Patti Bess
Special to The Union

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January 19, 2011
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Simple, delicious cuisine at the Classic

It was a dark and stormy night. Oops! That's been done before.

It was a dreary Friday. It had been raining all week, and I'd finished my library books. Cabin fever was about to engulf us. My husband, David, and I invited a friend to share in our boredom, and the three of us strolled down Broad Street.

Suddenly we were accosted by a musician coming out of a small cafe. Hey, what is this? North Beach? Paris? We stepped inside. The cafe was redolent of garlic and butter. The tables were full and people were singing along with the musicians. We were immediately transported to a boisterous, vibrant Paris bistro - just what we needed to lift our spirits!

The menu at the Classic Cafe is quite simple and affordable. Crepes or quiche and salad, and French fries that are perfectly crisped as only the French can do are a few choices. The bouillabaisse is to-die-for with a cream base instead of tomato. There are several delicious dessert crepe options also.

Beaucoup Chapeaux plays European cafe music every Friday. The band consists of Maggie McKaig who is wild on an accordion, Luke Wilson playing tenor guitar, Murray Campbell on violin, and Randy McKean on clarinet.

Seven years ago Kirk Valentine and Genevieve Crouzet bought Moore's Cafe which had been in business on Broad Street for many years. Their plan was to open a bakery and had made arrangements with a French baker to bring his family over, but the baker and his wife decided they wanted to raise their family in France, not California. Kirk and Genevieve now owned a restaurant without a plan.

They kept it as the classic American cafe that it was, but began adding their own French influence - lunches and all-day American breakfasts with a fabulous French crepe. Their cook, Alphonso, worked at Moore's and continues to be the foundation of their kitchen today. Two years ago Genevieve had the idea of turning the cafe into a classic French bistro on Friday nights and the place has been jumpin' ever since.

Growing up in France, Genevieve earned a degree in biology and physiology. She was a dancer in Paris, but always dreamed of moving to San Francisco. Then in the 80s she did indeed move there and studied massage. Shortly after that she met and married Kirk Valentine.

Kirk began his career(s) as an aerospace engineer and worked on the Gemini and Apollo projects. When the money for space exploration dried up, aerospace wasn't as mentally stimulating and the financial stresses of the industry were not fun. Kirk moved on and found himself as the owner of a sail boat company. Here he also got to dabble in another of his creative passions - food. He helped to establish a restaurant at the facility for their sailing club in Pt. Richmond.

When their son was born, Genevieve and Kirk wanted to move out of the Bay Area. Nevada City was the place.

The restaurant continues to be fun for both Genevieve and Kirk, and it shows. Their goal is to offer a good value for your money (and a raucous crowd too). The employees also help them to spend more time with their son, Sean.

Nevada City Classic Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., seven days a week. The bistro is open Friday nights from 6 to 9 p.m.

Patti Bess is a local freelance writer, cookbook author and a radio host on KVMR-FM. E-mail her with questions or for more information at

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The Union Updated Jan 19, 2011 02:10PM Published Jan 19, 2011 02:05PM Copyright 2011 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.