes. There are salads, terrines, foie gras and eggs en cocotte to start. More substantial options include choucroutes, burgers, steaks and something divine called a planche Normande, or Norman platter, consisting of warm, oozy camembert, ham, steamed potatoes, green salad and toast. Even with the siren call of such fare, I confess that, for once, I didn’t spend too long perusing my options. The Norman platter would have to wait; Flammekueche was about to be crossed off my foodie bucket list.
Now the issue became which flammekueche to choose. Just as you’d find in a pizzeria, flammekueche can be made with a number of different toppings. Here, the menu provides eighteen options to confuse decision-making inept folk like me. There’s the Irish (onions, white ham, cheddar, mustard and an egg) or the Kebab (confit onions, kebab pieces, balls of minced lamb, Provençale tomatoes, salad and white sauce), a Four Seasons with the usual suspects appearing as ingredients, and Monsieur’s choice of the day: La Tex Mex, comprising onions, peppers, barbecue sauce, beef hash, chorizo, cheddar and paprika. I’m almost surprised they didn’t present him with a sombrero to wear whilst eating it.
I stuck to a simple classic – the Savoyarde, which is simply presented with onions, finely sliced potatoes, lardons and reblochon. It was the embodiment of the ‘less is more’ philosophy – practically countrified in its unpretentiousness, yet absolutely delicious. I managed every last bite, relieved to find that, in spite of its size (equivalent to a 12 inch pizza) the flame cake base is very thin, making for easy consumption. It also allows for the flavours to sing without being drowned by the presence of too much dough.
We didn’t tarry as there was Very Important Shopping to attend to, but before signing off I’d like to point out the Les Trois Brasseurs has a micro-brewery in each of its locations, allowing them to brew on site whatever it is you drink. They’re also kind to vegetarians, offering via the menu to make a vege Four Seasons flammekueche. There are other vege options, too, and plenty of flame cakes could easily be made without a meaty ingredient, rendering them vege-appropriate – just ask nicely. In France, most dining establishments still seem to think that vegetarianism is a mental illness, so it’s refreshing to see a place like this setting an example for its peers.
The verdict: Definitely recommended if you find yourself in France and can see past the slightly cheesy beer-hall decor. A flammekueche costs around €10.00. You can have a decent steak with a pair of side dishes of your choice and choice of sauce for around €16.00. Desserts come in at the €5-7.oo mark. There’s a good selection of set menu options at seriously competitive prices.
Epic has found she likes flammekueche and will hopefully soon return to Les Trois Brasseurs with an empty stomach, ready to be filled with more. Perhaps she’ll even manage to squeeze in some of that Planche Normande. And another of those beer racks. Yes, Les Trois Brasseurs is going to stay on the Epic radar for the foreseeable.
Click here for Les 3 Brasseurs website. NB They’re also in Canada!