"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)!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Le Petit Varenne -- Restaurant Review

 57, rue de Bellechasse, 7eme
Closed: Sundays and Mondays
Metro: Rue du Bac (12)

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......................................................€€......................................................... 3 - Bell

At a recommendation of our friend J we went to a relatively new restaurant opened by Jean-Baptiste Varenne who seems to be the quite the entrepreneur, opening 3-other restaurants in Paris (Laiterie Sainte Clotilde, Chez Graff and Gare aux Gorilles) with some business partners. This restaurant is located across the street from the office of the prime minister, so don't be alarmed when you see several armed military around the premises.

 57, rue de Bellechasse

The interior is nothing special. In fact very stark with just tables and chairs. No ambiance to speak of. It is a small restaurant, hence it can get quite noisy, but what's nice were the large windows which brought in lots of light and made the restaurant appear larger. As we entered the restaurant for lunch at about 12:45 pm, there was only 1-other table that was occupied, but that changed quickly. It appears the lunch crowd is later and they start trickling in after 1 pm. There were no prix-fixe menus, everything was a la carte. The Chef de cuisine is  Rémy N’Guyen of Prince de Galles and Burgundy.


Gnocchi, champignons et emulsion au parmesan (Gnocchi, mushrooms and parmesan emulsion). We really enjoyed this particular entrée. Gnocchi can be very heavy and sometimes even "gummy", but these were very light and almost had an airy quality about them. The accompanying mushrooms were a great addition to give the dish an earthy component. As many know, I'm not a fan of emulsions, but this parmesan emulsion was extremely flavorful, light. And, topped with a parmesan wafer, it gave the dish a nice crispy textural component. An excellent composed dish.

Terrine de boudin noir (black pudding terrine). I was expecting it to be a traditional sausage, but then I re-read the description and it is a terrine versus a sausage, which the latter is more typical. It was served in pie slices. Blood sausages are very common in France, but this did not have that "irony" flavor. It was actually quite tasty accompanied with the sweet sauces from the apples as well as the beets. Also, a very good composed entrée.


Poire de boeuf, pommes grenailles et échalotes confites (Pear beef, new potatoes and candied shallots). "Poire of the beef" is reputed to be one of the most flavorful and tender parts of the beef. It's actually the inner thigh of the beef, so less muscular. I was in the mood for a good steak, and this did not disappoint. The meat was succulent, tender, and delicious. This was probably one of the best steaks I've had in a long time. I thought the potatoes were perfectly cooked, crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. I wasn't a fan of the shallots, it had a bitter aftertaste, but I'll overlook that since the steak was so good. It was topped with some leafy greens tossed lightly in vinegar and added to the overall flavors of the dish.

Merlu poche, tombée d’épinard et emulsion au cresson (Hake, spinach and watercress emulsion). It wasn't a pretty dish, since the fish looked like it was buried under all that foam, or should I say emulsion, but the fish was moist, very tasty and with the accompanying spinach and watercress was a nice addition. And, surprisingly all that emulsion actually had quite a nice flavor profile.  The citrus atop the fish completed it.

Canard de Rouen et caviar d’aubergine (Rouen duck and eggplant caviar).  Although this plat was delicious, this was probably my least favorite. And, this had nothing to do with flavor profiles, more so for personal preference. Our friend J asked for the duck to be cooked very rare, and very rare it came out. I just found it to be too rubbery. I'm confident though, had the duck been medium or even medium rare, based on the other two dishes, it would've been perfect. The accompanying eggplant caviar and carrots was a nice accompaniment.


Chocolat, orange confite et noisettes grillées. Glaces artisanaux (Chocolat, orange confite and roasted nuts.  Artisanal ice cream .

The first dessert, the chocolate with orange and roasted nuts was a bit overwhelming sweet for me. But then again I don't normally eat sugar, and I just had a taste of it. It tasted like a whipped ganache topped with nuts. It was a good dessert and it would definitely be a chocolate lovers dream, but not for me.

The second dessert was less sweet. They were artisanal ice creams. The pistachio was my favorite. The two ice-creams complimented each other and it sat atop crumbled butter cookies and nuts. Very simple, but refreshing.

WINES:  We had a bottle of Clos de l’Amanaie Langedoc and a bottle of D’auphilac Lou maset Languedoc.  Both wines were from the Languedoc region of France. The white was light and crisp and citrus notes, whereas the red was lighter and fruitier.


Jean-Baptise Varenne (proprietor)
What a great find in the 7eme. It's not a pretty restaurant, very stark in decoration, and no ambiance to speak of,  but who needs decoration when the food is the star attraction. You don't see many tourists in this area of Paris primarily since it's across from the Office of the Ministry. and there aren't that many shops or attractions nearby. And, from what I gathered from the lunch crowd, its clientele was very officious. So, I assume they were government employees.  The owner Jean-Baptise chatted with us a little bit, and he actually had read many of J's restaurant reviews. He interacted with several of his clients as well, which to me is always a good sign.

Onto the food, as I said, the food was the star. The food overall was excellent. My favorite entrée was the gnocchi, and my favorite main was the steak. By far, one of the best steaks I've had in Paris.  You definitely don't come here for the ambiance. Would we come back? ABSOLUTELY!

For 3-entrées, 3-plats, 2-desserts, 2-bottles of wine and 1-coffee our meal came to 186€ for 3-people or 62€ per person.

NOTE: the wines were bit on the pricey side, so brought our overall costs higher; however, the prices of the meals themselves are quite reasonable with average entrée 10-12€ range and the mains in the mid-20€ range.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Restaurant AG Les Halles -- Restaurant Review

14 Rue Mondétour, 75001
Phone: 01 42 61 37 17
Metro: Les Halles ( 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14)
Closed Sundays

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

If the restaurant name sounds familiar, well it is. This is actually the 2nd restaurant of Chef Alan Geaam.  The original "AG" restaurant is in the 6eme.  When the first "AG" opened in the 6eme, I was absolutely in love with it. Unfortunately, it became inconsistent with both the food and the service and became overrun by tourists, so I stopped going. So, we decided to come to the "other" restaurant in Les Halles and test the waters, so to speak.

The interior of the restaurant couldn't be any more different than the other restaurant. By Parisian standards, it's quite large. Very roomy and very "airy". And, what caught my eye was the very large bar, which serves "cocktails".  I'm finding more and more "cocktail bars" in larger Parisian restaurants. We were given an English menu, but my friend asked for a French menu. I compared the translation, and it was close, but still a little off. Normally, I prefer French menus for this reason. As an aside at another restaurant, I remember once "breast of duck" was erroneously translated to "breath of duck".

We were given some sweet rolls that appeared to have been slightly smoked over hay. The rolls tasted almost as if they were steamed, because they were very, very moist.  It  was accompanied with several spices and flavored oils, since on its own the rolls were un-flavored, with the accompanying spices and oils, it was a nice introduction to what might follow. 

For our amuse bouche we had a very tasty smoked duck broth that was foamed. Despite the the size, it was punched with a lot of flavor, and I must say surprisingly very light. 

Accompanying it was some rice wafers with hazelnuts. 

Overall, an excellent composed amuse bouche!


Chicken oysters with seasonal mushrooms, chestnut and coffee. What an interesting entrée with the different flavor profiles. Yet combined, it was a scrumptious entrée. It is reputed that the oyster part of the chicken is the most flavorful. And, this was a great example of profiling the flavor of the chicken oysters. Americans usually use coffee to enhance steak seasoning, BBQs or chili, but the coffee was slightly incorporated in the chicken to enhance the flavor, but not overwhelm it. Another excellent well composed dish.

Duck foie gras with bonito broth and granny smith poutarge (salted fish roe).  At first glance, you think, what a weird flavor combination. But I have to say, after tasting it, I became a believer.  Mixing brininess of the bonito and fish roe brought this dish to a whole new level. Who knew?  The foie gras itself, was cooked to perfection. And, although you would think the broth and roe would be overwhelming, not at all, it complimented the dish well.

63C egg with pumpkin, black truffle and hazelnut.  All the entrées were delicious, but this had to be my favorite. I was expecting this dish to be somewhat bland, since in essence, pumpkin doesn't have a strong characteristic flavor and many cooks have to add spices to give some character. As you cut into the soft luscious eggs and blended it with the pumpkin, it was a pure delight sensation in the mouth. I normally don't like truffles, but the truffles along with the hazelnuts were simply delicious, and the coddled egg made the dish. However, I wasn't fond of the kumquats used to garnish the dish, but that's a personal preference.


