187 Rue Principale

187 Rue Principale

My husband Tom and I recently spent a delightful evening enjoying French-inspired cuisine at 187 Rue Principale in charming downtown Emmaus. This unique spot serves brunch during the day; at night, it transforms into a cozy bistro that serves intimate dinners. In true French fashion, tipping is not allowed—employees are paid a fair wage. 

Owner Mitzi Cullen celebrated the eatery’s second anniversary in November. She and Executive Chef Christopher Goodwin have created a farm-to-table menu utilizing local purveyors to ensure freshness. Chef Christopher practices sous-vide cooking for many of his ingredients, which is a method of slow cooking meats and vegetables in a vacuum-sealed, temperature-controlled steam environment. This interesting cooking practice aids in retaining moisture and preserving natural flavors in foods, all while preventing overcooking.

We were seated at a comfortable banquette in the main dining area by Brandon. The other server that night was Alex, and together, the two provided professional yet friendly service. Wednesday is half-price wine night (both glass or bottle) and we sipped a glass of 2013 Joseph Drouhin Chardonnay while we enjoyed a tasty amuse-bouche of a mini buckwheat pancake with quince and admired the decor. The red bar stools complement the attractive marble bar and wall of liquors. Red is carried throughout onto the comfortable leather-covered dining chairs and banquettes. The lighting is perfect for the muted colors that accent the attractive artwork and clean wooden floors. A rear dining area is similarly decorated and increases the total indoor seating capacity to about 55. There are fabulous still life photographs in this room, which were taken by Mitzi’s son. During warmer months, al fresco seating allows diners to enjoy the sights of downtown Emmaus.

The dinner menu is small but mighty. In addition to three salads and a daily soup, appetizers include a Cheese Plate with a selection of four fromages with grape compote and three textures of honey; Beef Tartare with accompaniments; Torchon of Foie Gras with apple and pear chutney, Pain Perdu (bread similar to French Toast); as well as Scallops Served Three Ways—pan seared, tartare, or crème fraîche. There are also three selections on the small plate menu—Duck Carpaccio with charred onion, grapefruit, and peach foam; Scallop Carpaccio with orange, apple sticks, and beet caviar; and a Lump
Crabmeat Salad.

Mussels are the specialty of the house. Tom chose the Provençal preparation with garlic, shallots, and wine as his appetizer, and I chose the Mille-Feuille—a layer of red and golden beets, sous-vide carrot, house made quark (low-fat curd cheese), balsamic reduction, and fennel puree.

Tom’s generous portion of mussels were very fresh and the broth excellent. We both enjoyed the accompanying multigrain bread that was perfect for dipping. My tower of roasted golden and red beets wrapped in a thin carrot slice with delicate cheese over a fennel puree was very unique. It was an interesting blend of tastes and very different from anything I’ve had in a long while.

For dinner, I chose the Duck Breast with cajun spices, ten stewed local vegetables with Pistou (a French version of pesto sauce), carrot-anise glaze, and a Meyer lemon marmalade. The duck was very lean, as it should be, yet crispy on the outside. The veggies were fantastic—a unique blend stewed and accented with the savory glaze. I loved this dish. Tom ordered the Coq au Vin, a 187 Rue Principale favorite. The leg and breast of chicken in wine sauce was served with pearl onions and pancetta with a red wine glaze and a crispy sourdough baguette. Tom enjoyed this traditional French dish. Both portions were beautifully presented.  We also tasted a side dish of Wild Mushroom Pancakes, which were yummy. Other sides include Collard Greens, French Lentil Ragout, and Yukon Gold Mash Puree, while additional entrée selections include Halibut with Horseradish Panko Crust, Mushroom Duxelles, Ginger Glazed Carrot and Beurre Saffron; Seared Arctic Char with French Lentils; and Honey-Glazed Skate. There is also a vegetarian selection available on
the menu.

I had a glass of Louis Latour Pinot Noir while Tom tried the Raymond Red Blend from Napa with our meals. We appreciated that Brandon served our wine (both red and white) in proper stemware, which so often is overlooked in many restaurants today.

Later, we enjoyed excellent coffee, fresh from the French press, with dessert. I ordered the Apple Crêpe with cinnamon and fresh cream; Tom finished with the Poached Pear Crêpe with caramel sauce and sea salt.  Both were to die for and a wonderful way to end the meal.

Executive Chef Christopher Goodwin graduated in 1990 from New York Food and Hotel Management Culinary Academy and brings 25 years of experience to 187 Rue Principale including stints in New York at Aquavit, Picholine, and Tavern on the Green as well as tenure at Glasbern Inn, Hotel Bethlehem, and Hook. He is very personable and I look forward to chatting with him on our next visit.

187 Rue Principale
187 Main St, Emmaus

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram