"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)!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Café Trama

Address: 83 Rue du Cherche-Midi 76006
Call for hours
Bus 89, 95
Metro: St. Placide (4), Vaneau (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 (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 3 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2 - Bell

This cute little restaurant is not too far from where we live. It was recommended by a friend of ours. We were 4-people.  The interior was cute. Enough space where you didn't feel you were "too" close to people.

The chalk board menu was the same as the printed menu. Our old eyes perused the printed menu. I remember that there were mixed reviews and especially as it concerned the "price-point",  and I'll weight in my own opinion about the price point later.


We decided to share three entrées: Charcuterie (sliced salami and ham) with "rillettes" (meat paté) which we've been told people raved about; anchovies; and white asparagus. The charcuterie was charcuterie, good, but nothing out of the ordinary. The rillettes was very tasty and had a hint of ginger.  Then we shared the anchovies; again, nothing out of the ordinary. They were good and not too salty and came with a nice butter to spread on your bread. And, lastly we shared the white asparagus. I'm not a fan of white asparagus, but the dish was beautifully presented and it was very good. They were served with a coddled egg yolk sauce, which were my favorite on the dish.


Three of us had the "Croque-monsieur "Poujauran" au sel de truffe" (French style grilled ham with truffle salt).  I found this dish interesting. It was atypical of a croque-monsieur. I got the impression it was pan-fried on both sides, similar to what we do in the US, whereas in France the bechamel is laden on top and grilled typically under a salamander. There was definitely bechamel sauce, but not as pronounced as the traditional croque-monsieur.  It was very good, and I liked the novelty that they used a more "American" approach. However, you could've fooled me if there was any truffle in it at all, because I tasted none, not even a hint.  The greens were nice and refreshing and also had a slight bitterness that I enjoyed. And, how can you go wrong with potato chips!

JJ had the special of the day which was a "lieu jaune" (pollock fish). I tasted it and the fish was cooked perfectly; however, the sauce was overwhelming sweet for my taste.  I am not a big fan of sweet sauces on any savory dishes. But JJ thought overall it was delicious dish, and the accompanying greens were good. There was a halved bokchoy and Asian greens of either chinese celery or kobako greens.  The greens also contains some anchovy paste.


Our table shared the fruit tart as well as "clafouti" (cherry tart). The fruit tart was simple and quite attractive. It did not come with an accompanying sauce, but our friends asked for some creme anglaise to compliment the dish. The grouped liked this dessert.

As for the clafouti it did not not look very appealing, but JJ said it was good, but was not as sweet as expected. It was very moist.


In its simplicity the food was very good. Nothing for me really stood out as something I would clamor my way back to; however, if I'm in the neighborhood and I need a meal, pourquoi pas (why not)! The service was EXCELLENT!

Now onto the price point. I'm with the camp of reviewers that believe that this restaurant is expensive for what you get. 15€ for a croque-monsieur, which is basically a grilled ham sandwich with potato chips and some greens is expensive. And, had we ordered a more substantial lunch, a plat could've cost as much as 36€.

Net-net the food was very good, nothing outstanding; service was excellent; unfortunately the price point was poor.

With a bottle of an excellent Malbec, 3-entrées, 4-plats, 2-desserts, 1-soda and 3-coffees, our lunch meal cost 164€ for 4-people.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Le Grand Véfour

17 Rue Du Beaujolais, 75001
Tel:  01 42 96 56 27
Metro: Palais Royale or Palais Royale Musée de Louvre
Website: http://www.grand-vefour.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 (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 3.5 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 2 - Bell

On occasion we will splurge and go to an over-the-top restaurant, in this case we went for JJ's birthday. This restaurant reeks with history. In fact in 1784 a Messr. Aubertot opened up the fashionable "Café de Chartres", which is the exact spot that the Grand Véfour is housed today. And, since 1830's luminaries such as Victor Hugo, Raymond Oliver, Colette and Jean Cocteau, Sacha Guitry, Louis Aragon, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone Beauvoir, Louis Jouvet and André Malraux just to name drop have eaten at this restaurant. So, net-net, this restaurant has quite the history.