Hake fillet, black rice telline (shell fish) spinach and pickles.  When it was first presented, my first impression was, wow, what a beautifully composed dish. The picture doesn't do it justice, but the purples, with the greens and black, just made the dish pop.  The fish was perfectly cooked with a nice exterior crust and the rice was wonderfully flavored. The purple broccoli wasn't overcooked, it still retained a nice crunch. Overall, an excellent delicious dish.

Pig jowls with butternut, kumquat and spaghetti of fried potatoes. All the dishes previously presented were beautiful, and well composed. This particular plating, I thought was odd. Some friends thought it artistic, but I thought there was just too much empty real estate, sort of "lop-sided".

Reputed to be the most flavorful part of the pig, jowls was the main attraction of this dish. And, they did not disappoint. Despite the weird plating, I thought the meat was delicious, very flavorful. There were chunks of fat, which is to be expected, but it was the fat that kept the meat moist. Although tasty, the shoe string fried onion rings was a bit odd for me, because they were really, really long strands. But overall, it was an excellent, flavorful dish.


We decided to order a cheese plate to be shared amongst the 4 of us. They had quite the selection of cheeses. We opted for 2-blue cheeses, one comte and a brie. As I always say, you can't go wrong with cheese in France.

For our wine, we had "Thierry Germain dom roche neuve l'insolite blanc saumur" from the Loire valley. It's reported to be one of the best 10 wines in the region.  Although I did like the wine, I found it very crisp with sour notes. Good, but not one of my favs.


Since I've been to Chef Geaam's restaurant in the 6eme, I was expecting the plating to be wonderful, with the exception of one of the main dishes, he did not disappoint, overall the food was beautifully presented. What's more important are the flavors. All the dishes were excellent. Combinations that you would not normally think would compliment each other did, e.g., bonita broth with foie gras. My favorite entrée was the pumpkin with the black truffles. And, as far as flavors were concerned, the pork was my favorite plat. This is the type of cuisine I remembered the AG in the 6eme served when it first opened up. The service was excellent as well. Would I return"? MOST DEFINITELY.

With 4-entrées, 4-plats, a bottle of wine, 3-glasses of additional wine, and a cheese plate, our meal came to 189€ or 47.25€ a person, which is extremely reasonable. We were also provided with a digestif, which tasted like vodka with a little flavoring.

The talented Chef de cuisine and published cookbook author, Alan Geaam

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cézembre -- Restaurant Review

17 Rue Gregoire de Tours,
75006 Paris
tel: +33 9 67 57 25 08
Metro: Odeon (line 4)
(check website for operating hours)
Website: http://www.cezembrerestaurant.com/en/
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+)

4.25- Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2 - Bell

It's been a while since I've done a review, because I've been traveling. As soon as we hit town, a good friend recommended this restaurant, so off we went running. It's in the 6eme (Saint Germain de Près).

It's on a side street and it's a relatively small restaurants. It's a long restaurant with tables located on both sides. Let's say a very intimate restaurant.

The Chef de Cuisine is Anthony Hamon who hails from Brittany and Cézembre is actually a small uninhabited island off St Malo.  Although the menu changes daily, his influence comes from Breton and superbly sourced and served.

The menu changes daily. I like that. There basically is not an a la carte menu. However, the waiter did say that if we were allergic to anything, to let him know and they could alter the menu for us. However, you did have a choice of either a fish dish or a chicken dish for your main.

I asked if I could replace a cheese plate for the sugary dessert, unfortunately, they did not have a cheese plate so I chose to forgo dessert.

Although they did not have an a la carte menu per se, the Chef does offer a 6-course tasting menu for 45€ which we all agreed would just be too much food for us.

SCALLOPS:  The scallops was our entrée. It was small dish, but punched with a lot of different strong flavors but not overwhelming. There were what I believed was a creamy herbal sauce. We overwhelmingly loved this tasty dish.

COD:  We all opted for the cod as our plat (main). This fish was perfectly cooked. and the accompanying sauces was a nice touch to the dish.  The dish was accompanied with mushrooms, carrots and cut string beans. What I liked about the dish all the components complimented each other, and the beans were cooked al-dente, which I loved.  The bed of risotto it sat on was also extremely delicious, again cooked to perfection, al-dente, and although I'm not a fan of foam, this was light and actually made the dish cohesive.

