Brasserie Julie: What is the French word for mediocre?

(Photos: Zeid Odeh)
Swefieh Village has been lively and active in introducing all sorts of culinary varieties from various international cuisines to Amman. One such restaurant is Brasserie Julie, which was circulated on social media by those in Amman’s food scene.اضافة اعلان

Brasserie Julie is a French restaurant serving dishes from Parisian cuisine. In culinary terms, Parisian recipes traditionally incorporate white wine to produce meals with an acidic tinge.

Parisians, and the French in general, are renowned for their flavorful vinaigrette salad dressings. My personal favorites are those that include several kinds of vinegar, such as balsamic and cider vinegar, along with mustard, oil, and shallots.

I spotted the restaurant while walking in Swefieh Village, and because I was excited for a quick upscale lunch, I decided to enter around noon.

The restaurant’s feel is chic with its outdoor seating. It emulates the experience of having a coffee on the streets of Paris. The indoor seating area is impressive with its elegant marble tables and a well-lit dining room. The details of the interior and its décor made me feel like I had stepped into a different realm, one more sophisticated than the general ambiance of Swefieh Village.

Instantly — and despite my work day ahead — my instinct was to order sparkling wine.

The restaurant serves breakfast from 9am until 12pm and lunch from 1pm until 11:30pm. Since I went at noon, there was an hour-long gap where they did not serve food, but the bar was open. While waiting for lunch service to start, I ordered a lychee Bellini, a sparkling wine with lychee puree. And no, I do not have any regrets about drinking early on a Sunday.

I had ample time to look over the menu. There was a wide variety of options from salads, sandwiches, and appetizers to fish, steak, oysters, and cheeses. I was fond of the different culinary techniques used on the menu, such as consommé and terrine, as these classical French cooking methods are rarely seen in Amman’s restaurants.

Consommé is a clear broth made by clarifying a stock with egg whites, causing impurities to rise and create a clump. The soup needs to be on a constant low simmer. As it boils, the clump mixes with the soup, causing it to collect impurities to be scooped out later. Such a technique requires a great deal of patience and skill.

I ordered the Ahi tuna niçoise salad, tuna tataki, raclette burger, and shrimp risotto per our server’s recommendation.

The niçoise salad is a traditional salad comprised of potatoes, tuna, olives, green beans, and a mustard vinegar-based vinaigrette. Its presentation was modern and eye-catching, with the appealing colors of the tuna and quail eggs. While the display looked great, the plate lacked love.

Any salad needs to be well tossed with dressing before serving. Drizzling dressing on top only works if you are doing a salad for a 1,000-plate seated banquet. The mixed green leaves with kale at the bottom of the plate were too dry to be consumed alone.

The una tataki was prepared with thin slices of tuna that were slightly seared, raw in the middle, and paired with mango salsa. The quantity of the salsa was not enough for the amount of tuna served, and the fish itself was under-seasoned.

I can count the number of times I have had to send plates back in all my dining experiences, and this was one of them. The second time around, the salad was much better with a beautiful light dressing.

The raclette burger was great. The cheese is a type of Alpine cow’s milk cheese that is melted and spread on top of the burger, paired with tomatoes and onions. The meat’s juiciness and overall flavor were excellent, and the fries on the side were crispy and well-seasoned.

But personally, I would have let the burger rest to avoid the bread getting too soggy and messy while eating.

The risotto was mixed with baby shrimp and topped with chargrilled shrimp: a simple and elegant presentation. Flavor-wise, it was bland. It needed more cheese and seasoning while folding the rice. The plate seemed to sit on the hotline for quite some time before being served. This was evident by the coating that forms from the starch on top of the rice; the butter was separating from the rice mixture. As it was trying to make its way out, so was I at that point.

To end the experience on a good note, I had the lemon meringue tart. The dessert was creamy, citrusy, sweet, crumbly, and delicious in every way you want a dessert to be. It almost made me want to forget the appetizers and main course. Almost.

The service was not particularly refined or proper, either. Ideally, servers have great food and beverage knowledge, which was not the case here. I know because I usually ask very technical questions to assess their knowledge. But most importantly, guests should not have to fight for the attention of any hospitality industry employee due to them being on their phones, mid-shift, in the dining room. 

All in all, if you are in Swefieh Village and are looking for a calm, chic place to have a coffee, drink, or dessert, Brasserie Julie is a great place to go.

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