This week, we decided to brave the treacherous four-minute walk down Franklin Avenue and visit La Poubelle.
We had some valid reasons:
- It’s French (see my last two blogs).
- The lady sitting at the table next to us on Father’s Day last week recommended it, and she didn’t know I was a blogger, or what I even blog about. We just started talking about our dogs, and she randomly asked if we had ever been to La Poubelle. I told her it was already on my list, but it’s a really good sign to have someone mention it right away as a dog-friendly place.
- One of my readers — who also happens to be a neighbor I’d never met until I started the blog — suggested it. Full disclosure: she also happens to own it.
Perfect walking weather
La Poubelle opens at 5, which sounded a bit late at first when you have a kid in tow, but then I remembered it was the second-longest day of the year and the vampires would still be lying low (no disrespect to vampires).
Walking down Franklin in the late afternoon this time of year is lovely. It’s not too hot, nor too cold.
And we saw plenty of other dogs.
Right before we got there, Azzy came face-to-face with a chihuahua who literally stopped in its tracks and ran toward a bunch of random people who were talking nearby and hid behind their legs for safety. It was quite a scene, and Azzy wasn’t even paying this dog any mind.
Then La Poubelle’s blue awning appeared, and I knew the time was nigh.
Nestled between Counterpoint Records & Books and Oaks Gourmet, La Poubelle has about eight tables outside (by my very rough estimate) — a combination of two-tops and four-tops.
They had literally just opened, and some of the outdoor tables were already occupied. Fresh flowers adorn every table, and there is a glassful of crayons waiting to be put to good use on the butcher-paper tablecloths.
Happy Hour starts at 5
My clever boy sat down, picked up a crayon whose color was called Salmon, and proceeded to draw a salmon with it. Too cute.
The server brought out regular menus and happy hour menus.
I perused the HH menu and saw a lot of things I wanted to try. Oysters are always a favorite, but I only eat oysters during the months with an ‘r,’ in them, so, in June, that was out. Eventually I decided on the lamb loin chops and desired to wash it down with the Derby.
La Poubelle’s version (there are many) of the Derby cocktail is the perfect blend of maple syrup, lemon and bourbon.
First, you tasted the maple syrup, and right before it became too sweet, the lemon cut in and made its presence known. It was the ultimate marriage.
I love simple flavors. They are so powerful and straightforward, I will devour them happily and savor every moment. This really was the perfect drink for my sensibilities. Why didn’t I think of it?
I forced Mike to try it, and even he gave it a thumbs-up! And, it’s Paleo. OK, not the bourbon, but the mixers were, and most mixers aren’t.
Mike has come up with a new word to describe me: Drinkologist. It means someone who analyzes the nuances of drinks. Mike’s an IPAlogist, because guess. Maybe there’s already a word for what I am, so let me know in the comments!
Moving on … maple syrup really is the best sweetener if you are trying to follow a healthy diet. Not that anybody drinking bourbon is worried about following a “healthy diet,” but if you are just trying to do the bare minimum like so many of us are, this is definitely “healthier” than, say, a mudslide, amiright?
The dourbon in my Berby tasted like a pleasant afterthought, which means either a) it’s so expertly mixed that it cloaks the booze (most likely for this classy joint), or b) it’s too weak.
I needed to solve this mystery (for the readers), so I decided to get another one to be sure. OK, three.
Verdict: There was definitely alcohol in there.
As expected, Mike and Sasha both ordered the same thing: pommes frites and a slider.
Sasha always orders a slider wherever we go — and he is as jaded as they get — but he went out of his way to express how good this one was.
Hearing, “This is really good!” may not be a big deal for normal families, but, trust me, it was a big deal.
I snuck a couple fries, served in a cute silver pot, when Sasha was in the bathroom, and then I had to restrain myself. They were seasoned and cooked perfectly — and skinny like I like them. Mike didn’t say much while he annihilated his slider, but I think it’s good when they don’t say anything.