PEACH: I must confess I did have a little taste of the dessert. It was extremely light. A peach encased in a sorbet with a light foamed cream. Everyone loved the dish, because it was not only refreshing, not overly sweet, and light.

WINES: We ordered a bottle of  "Thierry Germain, Domaine des roches Neuves, Saumur Champigny". We debated whether we should get a white or red. Since some in the group don't drink white the waiter recommended this wine with our fish. It's a 100% Cabernet franc and goes well with seafood because it smells of red and black fruit. Light with a nice after sensation.


What a hidden gem in the 6eme, otherwise known as the "Saint Germain de Près" area of Paris, a more upscale neighborhood without the upscale prices as reflected in this restaurant. The prix-fixe for 2-courses is 24€, and for 3-courses 28€. There was absolutely no pretensions about this restaurant. It was simple, straight forward delicious food beautifully presented and packed full of flavors. I did read some reviews from Americans wherein they thought the portions were too small; I thought they were perfect, but then again I am not a big eater. I did notice that every single one of us sopped up the delicious sauces with our bread, that's always a good sign.

The menu does change regularly depending on what's seasonal. The waiter was extremely efficient, and he spoke perfect English, he took time to explain each dish and the nuances of the wines in both languages.  Would we go back? ABSOLUTELY. Go before people discover this gem.

For three 3-courses, one 2-courses, a bottle of wine, a glass of white wine and bottle water our bill came to 155€ for 4-people.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Le Mesturet -- Restaurant Review

77, rue de Richelieu 75002
Open for lunch and dinner 7/7
Tél. 01 42 97 40 68 
E-mail: contact@lemesturet.com
website: http://www.lemesturet.com/
Metro: Bourse

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......................................................€€......................................................... 4 - Bell

I was looking for a restaurant close to a hotel by the L'Opéra where a family member was staying. I chose this restaurant randomly and knew very little about it, other than what I read online and the reviews looked favorable.  It's very close to one of my favorite tapas restaurants "A.Noste"

It was a Friday night, and it was pretty well packed in. A lot of tourist and some locals sprinkled around, common in this part of town. They certainly knew how to squeeze a lot of people in the restaurant. It was quite noisy and warm inside. We perused the menu and it had very traditional French classic dishes. They had a prix-fixe menu, 2-courses for 26€ and 3-courses for 31.50€, very, very reasonable.


Aubergine grillée à la tomate et chèvre frais de chez Lethielleux. (Grilled eggplant with tomato and fresh goat cheese).  This was my favorite entrée of the evening. A very simple grilled eggplant with the right mixtures of sweet, salty and sour and some melted goat cheese. A simple good dish, but nothing out of the ordinary.  It was under-seasoned but had a very nice dressing.

Terrine de Couchon. (Pork terrine).  I don't think I've had a more greasy and gristly terrine since moving to Paris. It was not good. First bite I took was an edible piece of cartilage. Second bite I took was the rubbery inedible part of the skin. To add insult to injury the greasy terrine left a greasy film on my palate.  The only redeeming quality of this dish was the accompanying sour salsa, I suppose to cut the greasiness.  And, the sprinkling of cayenne or espellette, I suppose to mask the blandness of the terrine. Definitely a bad choice.


Blanquette de veau à l’ancienne, riz pilaf et petits oignons. (Veal stew cooked in the old style, pilaf rice and onions).  This is an old style traditional French dish. Although overall an average dish, the dish was overwhelmingly under-seasoned. I couldn't stop salting and sprinkling pepper on the dish to give it some flavor. They also had some dijon mustard on the table, and I added that too. With the addition, it was more to my liking, but overall just an average nothing dish. I now know why they had salt and pepper and mustard on the table.

Tête de veau roulée sur la langue, sauce gribiche , légumes vapeur.  (Calf's head accompanied with a typical gribiche sauce and steamed vegetables).  Another classic French dish. It was an average good dish, but it's not a WOW dish.  This dish was once again extremely under seasoned and needed salt and pepper.  And as with so many French dishes, the vegetable were just for color (eg 2 string beans and 3 small carrot bits) and not for accompaniment. 

Filet mignon.  This was best dish of all the three. The filet was cooked perfectly (medium rare) and accompanied by a terrine of potato and zucchini. Aha, this dish was actually seasoned well. The sauce actually had some flavor. It was a rich demi-glace. And, the side dish was a nice accompaniment. Overall a good dish, but nothing out of the ordinary.