We went for a late lunch, 1:30 pm.  As we entered we noticed the striking beauty of the dining room. The painted gold leaf ceilings and walls were spectacular. The table we got, eh, not so good. I had read in prior reviews that there is one particular table to avoid, but it does have an overall view of the dining room and the Palais Royale.  Lucky us, we got that table. It was a table where we sat side-by-side.  In hindsight, we should requested a different table (although the restaurant seemed full). In addition to not being able to sit face-to-face, the table was right next to the entrance where their army of wait-staff traversed.  Also, directly in front of us was one of their resting/service tables where they hold their cheese, bottles of wine and water for each table. I didn't mind it so much, but it was odd. There were a few instances where I came within 2-inches of being hit by a tray, granted it was sterling silver, but still...  At one point I got fed up with the near misses, and JJ and I physically moved our table inward to avoid the foot traffic.

For lunch they have a pre-fix menu. You have one of three choices for an entrée, plat and dessert. In addition, you also have a cheese course.

For an aperitif JJ ordered a pastis and I ordered a kir.  Surprisingly, as soon as we got our aperitifs we were served our amuse bouche at the same time. We didn't even have time to take a leisurely sip of our apertifs.  For our amuse bouche we had a ceviche of bar (bass) with a cracker that was reminiscent of a tortilla chip. Uneventful, but good.


JJ ordered the bass which of course was different than the amuse bouche. It was beautifully presented and was served in a part of the fish skin to almost resemble a lengthwise sliced bone filled with goodies. I ate the skin and it was inedible, very rubbery. I personally don't like anything on a plate that's not edible. Other than that, it was a good dish.

I had the foie gras. It was delicious, albeit very, very rich. In fact, this was probably the richest foie gras I've ever had, and I've had quite a few. No complaints here, it was delicious.

Both entrees were of a substantial size.


JJ had the "tete de veau" which was not on the menu, but a suggestion of the day. Again, the dish was beautifully presented. It was wrapped in a fatty membrane. The meat itself was delicious but the fatty membrane was very rubbery. It could've been cooked longer to make it easier on the palate.

I had the veal.  The veau was cooked perfectly. It was delicious. Unfortunately it sat atop wilted beansprouts and lettuce and I wasn't very fond of it.

Both dishes came with accompanying vegetables and a small frisée with bits of tomato...


Oh my God, can we say we're in cheese heaven. They had nearly every conceivable cheese ever invented in France. This and dessert, which I'll describe later were my favorite courses. I had a selection of the more aged cheeses, while JJ ordered the younger cheeses. All were delicious.


If you are a "sugarholic" then you will love Véfour. I do not think I've ever been to a restaurant that served so much sugar in my life.  And, my readers may remember I gave up sugar 3-years ago. I did make an exception today since it was JJ's birthday.

Along side our desserts, we were given a platter of various petit-fours.

We both had the milk chocolate mousse.  It was not only beautifully presented, but it was delicious.  The milk chocolate mouse was encased in a rich dark chocolate. Accompanying it was a tower of an upright canelle shapped tower filled with soft creamy chocolate. This dessert was a hit.

Our dessert was also accompanied with a panne cotta. It was flavorless, and neither of us finished it.

And, we were also given sugary fruit gum candy, what we know as "gummy bears" in the U.S.

Then we were offered a pound cake. I turned it down, but JJ had it. I took a little taste of it, it was just average, in fact dull, boring and uninspired, and a tad on the dry side. A dollop of whip cream could've saved it. Or even a nice helping of rum ala  "baba rhum".  We did not finish it.

Then they served us some chocolate truffles. They had a nice selection of chocolates. What I found perplexing for a Michelin starred restaurant is that they plopped the chocolate atop the cake?  Not on a plate, or at least on our petit-four platter?

And, when we thought all was well and done, when we ordered our coffee and they offered us a platter of more sweets, which I declined, but looked like various nuggets.


I've been to a few Michelin starred restaurants, so I do have a point of comparison. First let me say, the restaurant is beautiful and filled with history, but what separates a Michelin starred restaurant with the rest are the fine details. Let's start with the table. A restaurant will always have a less than desirable table, and unfortunately, we were the lucky recipients. But they could've moved our table inward more, there was plenty of room to do so. We were literally the first table to your left as you entered, so the foot traffic for the army of servers was annoying.  Note, this table has been unfavorably written up in previous reviews. We could've asked them to move our table, but we decided to do it on our own. I made this decision after having a few near misses with a tray.

With an army of wait-staff you would think they would be more attentive.  For example, when I went to the restroom, at minimum they would at least refolded my napkin and place it back on the table or in some Michelin starred restaurants, I've actually gotten new napkins. This is the type of fine detail I'm referring to. The service was above average, but I expected more. For example, our water wasn't always filled, and later we had to ask to have JJ's tea refreshed. The service also felt a bit rushed. There's just no excuse for this caliber of restaurant.

