About

"The reluctant Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fish La Boissonnerie -- Restaurant Review


69 rue de Seine
Paris, France 75006
Tel: 01-43-54-34-69
Hours 12:30PM - 2:30PM, 7:00PM - 12:30AM
Metro: Odeon (4 & 10)


Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)


4 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 2 - Bell



This restaurant has been here a long time. The first time we came here was when we first moved to Paris back in 2008. Since then the interior has been remodeled. So, the interior is a little more spacious. The dining area is on the main floor with large windows. Upstairs are the restrooms as well as the kitchen with a glass partition so you can see them at work.

We were 4-people for dinner and 2 of our friends are pescatarians (fish, no meat nor fowl).  For a Friday night, it was not at all as busy as we had remembered it. This restaurant as its namesake is heavy on seafood, which is perfect for us.

We perused the menu, and they had a nice selection of seafood as well as some meat and fowl dishes.

















AMUSE BOUCHE.  We had a cold cauliflower mousse. In actuality it was more of cold soup, rather than mousse. It was quite refreshing since it was a warm evening. It actually tasted as if it had a little bit of anchovies to flavor the soup, but it wasn't overwhelming or anything.









ENTRÉE

Soupe Broccoli, feta, menthe (Broccoli soup with feta and mint).  This soup was served cold. Perfect for a warm summer evening. Feta can be a very aggressive flavor, but in this simple dish the flavors complimented each other well. The freshness came out, the saltiness from the feta enhanced the soup and the mint added some coolness.

















Asperge bio d’Anjou, condiment fraise, vierge piquillos (Organic asparagus, strawberry condiment, virgin piquillo peppers).  I loved the freshness of this dish. At first bite we thought the little dab of red sauce was a sriracha of some sort, but as we dug into it more we discovered it was actually pureed strawberries with some of the piquillo peppers which gave it a nice bite of heat.  The freshness of the asparagus combined with fresh strawberries and dollops of aged balsamic vinegar was a hit.




Carpaccio de seiche, poireaux grillés, sauce à l'encre. (Carpaccio of cuttlefish, grilled leeks, ink sauce). Two of us had this entrée. This was a dish where thin slices of cuttlefish were wrapped around grilled leeks. Because the plate was black, it was hard to notice that there was actually a sauce of ink squid that the carpaccio sat atop. Don't know if this was done purposely to fool the eyes. The squid ink had that characteristic iron, mineral taste, which went well with the otherwise minimal flavor of raw squid.  Overall, it was a very good dish.










PLATS 


Maigre, pulse de chou-fleur au curry, broccoli, grecque au thym citron. (Meagre white fish, pureed cauliflower with curry, broccoli, Greek lemon & thyme). Two ordered this dish. This fish was perfectly cooked. The skin was crisp and the interior was nice and tender. After-all this restaurant does specialize in seafood, so I expected nothing less. Although the pureed cauliflower did have curry, it was a very mild use of it, which was perfect so as not to distract from the simple flavor of the fish. There were chucks of cauliflower which gave it some texture. A very good dish all around.



Cabillaud, asperges blanches au beurre noisette, pousses d'épinard, citron. (Cod, white asparagus with hazelnut butter, spinach sprouts, lemon). This fish too was cooked perfectly. The cod sat atop fresh spinach and white asparagus. It was a simple dish, but a very good dish.





Agneau de Guillaume, petit pois à la française, sarriette/mélisse (Lamb of Guillaume, French peas, savory / lemon balm). I had to be different, so I ordered the lamb. The lamb was perfectly cooked pink, just how I like it. I got a nice large double piece of the rack of the lamb as well as a saddle. It was accompanied with grilled baby lettuce and sat atop fresh peas that were perfectly cooked, al-dente. And, there was also a pea purée flavored with lemon balm (mint). Wonderful dish.


DESSERTS

Tarte a l'orange façon crème brulée et crème crue. (Orange creme brulée with raw cream. A very simple dessert and the orange flavors did come through. The creme brulée sat atop a wonderful little butter wafer, and the caramelized sugar on top was extremely crunchy, as it should be. The accompanying cream added a nice balance. One thing I liked about this it was not overwhelmingly sweet.







Abricots du Roussillon, mousse coco, sorbet citron/romarin. (Apricots du Roussillon, coconut mousse, lemon / rosemary sorbet). The apricots were slightly poached/candied and although it was sweet, it still retained some of its tartness. The sweetness from the coconut mousse and sorbet counter-balanced the tartness. It was a good dish.