So back to my lamb. It was served with white onions, roasted garlic and potatoes, and it had that down-home, buttery, cooked-with-love flavor to it.
It’s hard to describe it except to say it just feels like comfort cooking to me. The lamb was prepared perfectly, and the simple, lightly seasoned onion/potato combination hit my sweet spot again.
I’ve mentioned that I’m not a carbs person, but I will take a well-seasoned potato any day.
I gnawed on every bone until such behavior didn’t look decent anymore, then I put each one back on the plate and stole longing glances at the elusive bits that had escaped my attempts to set them free.
Eating lamb always gives me the feels. When Sasha was born, Mike and I started our own family tradition of serving lamb instead of turkey on Thanksgiving. Basically, I only eat lamb on special occasions, and taking a bite of this dish transported me to my happy place.
Here’s a first: La Poubelle is the only dog-friendly restaurant we’ve been to where the server asked us if we wanted some chicken for our dog.
Of course, we said yes! Azzy has a special place in his heart for chicken. Ever since he became an influencer, I’ve been calling him, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” and his ears always prick up at the “chicken dinner” part.
A delightful French man soon came out with some grilled chicken in his hand, looked at Azzy and said he thought it was for a smaller dog, gave Azzy the chicken he had, then came back with more chicken in a bowl. Now that’s service!
(Note: My neighbor/the owner wasn’t there, so I don’t think this treatment was reserved exclusively for Azzy.)
Beware the pupparazzi
There are plenty of people- and dog-watching opportunities here. I love taking photos of dogs, so Mike started calling me the pupparazzi!
I had taken a seat that had my back to the street, but I was in front of a large window that allowed me to see the happenings behind me, and Mike kept pointing out all the dogs that kept walking by. I don’t like posting pics of people or their dogs without permission, so you need to just trust me.
There are meters along this part of Franklin, plus street parking along Bronson, Tamarind, and other adjoining streets. It’s really hit-or-miss, and we prefer to walk, anyway, but if you’re wheeling it, La Poubelle offers a valet service for $8.
’60s at 6
By 6pm, the last empty table outside was occupied.
I could hear some catchy ’60s Motown playing inside, but the majority of patrons were sitting outside (though the bar inside was full, too). I think we all wanted to enjoy the longest days of the year, and people really seemed like they were having a good time.
At one point, I went to use the restroom, and now the indoor tables were filling up, too. The energy here was good, and even the other people waiting for the restroom were nice.
By the time we were getting ready to leave, people were spilling out onto the sidewalk and chatting like local, neighborhood people will do.
I noticed there was a crowd of people waiting to get into the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. I’m usually only in this neck of the woods during the day, and I had no idea it was so happening in my hood!
On our way home, we stopped at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream a few doors down to get some chocolate fudge brownie ice cream for Sasha.
Sasha seriously bugged us about it the entire time we were at La Poubelle. He kept saying, “I’m not rushin,’ but when are we gonna get ice cream?” Then I would say, “Actually, you are Russian,” and he would get confused for a while. It bought us some time.
I’d never seen such a long line at the ice cream shop before. Again, we usually go during the day, when it’s less crowded, but this time it was crazy at 8pm, and it was so packed that I stood there and stared at the line of people like I just fell off the turnip truck.
They have rotating flavors — both regular and vegan. Sasha’s palate is not yet refined enough to embrace vegan flavors, so he got his ice cream dairy-style, and I’m always happy with the vegan chocolate.
The four of us made our way home at a leisurely pace while there was a sliver of daylight remaining, ran into one of our ultra-cool neighbors, Kenny, and exchanged pleasantries with him and his chihuahua. I made a mental note to return for a proper dinner when we had a sitter for Sasha.
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: If you are reading this early enough, La Poubelle is hosting the Democratic debates on Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27. Doors open at 5pm; debate starts at 6pm. We won’t be able to come inside with Azzy, but maybe we’ll press ourselves against the window!