As for the food. Overall the dishes were above average, but nothing outstanding. I say, let the customers enjoy their apertif for a few minutes before hand, at minimum. My favorite savory dish was actually the cheeses.  Their breads were fabulous and accompanied with the nice choice of unsalted or salted butter, it was a nice touch. The desserts were fabulous.  God knows you get enough of them. It should've been called the dessert tasting menu. I would not recommend this restaurant if you're diabetic.

Overall, it was a disappointing experience, I expected more. I understand why it lost it's pizazz, as a result they actually lost their 3-star Michelin rating to a still respectable two-star rating. If they're not careful, they may lose another star(s). I think what carries this restaurant is it's name recognition and status.  For me, it was a one off restaurant, and we'll probably not go back.

With a kir, pastis, and two-glasses of wine with 2-bottled water, tea and coffee our bill came to $322.05 for 2-people.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Zébulon

10 Rue de Richelieu 1er
Tel: 01-42-36-49-44
Metro: line #1, #7 Bus 95, 69 (Palais Royale Musée de Louvre)
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 (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 4.5 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 3 - Bell

A good friend J, also a food writer, wrote this as one of his top 10 favorite restaurants to date for 2015. But it took another friend of ours Linda to say, let's go and make the arrangements. Thank you J and thank you Linda. What a find.

Located in the 1er arrondissement next to "Palais Royale," this is the second restaurant by the owners of "Pirouette", (click on link to see review).  The Chef Yannick Lahopgnou originally from Cameron, worked in Osaka Japan where he worked for 4 years as executive chef of a 1* Michelin French restaurant, that explains the menu, which I'll go into later.

We were 4 for dinner. The interior of Zébulon had the same style sensibility as Pirouette.  Clean lines, simple decor in a high tech style, but not cold or uninviting, probably because they used wood for the bar and had the softness of wooden chairs.  I liked it.

They have a wall filled with wines, albeit a bit pricey. They're known for their extensive wine collection. We selected a more reasonably priced bordeaux, which we all had mixed reviews on. Even our waiter gave us the slight impression that maybe we should let it breath so the wine would soften. I personally did not like this wine.

For our amuse bouche we had a "gourgère" filled with salmon. I joked that it reminded me of a petite lighter version of bagels and lox. The salmon was good, but definitely had an intense strong salmon flavor.


Dashi, magret de canard, foie gras, navets, yuzu (Dashi, duck breast, foie gras, turnips, yuzu). Now what an interesting entrée. We were leery at first, after all "dashi", which is basically fish and kelp stock, with duck and foie gras? Wow, talk about a refined dish. Japanese are known for their subtle and refined uses of ingredients. This dish really worked. The dashi and "yuzu" worked. No one component overtook another. It all complimented each other. The broth was light with a slight fattiness from the foie gras and duck and we know fat adds flavor. The foie gras and duck were cooked perfectly, overall delicious. In fact, one of my favorite entrées. What a great start.

Encornets, betteraves, crème d'ail (Squid, beets, garlic cream).  The dish was beautifully presented. The colors screamed "eat me cause I'm pretty".  The squid was perfectly cooked and atop the beets gave the dish a nice "ying-yang" flavor of sweet with the savory. The garlic cream was an added bonus, for sure. Delicious.

Asperge verte, écrevisse, sabayon (Green asparagus, crayfish, sabayon). Asparagus is in season, we definitely had to have this dish. Eating vegetables in season and from the land, otherwise known as "terroir" is a must. There's nothing like having vegetables in season, fresh from the garden. The asparagus was perfectly cooked, and the sabayon added a nice accompaniment. The crayfish also gave it a nice savory element. Another hit.

Dorade confite avocat, pétales d'endives sesame, grillé (Dorade candied lawyer, endive petals sesame, grilled).  I've never had a "dorade" confite'd before.  So, this was a new experience for me. All I can say was, WOW, really loved this dish. The Chef added a crusted sesame on the fish which not only gave it a 2-dimensional textures, but the added flavor of the toasted sesames brought it to a whole new level. What a melding of cultures. The French confit of the dorade and the much used sesame in Asian cuisines. This was also one of my favorites.


Rascasse, raviole, fenouil, saule vierge (Scorpion fish, ravioli, fennel, virgin willow). The two who ordered this dish loved it. I tasted and thought it was very good. The swordfish was cooked perfectly and sat atop a ravoli filled with fennel; it almost had a slightly sweet taste. Accompanying it was a roasted fennel stalk. Nicely composed dish. Although a very good dish, I preferred the other 2-plats, which I'll describe next.