Tarte aux fraises, rhubarbe, sorbet framboise. (Strawberry tart, rhubarb, raspberry sorbet). Jack is a sucker for anything rhubarb, so he ordered this dessert. Although good, this dessert had more strawberries and raspberry flavors than it did rhubarb. The strawberries and few pieces of rhubarb sat atop a cream and a butter pastry round. The raspberry sorbet was surrounded by some crumble.









WINES


I ordered one of their white wines by the carafe (50cl) and Jack ordered an Irouléguy (one of his favorites) from Domaine Arretxea - Organic Wine | Red Tradition. This red cuvée is characterized by tasting notes of cassis, spices,  and pepper.  The restaurant has a very, very extensive wine list.



















SUMMARY

This restaurant is owned by a Miami born Juan Sanchez and New Zealander Drew Harre who also owns and manages Semilla (right across the street), refer to my review Semilla. The chef at the helm is Valentin Vasseur. We were very, very pleased with our meal. As you would expect from a  restaurant that specializes in seafood, the fish dishes were perfectly cooked. The accompanying dishes such as the vegetables and pureed cauliflower made sense, since the star of the dishes was the seafood. The service was EXCELLENT. Although this restaurant is frequented by tourists, it doesn't have the same feeling as a "tourist restaurant or trap". It's a small cozy atmosphere, with good simple food executed well.  We really enjoyed our meal. Since this restaurant is frequented by English speakers the wait staff are all bilingual, and in our case trilingual, since our wait-person also spoke her native Spanish. Would we go back, ABSOLUTELY.

Note: It's also a wine bar. And, after dinner, several people came in just for the wine.

For 4-entrées, 4-plats, 3-desserts, a bottle of wine, and a 50cl carafe of wine, our bill came to 244€ or 61€ a person.
























Friday, June 9, 2017

L'Astrance -- Restaurant Review


4 rue Beethoven, 75016
Tel : + 33 (0)1 40 50 84 40
M° Passy, ligne 6
Opened Tuesday - Friday
Website: http://www.astrancerestaurant.com/?page_id=31

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)


4.50 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 2 - Bell


Today was a special day, since it's our good friends L & PVM's going away luncheon. We were 4 for lunch. So we decided to go somewhere special and we went to one of L's favorite restaurants. This restaurant is a well known 3-star Michelin starred restaurants. This restaurant was conceived by chef extraordinaire Pascal Barbot, opened with his business partner Christophe Rohat. Both have quite the pedigree in the restaurant world.


It's a small, but cozy restaurant. There is a bar and work station as you enter. And tables are nicely spaced so you're not sitting atop of each other. Upstairs there are a few tables. At first glance, I thought the tables upstairs were too close to the ceiling, but our friend L had eaten there and said it doesn't feel that way at all.

As we were seated, after a few minutes we were asked if we'd like some water while we waited for L and PVM. Good sign. No menus at this restaurant, since it is a "tasting menu". L & PVM are regulars at this restaurant, so when they arrived they were warmly greeted by the maitre'd and he remembered that they would be soon leaving Paris.  He then asked how many courses would our table like. We hesitated a little between the 3 or 5. I proposed 3. So, we all went 3. Keep in mind the whole table has to decide so that service timing is perfect. We also had the wine pairing to go along with our courses. And, before we commenced our maitre'd did ask if any of us was allergic to anything...., none proud to say.



The first course was perfectly cooked al-dente string beans with a mayonnaise pepper sauce. It was cooked in the style of edamame where the string beans were cold. But these were edible throughout. Nice start, nothing heavy. It was accompanied with champagne. I had commented that the champagne definitely had notes of apple cider. Champagne are made with pinot noir grapes. PVM said he liked it, but wish it had more yeast. Anyway, a great start.


And, we had another really interesting amuse bouche. It was thin wafers that sandwiched a sweet crunchy apple. I joked that the wafers almost tasted like "communion" wafers to me. They were that thin.






Next course was basil wrapped in a wafer roll that sat atop chopped peanuts. It was to be eaten before we dig into our entrée of wild shrimp. The shrimp were large, so I'm assuming they were tiger prawns. It was flavored with ginger and a sweet and sour sauce, a little bit tangy with some pepper that hit later. I would guess there was some hoisin, but I could be wrong. Overall, it was a delicious entrée and hit all our tasting notes. You can definitely taste the Asian flavors that have influenced Chef Barbot.