Charlotte et café gourmand.  A charlotte is a type of trifle or "french tiramisu". As typical of a charlotte, this was encased in a sponge cake. The trifle in this case was flavored with raspberry. Although good it was nothing out of the ordinary.

The café gourmand had a chocolate fondant cake, a chocolate mousse and a sweet buttery cake. Although it didn't look real pretty, they were all quite good and tasty, but again nothing out of the ordinary.


The restaurant is in a great location, close to L'Opera and "Little Tokyo" (Rue Saint-Anne area). The restaurant is small, but very well packed in. The menu features classical French dishes. The grilled eggplant was good, the filet mignon was good and the desserts were good. The veal dishes were extremely under-seasoned, and my pork terrine was pretty disgusting.  On the other-hand the service was excellent. What I found interesting is they kept changing our carafe of water every few minutes or so to insure we had chilled water.  The maitre'd and our wait-person were extremely efficient and warm and inviting. It was a Friday night, but I found the noise level extremely bad. It truly was difficult to carry on a conversation.

Overall, we found the food just so underwhelming. Would we go back, probably not. For 3-people we had 3-entrées, 3-plats, 2-desserts, and 3-glasses of wine, our bill came to 103.40€.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Le Pario -- Restaurant Review

54 Av. Emile Zola 75015 Paris
Hours: Every day
12h - 14h00 / 19h - 22h00
Reservations by phone or online: Tel : 01 45 77 28 82/ resto.pario@gmail.com
Metro: Line 10 (Charles Michels)
Website: http://www.restaurant-lepario.com/

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......................................................€€......................................................... 1 - Bell

with regards to noise level, we had a private room)

I usually have lunch on Wednesdays with a group of close friends. On this particular day, I told my friends I needed to be near the 16eme since I would be visiting a friend at the hospital close by. My friend recommended this restaurant, in fact near my home, that she'd been to and really enjoyed it.

I made reservations on "La Forchette" the French version of "The Fork" in the US. I had to change it twice because the number of people changed.  So, when we arrived, it appeared that there was confusion about our reservations and they did not have it. None-the-less, they were able to accommodate all 9 of us. In fact upstairs there's a private room, enough to accommodate a dozen people, easily, and that's the room we had. Great for "noisy" Americans.

As typical of most restaurants, they had a "prix-fixe" lunch with actually looked very interesting. I decided, as half of us did, we would go for this menu. The prices were very reasonable.  This review only covers the prix-fixe menu, but those that ordered à la carte also raved about their food.

After sitting and perusing the other choices on the regular menu, we had a nice "amuse bouche" of pâte à choux (a pastry used to make profiteroles) stuffed with ham and cheese. Very tasty, and a nice start to what was to follow.

ENTRÉE: Raviolis de châtaigne et marrons, écrasé de gambas et girolles, velouté de potiron (Chestnut ravioli, mashed prawns and mushrooms, cream of pumpkin). We all agreed this dish was delicious. Originally, when the waiter was pouring the cream soup over our raviolis, I forgot what type of soup it was and asked him, he said lobster. I think he was confused, cause it was definitely pumpkin. He may have thought I was asking him about the ingredients, after-all there was crushed prawns. I do have to say there was a nice little surprise in the soup, there were a spoonful of chopped sweet beets. This added a nice sweet note to the savory dish and paired well the other ingredients. I will say though, the soup was under-seasoned, then I realized we were given "truffle salt" to sprinkle atop. The truffled salt made a huge difference to the flavor profiles and brought it to a whole other level. DELICIOUS!

PLATS:  Pressé de cochon confit parfumé au romarin fine mousseline de patate douce (Pressed pork confit flavored with rosemary with a fine mousse of  sweet potatoes).  I love anything pork. And, this dish actually reminded me of the Chinese pressed duck dish, but only with pork. There were a lot of textural elements to this dish. With the crunchy skin and the moist meat interior. We did, however, agree that although the dish was delicious it could've used more sauce, since the exterior was coated with a bread crumb and without the sauce it could be dry. None-the-less a simple confit that hit all the textural and tasting notes.