Filet de veau fregula, asperges blanches, artichauts (Veal fillet fregula, white asparagus, artichokes). This dish was perfect. I don't normally like rare meats of any kind, but whoever their source is, my hats off to you. The veal was so tender and moist, and the "fregula" pasta accompanying the dish along with the jus was a nice accompaniment. This was another hit.

Pigeon royal miel-canelle, pommel gaufrette (Royal Pigeon honey-cinnamon, apple waffled wafer). This was my favorite dish of all the plats).  I was surprised that there was a touch of cinnamon in the sauce, since it's pretty well known that French Chefs don't really like cinnamon in savory dishes, nor for that matter is rarely used in desserts. The pigeon sitting atop sweet cabbage was perfect. The pigeon was so succulent and the accompanying sauce was out of this world delicious. It was packed with so much flavor that a little went a long way. I could've licked the plat. And, who doesn't like crispy, crunchy potato chips!  I will definitely order this dish again!


As some of my readers know, as a general rule I don't eat sugar, so I can eat savory without worrying about getting too fat. Unfortunately, they did not have a cheese platter, oh well. But the others ordered two of the desserts, which I did take a taste of.

Poires au miel, amandes marjolaine et glace citron/marjolaine (Pears with honey, almonds and marjoram ice lemon / marjoram).  Linda who had this dish loved it. However, she said the majoram in the ice cream was very subtle.  I had a little taste, I thought it was really delicious, and I especially liked the toasted sweet almond wafer with the almond encrusted petit gateaux. A very good dessert.

Praliné noisette, biscuit, chocolat au lait, sorbet citron (Hazelnut praline, biscuit, chocolate milk lemon sorbet).  Of the two desserts we ordered, I have to say, this was absolutely stupendous. Very simply presented. The bittersweet chocolate, encased a very beautiful soft creamy milk chocolate mousse was heaven. And the citron sorbet' was truly a nice "ying-yang" experience of sweet and tart.  I loved this dish.


This restaurant has been opened for a little more than a year, and it's already on the radar of many food enthusiasts. The food is forward thinking, innovative and all-around presented beautifully, and they were uniquely delicious.

So, one word CHAPEAU! (hats off), to the Chef. This is my own prejudice, but I find Asian Chefs or French Chefs of late, who've traveled to Asia serving French food in Paris are truly wonderfully innovative, forward thinking Chefs. And, with globalization, Chefs who impart flavors from other countries with classical French cuisine are a hit. The French rigidity of classic French food is starting to soften, thank goodness.  I believe Chefs who travel the world are truly the future of the culinary world.  Imagine, a French classically trained Chef using ingredients from the world. A match made in heaven.

As for the dishes, my favorite entrée was the "Dorade confite avocat, pétales d'endives sesame, grillé", an East meets West dish. For the plats, hands down the pigeon. And, for the dessert definitely the chocolate. The service was EXCELLENT! The only minor complaint, is since the walls are bare, it can be difficult to hear. But that's a minor price to pay for the outstanding food!

This restaurant is a little pricey, but well worth it. With 1-bottle of bordeaux, 2-glasses of rosé (FYI, wines by the glasses are much more reasonably priced) our meal for 4-people came to 226€.

This has to be one of my favorite restaurants of 2015 to date!

Click here for a "Video Overview"

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Restaurant Review -- "Restaurant AG"

L'Art culinaire de Saint-Germain "AG"
2 rue Clément 75006
Tel: 01-43-25-77-66
web: www.ag-restaurant.fr
email: ag.restaurant@yahoo.fr
Metro line #4 Odeon

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 (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

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

I fell in love with the 6eme arrondissement when we first moved to Paris in 2008, but lately, we've not gone because we sometimes find the area too touristy for our liking, favoring the more "local" neighborhoods.  There's a reason this area is sometimes known as "Little America", but I have to say, I'm glad we came, what a find. 

The restaurant was highly recommended by our good friend J. It's been open for about a year. This was his 3rd visit. Ironically, it's on the same block as a soup kitchen. Here is one of the wealthiest areas of Paris and you have a soup kitchen near by. Very surreal, I almost felt guilty.

The interior is very simple, but cozy.  As you entered, there is a small bar and from what I could see they also served cocktails, not a huge selection, but I'm sure it would satisfy most American customers desire to start off with a cocktail.