The shrimp were paired with a dry smooth white wine from the southwest of France. We all liked the freshness of the wine and it paired well with our entrée.

After this course, we sort of regretted that we didn't have the 5-course luncheon, since it was kind of exciting to see what would come out around the corner next, and the flavors they would have.


Our main dishes came, of course, separately.  First we had the cabillaud (cod). It was served perfectly cooked. Nicely charred on the outside and tender on the inside. As a side we were given leafs of cabbage, the dark base part of the cabbage to the lighter leafs of the top layered alternately. The cabbage may have been slightly blanched, but they were crunchy and a good accompaniment. Interestingly after you bite into it, there was a surprising little kick of heat, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The accompanying sauce was a tamarind sauce and brought a nice element of tart. I mean after all, it's nice to have a little something tart with fish. I was pleasantly surprised he used tamarind, since it's such an southeast Asian ingredient, and it's something I grew up with and very familiar with. Overall a good first plat.

Second plat was a duck breast served with some nut filled cherries, some snow pea pods in a demi-glace sauce. The duck was perfectly cooked. So incredibly tender. It was accompanied with a side of foie gras smeared on toast served in a bowl, which I thought was odd. It would've been easier to eat had it been served on a flat plat. Regardless, it was delicious. With the combination of the duck and foie gras, it was not a light course. However, the stuffed cherries gave it that sour element to offset some of the richness. After having this course, we were glad we didn't order the 5-course tasting menu, because at this point we were getting pretty full.

As for the accompanying wine, we were served a medium white wine with the fish and for the duck we were served a Languedoc, a fruity red wine that paired well with the duck.



The palette cleanser and the desserts. Our maitre'd served the palette cleanser and said to us, after you finish I'll come back and you tell me what you think it was. It tasted very, very eggy. It tasted like some kind of foamed egg atop vanilla ice cream. It was also flavored with lots of ginger, and was very evident with each bite as well as lemongrass. Well I got half right. It was definitely vanilla ice cream, but the foam was made from mashed potatoes, brilliant, absolutely brilliant to fool the palette thinking it was a rich creamy egg foam. L got it right and said she tasted potatoes. The different elements in the cleanser definitely woke up your taste buds.

Next were the desserts. We started with a rhubarb tart with a white chocolate mousse and flavored with jasmine. There were also strawberries and raspberries. This was not a sweet dessert, but definitely a tart dessert, which is characteristic of rhubarb (Jack was in heaven). The idea was you drink the paired Gewurztraminer for the sweetness to counter the tartness of the tart. This particular Gewürztraminer was definitely sweet, a good dessert wine. Overall a great tart.

For our "mignardises" (parting sweets) we had an egg shell filled with cold foamed milk flavored with  jasmine and thyme. Accompanying this were some madeleines as well as a plate of fresh red fruit: cherries, strawberries, and raspberries.  What a great way to end a wonderful meal.


SUMMARY

WOW, I can see why chef Barbot won 3-michelin stars, as well as consistently being ranked the top 20 restaurants in the world by various publications. The service was impeccable. I've been to other Michelin starred restaurants and I have to say, what was nice about this particular restaurant is it didn't seem "stuffy" or pretentious. I now understand why the table has to agree as a whole how many courses they would like, otherwise the service timing would be off. The service was impeccable.

The chef's flavors were definitely influenced by southeast Asia, with the tamarind, lemongrass and sweet/sour chili sauces. He made french cuisine with lighter faire, and not laden with creams and butters. Interestingly, when bread was served, they wanted you to taste different parts of the bread. For example the heels were served first, before they started working inward. It's little touches like this that separate the 3-star Michelins from the rest.

Wine was first served, and then the waiter would come and give a detailed description of the wine. And, the maitre'd even came by and asked for our feedback as to whether we thought the wine paired well with the meal. Who does this? This was a new one for me. And, I loved that they wanted feedback.   Interestingly, it was heavy on the whites, and Jack who does not like white wines was even impressed by the selections.

This is not an inexpensive restaurant. Although they call this the 3-course tasting menu, with the amuse bouche down to the "mignardises", we're talking around 10+ dishes,  2-coffees and 1-tea, our total bill came to 500€ or 125€ per person. When compared to other 3-star Michelin restaurants, this is actually a very good deal. Would we go back, ABSOLUTELY, but I'd have to save my pennies first.







Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fulgurances -- Restaurant Review




Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)


3.75 - Star......................................................€......................................................... 3 - Bell

I'm sure everyone by now has heard of the "Pop-Up Restaurants" concept. Friends had read about this place and recommended we go. The concept is easy. They have stationary restaurant and invite several different chefs to cook for a certain period. For example our Chef was Céline Pham who is slotted from March to September 2017. This is not only to introduce the chef, but also have the chef showcase their food and style.

10, rue Alexandre Dumas 11eme
Tel: 01 43 48 14 59
Opened Tuesday-Friday lunch & Dinner
Metro: Rue des Boulets (9)
Website: http://fulgurances.com/en/

This restaurant sits a little under 40-tables. We had a late lunch reservation, 1:45 pm. As we entered we noticed it was packed. A good sign. When I say they squeeze tables, I'm not exaggerating. The restaurant was so tight, it was actually a little uncomfortable for me, since my chair touched the chair of the person behind me. We sat at a round table for 4, but it was butt up against a wall so we could only occupy 3/4 of the table. In order to facilitate service I had to constantly squeeze forward so the server could squeeze between us. And, mind you. We sat next to the toilette, and if people came by and didn't look where they were going they'd literally hit their head on the stair rail.


The prices for the prix-fixe lunches were extremely reasonably priced. The Chef's background is Vietnamese. The menu reflected her Asian background, but the menu focused more on the Japanese flavors.


ENTRÉE

Tataki de boeuf. Thin slices of beef (carpaccio). One friend ordered this dish. Tataki is a Japanese term that is used to described how meat or fish is served. It can be very quickly seared, but more often it is served raw. This dish was a sweet and sour dish or yin-yang carpaccio. The sour component was the quickly vinegared marinated thin slices of beef and the sweet component was the sweet noodles that the beef sat atop. Hard to do a quick marinate, to prevent the meat from turning gray because of the acidity, but she her knew timing. It was garnished with watercress and carrots . I liked this dish for its tasting contrasts. The sweet balanced the sour.



Haddock. Three of us had the haddock entrée. The dish was flavored with bergamot (citrus fruit similar to a lemon).  I'm  starting to get the impression there's a theme/personality to the chef's food. The chef seems to like vinegary/citrus flavors, which is fine with me. The haddock was salt cured, so if you don't like salt, this is not the dish for you. I happen to like salt, and the potatoes with the creme fraîche counterbalanced the sourness/saltiness. It was also served with sweet cucumbers and yellow summer squash. It its simplicity the dish was citrusy, but balanced with the other ingredients. Flavor wise, I don't think the basil was needed, but it did make for a pretty presentation.


PLATS

Tonkatsu. (breaded deep fried pork cutlet). Two of us, including myself got the last 2-tonkatsus, lucky us.  This dish had a lot of flavors going on. The pork cutlet was cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, the mild curry sauce poured over the cutlet made the tonkatsu lose some of its crunchiness. The dish had sweet potatoes which was a nice counter-balance to the very sour confit de citron (lemon confit). It was garnished with arroche also known as "false spinach" and sweet pea pods. I would've liked the dish a lot more if it didn't have the curry sauce over the the cutlet. It wasn't the flavoring so much as the fact that the tonkatsu lost some of its characteristic crunchiness. I did like this dish because of the differing sauces and vegetables and the contrast and its uniqueness in flavor, but sometimes less is more.


Bonite. (Bonito fish from the tuna family). This was probably my favorite plat. The fish was cooked perfectly, nicely seared on the outside and tender on the inside. It sat atop some sweet black rice with some citrus Asian slaw with cooked radishes. Again, there was a yin-yang of sour components with sweet components.











DESSERT

Tatin de Bananes. (Banana tart).  The group shared this dessert. The tatin was covered with caramelized pecans with a dollop of coconut ice cream. The dessert almost looked like a pecan pie. I tasted a little of it, and it was good, but I happen to like flaky crust, but this was a softer crust. But overall a very good dessert which wasn't overly sweet.









WINE


Côt à Côt, Noella Morantin. We originally ordered a cabarnet franc red wine, but apparently they were out of it and the server brought a similar bottle suggesting that it had the same 'spirit'; a malbec. We accepted. This wine is characterized has having notes of red fruits, cocoa, cinnamon, and prune. It was very good and went well with our meals.