DESSERTS: Clafoutis a la pêche (Peach Clafoutis).  Clafoutis is a thick flan-like batter, very eggy and is typically made with cherries. And, during cherry season, this desserts can easily be found throughout France. I did not have it, but opted for a substitution of cheese. Those that did have loved the dish.

Since I do not eat desserts, as I've said before, you can't go wrong with cheeses in France. I had a nice combination of chevre and some aged hard cheeses.

WINES: Domaine de la grange, Le clos Mabille, corsé.  Described as a fine wine with structure and distinguished by its deep garnet color. It smells like ripe fruit (cherries) highlighted by violets, well balanced with generous body and silky tannins. Ideal with meat sauces.

SUMMARY:  As I've said before, there are a lot of "un-sung" heroes in the food world that are from different countries, and bring a lot of their influences into French cuisine. They are changing the Parisian culinary landscape exponentially. Chef Eduardo Jacinto hails from Brazil, but worked for such luminaries as Chef Christian Constant. The restaurant is located in my neck of the woods, and not typically a tourist destination. It's more of a neighborhood restaurant.  Its a 2-story restaurant. It has a cozy ground level area for dining and I was impressed that they had a large room to accommodate large parties (a dozen or more) on the 2nd floor. What impressed me was as the waiter was about to pour wine into my friends glass, he noticed there was a spot and immediately changed it out. Very impressive, since this is not a "high-end" restaurant and as I mentioned, a more neighborhood restaurant. The only service fault we had was when we were served the soup, they forgot our spoons, but it's a wash, since they did change out spotty wine glasses.

The food was excellent. All courses on the prix-fix menu were perfectly executed. Over-all service was excellent, even with the one mishap (spoons). The price point is excellent as well. There were 9 of us, and we ordered off the menu as well as ordered the prix-fixe lunch. So, the average price per person is a little skewed, my guess it was roughly around 35-40€ per person with 9 entrées, 9 plats, 8 desserts, 2-bottles of wine and 4 soft drinks.

Would we go back, ABSOLUTELY!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Champeaux -- Restaurant Review

Forum des Halles La Canopée 75001 Paris
Phone: 01 53 45 84 50
Hours: 11:30 am to 12 pm Monday-Thursday
11:30 am to 1 am Friday-Sunday
Metro: Châtelet or Les Halles
Website:  https://www.restaurant-champeaux.com/en

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+)

3.25 - Star......................................................€€€......................................................... 1 - Bell

I was never a fan of the old "Les Halles"; it was a run down "seedy" area of Paris. But with the revitalization beginning 2010 it has really transformed. If you walked around, it has the feel of a US mega-mall of yester-year. It has really, really transformed. Some would hate the modernism and the feeling that you could be anywhere, but I sorta like the new area.

The restaurant is an Alain Ducasse creation, but at the helm is Chef Bruno Brangea, who himself has worked at some pretty notable restaurants. The restaurant by any standard is enormous. As you enter, you see a huge American style bar, in fact a cocktail bar.

The restaurant is very modern. There are long booths and tables, lots of windows that give it a very open feel, and there is also al-fresco dining, if you prefer. The restaurant is billed as a cocktail/bar restaurant. And, the mixologist is French Canadian Marjolaine Arpin, unfortunately, she wasn't there, but would be doing a later shift, we were told.

We were seated by the bar, how apropos.  What caught our eyes was the huge "black board"on the wall, and it would update, just as they do at European train stations, noise and all. We found it gimmicky, but loved it.

We perused the menu, now I have to say this is definitely a departure from the French style menus we're use to.  It was a very "American Style" menu. It almost felt like the sports bar menus we have in the U.S.  They also had the special of the day, which was odd, because they ran out of the special before we even had a chance to order, oh well. Also, the English translation online was really, really off, unless they had substitutions for the day. For example, the "Roasted fillet of duckling with peach" was actually duck with figs, not peach. Fortunately, we had the French menu, and it was much more accurate. To be fair, it might also be because they change the menu daily, hence, the menus are not synchronized with their online menu.

Note: As an aside, if you can read French, always order from a French menu. Many times, the English translated menus are incorrect. For example, one time I saw "Breath of duck", when it should've been "Breast of duck". 