We perused the menu. It's not an extensive menu, but as many of my readers know, I like small menus. I'm always leery of restaurants with a large menu. My philosophy is having few choices allows you to do each dish perfectly, in theory.  And, for 28€ for an entrée, plat and dessert, this is a very reasonably priced restaurant for the "Saint Germain" area.  There were 4 of us and we were able to sample everything on the menu.

As we entered we were given morsels of what looked like black tiny cookies. In actuality they were morsels of parmesan.  There is a belief that cheese is a palette cleanser. I wasn't that fond of it, since it was a little bit dry for my liking, but hey, that's parmesan for you.

Our amuse bouche was wonderful. It was a refreshing cream of celery with chives and a dollop of olive oil. Great start.


Foie gras poêlé, julienne legumes, bouillon d'artichaut (Foie gras pan seared, apples, julienne vegetables with artichoke broth).  Our waiter inadvertently gave us all the same entrée even though JJ ordered the Oeuf Parfait. Regardless, the waiter said keep it and we'll bring you out what you wanted as well. So, lucky JJ got 2-entrées.  What a perfectly wonderful entrée.  The fois was cooked perfectly. It had a nice sear and had a creamy soft interior. The texture and tartness of the granny smith apples and the accompanying vegetables with a light artichoke broth just brought the dish together. This was a well composed dish.

Oeuf parfait, petits pois à la mente, radis noir pickles (Egg parfait, peas with mint, black radish pickles). I thought the fois gras was a nice entrée, but this was absolutely superb. The creamy peas was delicious and the mint gave it another level of complexity. It sounds heavy, but it was actually very light and refreshing. This was a hit with all of us.


Quasi veau, mousseline de pomme de terre, petits légumes, jus au citron (Veal, potato mousseline, baby vegetables, lemon juice). What a great dish. One of us had the veal rare, whereas I had mine medium rare. They actually cooked both to our specifications, both cooked perfectly, and the waiter added a "demi-glace" that was out of this world good. The concentrated flavors of this sauce just made the veal that much more delicious. And, sprinkled around the dish were fresh greens and one I haven't seen in Paris, "nastarium" leafs  typically found in Australia.

Steak d'espadon céleri en deux texture, rhubarbe (Swordfish steak celery with two textures, rhubarb). This dish was beautifully presented, and although the fish was perfectly cooked, it was under-seasoned, so we asked for salt. However, the menu was a little misleading.  We were wondering where the rhubarb was, so we asked the waiter. He said the rhubarb was incorporated into the celery mixture, it must've been faintly incorporated. The celery was a bit sour for my liking, but I'm thinking the sourness may have come from the rhubarb. I think they should change the description on the menu. Regardless, it was a delicious dish.


Déclinaison sur la fraise (Strawberries deconstructed).  JJ asked the waiter between the cheese plate and the strawberry which would he prefer. He recommended this dish. It was beautifully presented with a pot of strawberry coulis, strawberry ice cream, fresh strawberries, and crumble.  The sauce needed to be poured onto the dessert. Jack liked the dish, he said overall it was a good dish, but nothing extraordinary.

Tarte chocolat façon "AG" fruits exotiques (Chocolate tarte ala "AG" and exotic fruits). This dish reminded me of a forest of fruit that lead to the big surprise, sort of like the "yellow brick road" leading the way to the chocolate tart and mousse.  The tart itself was sandwiched with some nice fresh fruit. Our friend said the chocolate was rich and delicious.

Cheese platter was great. Had a nice variety from a light chevre, to a very strong roquefort with a dollop of apple chutney.  No complaints here.

And, when we thought all was said in done, when we ordered coffee, our coffee was accompanied by financiers and different textures of loose chocolate which included rice crispy-like chocolates. My favorite was the coco powdered nuts, which I finished single-handedly.


Although I'm neither French nor Parisian, I feel like a local. So I try to avoid touristy areas, preferring local off the beaten path restaurants/bistros. The 6eme and the 7eme arrondissements is sometimes known as "Little America" for a reason.  But what a find. This restaurant serves delicious, BEAUTIFULLY presented dishes and for the area which is known to be very "chi-chi" the prices were very, very reasonable; 3-courses for 28€.  They used edible flowers and micro-leafs such as "nasturtium leaves" with the latter not commonly used in France, but it did not distract from the meal.  In fact, it gave it a touch of elegance.  My favorite dishes were the pea sauce on JJ's entrée, and for the plat, definitely the veal. The service is excellent. Typical of France, you all begin your meal when everyone is served. And, because they made in error in giving us all the same entrée, our waiter said enjoy it and we'll bring you your desired entrée as well, so that way we would not have to wait and can all commence at the same time, thumbs up for that.  With 2-bottles of a Bordeaux, 2-glasses of Sancerre blanc, and 3 coffees our bill came to 177€ for 4-people.  Would I come back, in a heartbeat!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Ellsworth