SUMMARY

I love pop-ups and pop up restaurants. They introduce us to new chefs or chefs wanting to introduce new food flavors/experiences. Keep one thing in mind when you come to this restaurant, you're NOT coming for the ambience, you're coming solely for the food. It's a tight squeeze, and it's very noisy. This particular restaurant usually changes chefs on an average of every 3-months. However, chef Céline Pham will be featured through September 2017. Just like fashion, there's a certain style/flavor that identifies a chef. I'm pretty sure I could identify her cooking style if I were to be blindfolded. Her flavors are definitely Asian inspired, bold and wasn't masked with all the heavy creams or butter as most classical french dishes. The only cream I noticed was the dollop of creme fraîche in the haddock entrée. I rated higher than I would normally because it is a pop-up, so the food is the featured star, and not the ambience. Would we go back before chef Céline is finishes her term, absolutely.

With three 2-course prix-fixe, One 3-course prix-fixe and a bottle of wine, our bill came to 115€ or 58€ a couple. The price can't be beat!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Divellec -- Restaurant Review


18, rue Fabert 75007
Tel: 01 45 51 91 96
Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner
Website: http://www.divellec-paris.fr/en/
Metro Invalide (8 & 13)
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)


1.75 - Star......................................................€€€......................................................... 3 - Bell


A friend J had recommended we go to this restaurant. It's a stone's throw away from "Les Invalides".  He had been here a few times in the past 40-years when it was still owned by M.Divellect himself. In September 2016, it was bought by Michelin starred Chef Michel Pacaud who happens to be the son of famed chef Bernard Pacaud. He has restaurants around the world and these are the ones that garnered michelin stars: L’ambroisie (3-stars), Hexagone (1-star), and Histoires (2-stars).  He is the first French chef to have obtained three Michelin stars in a row. So, he's got quite the pedigree and rightfully so our expectations were quite high.



The restaurant is quite large. It takes up a corner of half the block. It's quite airy and open. We were seated on the extreme end across from the park.   I guess for lunch time they squeeze all the patrons on that end to make service easier, understandable. We sat in a semi-booth, unfortunately we sat next to some very loud people. As we walked in, the very first thing I noticed was that english was spoken everywhere. Not a good sign.



WARNING: this restaurant is VERY expensive. 

As we perused the menu, there were a few prix-fixes. 49€ for 3-courses, 90€ for 4-courses and 210€ for 7-courses.

J and I selected 3-courses prix-fixe since neither one of us are big eaters. And, Jack decided to order a-la-carte, because the prix-fixe did not excite him.

Note: this restaurant specializes in seafood.

A-la-carte Menu




Amuse bouche was a small spreadable seafood paté. Our wait person said it was sardines, but it was definitely tuna. It was served with very thinly sliced toasted baguettes. This was nothing special. Anyone with basic cooking skills could've made this. 















ENTRÉE

Œuf mollet, velouté de céleri à la badiane. (Poached egg, velvety celery with star-anise). The dish was pretty enough, but looks can be deceiving. I have one description for this dish, BLAND. Cold dishes normally need to have a heavy hand with spices, but it was so under seasoned that we had to ask for salt/pepper. Interestingly, unrequested our wait-person also gave us some olive oil, hmmm? what does that tell you? Only flavor came from the smoked eel bits. And, the only saving grace for this dish was the poached egg. It was perfectly cooked. This dish should either be improved upon or just plain removed from the menu.



Coques-couteaux, marinère aux épines vinettes (Razor clams with marinière of "berberis" sauce).  Jack ordered this dish. Normally the clam is quite long, but they were sliced into small round disks and placed back into what looked the original shell. It was served with some greens and tomatoes. The dish was good, the clams were cooked perfectly and although I did not taste the star anise, it did have a nice citrusy flavor, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.



PLATS

Merlu de ligne, fenouils, pommes de terre confites de Noirmoutier et sauce bouillabaisse. (Hake, fennel, candied potatoes of Noirmoutier and sauce bouillabaisse). Beautifully presented. Ah, nice change. There was actually some flavor in this dish. The bouillabaisse was rich and tasty. The potatoes were tasty and cooked in the style of Noirmoutier, an island off of France. Now keep in mind the star of this dish is the hake, one word, OVERCOOKED. How does a restaurant who specializes in seafood overcook their fish? Whoever cooked this fish needs to go back to "cooking fish 101."




