To celebrate the lack of fatal accidents involving myself from November 2009 to November 2010 my kids decided to take me out to eat for a late lunch. Having just spent the last week slaving over Cassoulet and still craving French food I perused the menus of Place Pigalle, Cafe Campagne, Restaurant Campagne and Maximilien in the Pikes Place Market in downtown Seattle. In Paris I choose my restaurants on how serious they are about that little bird that everyone loves - the Duck. If a restaurant lists at least two of the three holy duck dishes (Foie Grois, Confit de Canard, Magret de Canard) then it's worthy of consideration. It seems however, that in Seattle if a restaurant possesses at least ONE of the three they're considered French but being in the northwest and a long way from France they can fill up the rest of the menu with Asian Fusion dishes or seafood. If a Seattle French restaurant prepares two of the three holy duck dishes they're exceptional and so far I've not found one establishment that will make all three. They will have either Foie Gras and Magret or Magret and Confit or Foie Gras and Confit but never all three.

I've looked at the Maximelien menu a million times and even though their lunch menu had only one of the three (dinner has two) they also had escargot so we entered through the heavy wooden doors to our little French sanctuary amongst the hustle and bustle of the market. As soon as that door shuts the market goes silent and you find yourself in a small 10-12 table restaurant fitted in supple dark woods with a staircase bending it's way to a second floor. The second floor stops about 2 feet from the outer wall leaving an air gap connecting upper and lower floors which lends to making the place feel a bit larger overall. The walls are covered with mirrors presumably to add to this effect. From the outside Maximilien always seemed bigger and I was very surprised to find it this small.

The host had a very strong but not very familiar French accent. I didn't get around to asking him where he was from. The server smiled to the point where I thought she was going to explode but always provided us prompt service and kept refilling our bread basket. Magret de Canard wasn't on the lunch menu so I had Confit de Canard and an escargot appetizer. The escargot was the best we've had in the states so far and the table bread was perfect for soaking up the butter and parsley in the escargot plate (no they didn't serve them in the shells).

The Confit was OK but you'd be hard pressed to tell it from a turkey leg. I'm not a huge Confit de Canard fan so I've not eaten it very many times but it was still good and the duck fat that was attached was nice. The sliced potato rounds tasted like they were fried in duck fat as they had a nice crispy texture and the flavor was good. Both the potatoes and the Confit were served over a bed of lentils (God knows why). I'm not sure why you'd mix up food with lentils and even more perplexed as to why you'd serve both on the same plate. I personally prefer my food to change color and p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } consistency during the digestive process.

Overall it wasn't a bad experience but we didn't have any OMG! moments either. The environment was quaint, the music decent (you can listen to what's playing in the restaurant right now by going to their RSS feed - neat. I'd like to come back for dinner and try their other dishes before I do a full review of Maximelien.