Normally, I do not like cocktails in Paris. They're usually never made right, and they're very light in the alcohol department. Our wait-person told us that the bartender was trained in
Canada, where she's from and would be there later. So I spoke to her assistant and asked if he can make a dirty martini, not on the menu.  He said he could. So the first batch he made, he had me taste it, there was just way too much vermouth in it. I just like a hint or none at all. So, I gave him feedback and he remade it without vermouth.  Then friends ordered margaritas, and he had them taste it as well, and they responded that it was way too sour from the limes. The bartender asked if he should add more sugar and my friends said more cointreau. Without question, he redid theirs to their liking as well. So "un-french" to accommodate the diners. Cocktails and the concept of "mixology" is not as well known in Paris as in e.g., San Francisco or NYC, but they're starting to become more and more popular, and my guess is they will vastly improve over the next year or so, as what happened with the coffee in Paris (click on this link for reference "Cafe in Paris")


Lobster Soufflé.  I shared the lobster soufflé with a friend. As it came, we were told to punch a hole
in the center which the waiter then poured the "light bisque" into. At first bite we said, wow, it was very light and airy, the way a soufflé should taste, but mixed with the sauce that was poured, it may have been described as a light bisque, but the lobster flavor was intense and delicious. My guess is that the lobster "tamale"was used for the intense flavoring.  Overall an excellent start.

Eggplant with pesto- This was a very simple entrée, 3-chunks of eggplant nicely seasoned with a pesto, but the pesto and accompanying sauces had strong notes of citrus, which was great for JJ since he likes all things sour, but not so good for me.


"Roasted fillet of duckling with peach" on the English menu it was actually duck with figs, not peach. I'm not a fan of sweet anything on savory dishes. However, my friend really liked this dish and I had a bite of the duck breast, and it was cooked perfectly, very moist and succulent.

Entrecôte (ribeye steak).  I had the rib eye steak and you had several choices of accompaniments, I selected it with fries. And, you also had different choices for an accompanying sauce, I selected a shallot sauce. I ordered the steak cooked medium rare, or in French, "a point". For most Americans this steak would be a little tough because the steak is grass fed versus grain fed as in the US and thus is not as marbled. I liked it, it was good, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Pollock with radish and grapes.  JJ ordered this dish.  The fish was moist and as you can see from the photo, I took a small bite of it. First thought as I took a bite, this has a very fishy taste, which is fine because I like that taste, but this is not a dish for everyone. JJ thought it was an OK dish, nothing extraordinary; however, he found the accompaniment good, albeit it would be quite sweet for some.


CHINON--DOMAINE Bernard Baudry.  Is a wine from the central Loire Valley. The typical quintessential Chinon wine is tannic, leafy, berry-scented Cabernet Franc. I liked it because it was a very light red.


From what I've read, it is said this restaurant is not for everyone.  And, I would agree. If you're looking for a typical Parisian restaurant, you can forget it.  It's very industrial, high-tech, and net-net has a very modern feel.  Surprisingly though, not un-cozzy.  It also has some charm such as the old rail station signage. Although it's located in a mall, it is anything but mall food. It's an enormous restaurant by any standards, but what impressed me most was the charm and personalization of the service despite the size.  The service was beyond reproach.

It is billed as a cocktail/bar restaurant. As for the cocktails, the assistant bartender had textbook knowledge of cocktail recipes, but not quite there yet with the execution. Our wait-person did say we should come back when the bartender arrives later that day. But I give lots of points to the assistant bartender and the restaurant for replacing our cocktails, without question, to our liking.

As for the food, oddly, they don't quite yet have their quantities in sync with their anticipated volume of diners. So, from our perspective it was weird that they were out their special of the day by 12:45 pm, when we ordered. The train station departure board had several off menu items on it when we entered the empty restaurant at 12:30 and by 12:45 the board was cleared.  And during our meal the board kept updating about stuff that would be available later in the afternoon for their 'afternoon' (not lunch) service. We agreed the soufflés were excellent. The plats were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. This is a great place to go if you are in the area, or need to shop and are hungry for a meal or just want a cocktail.  My overall rating would've been lower, however, the service and ambience bumped it up.  It is an above average restaurant that has the potential to becoming a "go-to-place". Bottom line they do need to do some fine tuning such as getting the bartender's assistant more training and knowledge. But I am very confident that will happen over time. Would we return, ABSOLUTELY.

With 5-cocktails, 1 large bottle of water, 4-entrées, 6-plats, bottle of wine, 2-glasses of rosé and 1-coffee our bill came to 60€ per person for 6-people.