Bar, enroulée de poivrons doux, extraction d’une sauce piperade. (Sea bass, coiled sweet peppers, extraction of a "piperade" sauce). Fortunately, this time the fish was cooked much better. Moist and tender. It was topped with pureed red peppers and the sauce, although had espelette (basque spicy red pepper), lacked flavor. It was an underwhelming dish for 55€.  It came with a side dish of chopped zucchini.


DESSERTS

J had the strawberry dessert that comes with the prixe-fixe and Jack had the raspberry dessert. The desserts were good. In fact, I think this was the only thing the guys liked on the menu. But, as Jack said, you could get this at any café/bistro and even at some of our local patisserie. Although good, they were nothing special.










I asked, since I don't eat sugar, could they replace the sweet dessert for cheese. They obliged. Unbeknownst to me until I got the bill, they charged me an extra 18€ for the privilege. I had the cheese plate, and I have to say this was the redemption dish. But, like I always say, you can't go wrong with cheese in France. After-all they are the experts. From my recollection I had the chèvre, brebis, tomme de savoie, camembert, young chèvre and believe a slightly aged cow cheese. I finished them all. Surprisingly enough though, I had eaten half a piece of baguette, so the wait-person left it for me to eat with the cheese. I assumed he'd come back with more bread. Never did, nor did he ask if I wanted more. Fortunately, I don't eat much bread.


WINES 

Jean-luc Colombo 2015 Les Collines de Laure.  A white wine where the Provençal grape Rolle (aka Vermentino) is used. Characterized with having fresh citrus acidity and peach, orchard fruit and herb notes. Excellent wine.

Les Augstins, Les Bambins, pic saint loup. A red languedoc. Jack originally ordered something else, but our sommelier suggested we try this wine, which was only 5€ more than the original Jack requested. We were happy we took his advise. This was a great red wine.  This red wine had a slightly oak taste with hints of black fruits. Excellent choice. I do want to add that our sommelier know his "stuff." 


MIGNARDISES (PARTING SWEETS) -- I would expect with this type of expensive restaurant, we would have some. So, none to report. 


SUMMARY 

One word describes this restaurant well, UNDERWHELMED, second word EXPENSIVE. It was so unmemorable, I actually had a hard time recalling what we had, and we just had our meal yesterday? The entrées were just "meh"? But what shocked me the most was the overcooked hake. Keep in mind this restaurant's specialty is seafood.  From underwhelmed, under seasoned, and an overcooked plat, the only redeeming dish for me was the cheese and the wines, which neither is made by the restaurant. As for the service, it seemed rushed. In fact, one server wanted to clear the plates before one of us even finished? I understand that the Chef has restaurants all over the world and has won several Michelin stars for OTHER restaurants, but he really should focus some attention on this restaurant. It is an overly priced tourist trap. Would we go back? ABSOLUTELY NOT. We'll leave it for the tourist. 

For 2 prix-fixe meals (3-courses), 1 a-la carte (3-courses), 2-bottles of wine, 2-glasses of additional wine, 1-coffee, 1-tea our insult to injury came to 353€ ($395) for 3-people, 118€ ($132) per person. I took price into consideration for my overall review. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Le Vent d'Armor -- Restaurant Review



25 Quai de la Tournelle 75005
tel: 33 1-46-34-50-99
'Open: Monday night 19:30, Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner
Website: http://www.le-vent-darmor.com/
Metro: 4 (Cité), 1 (Hôtel de Ville)


Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)


4 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2.5 - Bell


This restaurant has been open for about 15-months. Interestingly, it's across the pont (bridge) from the Ile St. Louis where my good friends live and who recommended we try this restaurant. But for whatever reason this restaurant has been under my radar. So, we made it a point to go and check it out. Plus it's in a great location, easy to walk to, and the walk along the Seine is always beautiful.


The interior is quite lovely, very simple and modern, and also very comfortable. It's a small restaurant, maybe around 20-tables. I was a bit surprised that the restaurant wasn't more busy for a Friday night, but that was OK for us.


As I ordered a started sipping my kir, we perused the menu. There was a tasting menu for 60€, but we all thought that would've been too much food for us.

You'll notice something about this menu, it's 95% seafood. They specialize in seafood. So, off the bat, I need to warn my readers if you don't eat seafood or allergic to it, this is not the place for you.










AMUSE BOUCHE.


For our amuse bouche we got a small croquette of monkfish. It was served with an herbed pesto. JJ thought it was just a tad salty, whereas I thought there wasn't enough salt. It was well fried, not greasy at all. I could've had the pesto a little more spicy peppery, but hey, we're in France, they don't do spicy.









ENTRÉES


Huîtres spéciales n*4 — Marennes Oléron -- (Oysters on a half-shell). Although oysters are not in season, JJ, who ordered them, thought they were delicious, fresh and very juicy, and not gritty as they are normally known to be during the off-season.














Soupe de Poisson du Chef, Rouille et croûtons (Fish soup with croutons and cheese).  Our friend R ordered this dish, and he said it was excellent. The added garnishes of croutons and cheese was served on the side, so you can add them as you wish. R added the cheese and after it melted it looked like French onion soup. Overall, he thought it was a very good dish.














Thon minute, sésame, piment d’Espelette (Tuna cooked for 1-minute, with sesame, espelette peppers). Originally I had wanted to order the crispy shrimp, but I misheard the waiter earlier when he told us that was the one dish they didn't have. But I wasn't disappointed. The tuna was perfectly seared, just the way I like it. I like the "ying-yang" combination of the outside cooked with the interior a sashimi texture. The espelette sauce could've been spicier, but like I said, this is France. It was served with accompanying lettuce greens with a light vinaigrette sauce.





PLATS


 Médaillon de lotte œufs de Harengs fumés, crémé d’échalotes (Medallions of Monkfish with Smoked herring eggs, and cream of shallots).  JJ ordered this dish and said the fish was very, very fresh. As characteristic of a monkfish, it is very meaty. Monkfish can be overcooked which would make it rubbery, but he said this dish was cooked perfectly tender.

















La Sole grillée, sauce champagne (Sole grilled with champagne sauce).  R ordered this dish, and he said it was excellent. The fish was also fresh and cooked perfectly. He had a nice variety of green beans with carrots and a squash.









Cassolette de langoustines aux truffes (a dish of langoustines and truffles).  I ordered this dish. For some reason I had read cassolette as cassoulet, a traditional dish with white beans as the base. But I was wrong. It was more like a creamy bouillabaisse soup base. The langoustines were perfectly cooked and the accompanying sauce was delicious. And, for you truffle lovers out there, there was a nice healthy serving of garnished black truffles. Simple, but tasty. Note: it did come with potatoes, and vegetables.




CHEESE COURSE

I of course had the cheese plate. This plate had a nice salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. It included "tomme de savoie" which is a semi-firm cow's milk cheese, and mild in flavor. Actually, it's one of my favorite cheeses, so lucky me. And "chèvre" cheese, a goat milk cheese. I'm not a big fan of goat milk cheese, since I liked harder more aged cheeses, but for you lovers of chèvre, it was very good.  








DESSERTS:



Gratin de pamplemousse Rose et son sabayon grand marnier (Pink Grapefruit Gratin in sabayon) and Assortiment de glaces et sorbets (maître glaces) (3 scoops of ice creams and sorbets (master ice cream). JJ ordered the grapefruit, it consisted of sliced fresh pink grapefruit served on a hot plate with sabayon sauce. It was good in its simplicity.

R ordered 2-scoops of chocolate ice cream and 1-vanilla. Delicious ice cream, but nothing out of the ordinary for France.








WINES





We ordered a bottle of Chinon Marc Brédif 2013.  It's a red wine of cabernet franc, known to have a classic red wine taste. There's a tartness underneath a layer of fruit flavors. Alcohol level is not as high as well.













MIGNARDISES (PARTING SWEETS)


We were given a selection of caramelized nuts. A brown sugar marshmallow and some meringues.



















SUMMARY

You have to like seafood to come to this restaurant, that is what they specialize in. In fact, there was only 1-dish that was not a fish dish, but a duck dish and only served as a plat. One important note, all the seafood was of high quality and very fresh. It's a small cozy restaurant, but in a great location. It's next door to a rotisserie place we frequent, as well as across the street from the famous "Tour d'Argent" which we don't frequent, and across from "Notre Dame".  The waiter and his helper could not have been nicer and more efficient. Would we come back, ABSOLUTELY.

With 1-kir, 3-entrees, 3-plats, 1-cheese plate, 2-desserts, 1-bottle of wine, and 2 glasses of a Sancerre white, our bill came to 259€ or 86.33€ per person. So, this is not an inexpensive restaurant, but well worth going to.