34 Rue de Richelieu 75001
website: www.ellsworthparis.com
Metro: Line 1 & 7 Palais Royale -- Musée du Louvre

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 (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 1.75 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 4 - Bell

Ellsworth is the sister restaurant of the very popular restaurant "Verjus", in fact in walking distance. The building is under construction, but the inside is complete.  I'm getting over a cold, but fortunately I was able to taste their food.

It's a long narrow restaurant. I liked it's simplicity. Later I found that the bare walls actually did not make it conducive to having a normal conversation, which I will explain later in the summary.

We perused the menu, and it was nice simple menu, which I really like. They're known for their fried chicken, so I already knew what I would get for my main course.  Actually, the price point is excellent, especially when compared to Verjus. And, the wine list was very comprehensive, after all it is also a wine bar.


Two of us had the "Brocoli, beurre d'anchois, sésame, parmesan, piment, citron" (Broccoli, anchovy butter, sesame, parmesan, pepper, lemon).  They not only used the broccoli florets, but they also used the stem, which I appreciate, since often times many Chefs discard this delicious part of the broccoli.  However, I did not enjoy this dish. It had a strange bitter after-taste, and I thought since I was just getting over a cold maybe it was just me. But my 2-companions also said something just wasn't right.

Our friend J ordered the "Ganache de foie gras, noisette, mesculin, croûtons, pomme" (Foie gras ganache, hazelnut, mescalin, croutons, apple). This was an interesting dish I must say. Typically, when I think of ganache, I think of dessert and chocolate. But the waiter told us it's a house "creation".  I wanted so much to like this dish, but what it tasted to me was like taking foie gras and whipping it with cream and shaping it into a quenelle.  It had the consistency of thick mousse. None of us at the table liked this dish. I suppose we're purist when it comes to foie gras.

NOTE:  Now this is the part that really annoyed me. They asked us to keep our utensils for our next course. I find this practice insulting. Get a damn dishwasher!


J and I had the "Poulet frit au lait fermenté, choux chinois, oignon rouge, moutarde" (Fried chicken marinated in buttermilk, Chinese cabbage, red onion, mustard). I've been craving for some good fried chicken, which is a rarity in Paris, and I was told this is the dish they're known for. The dish sat atop coleslaw, perfect since I do like coleslaw. I have to say they breaded the chicken perfectly. It had a beautiful crunchiness and it was extremely moist. Now here's the problem with this dish; they need to control the saltiness. My guess is the Chef brined the chicken, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, too much of the salt was retained in the flesh.  There are many remedies to fix the saltiness, such as soaking in water etc.  We had 4-pieces, J was not able to finish his because of the saltiness. This would've been a perfect fried chicken had it not been for the salty flesh. I will say though, the coleslaw was light and fresh.

JJ had the "Orecchiette d'Ortie, Pleurotes gris, choux, pesto, parmesan" (Orecchiette pasta made with nettles, gray oyster mushrooms, cabbage, pesto, parmesan).  I like al-dente pasta, but this was way undercooked, it was very rubbery, raw, gummy pasta. Overall the dish lacked any real taste, maybe because the texture of the orecchiette was so off-putting. The dish was very one-dimensional, and lacked any sophistication, it just sort of melded into a green mess although the mushrooms were tasty.


I had their cheese plate, which was a thick slice of "Fromage chaource, confiture de pomme et miel" (Chaource cheese, apple jam and honey). We all loved this cheese. If I were to compare it with another well known cheese, it's like a camembert that's been aged just a tad. This was a winner.

J had the "Beignets de pomme a la cannelle, dulce de leche, sel de maldon" (Apple cinnamon donuts, dulce de leche, Maldon salt).  Oh my God, this dessert was pure perfection. The beignets were crunchy on the outside and moist and tender, just they way they should be. And, the abundant cinnamon and sugar brought me back to New Orleans. I absolutely loved this dish and it was my favorite.

JJ had the "Glace au malt, sorbet au chocolat, espuma de café, biscuit au lait vanille" (Malted ice cream,  chocolate sorbet, frothy coffee, vanilla milk biscuit).  Again, we all loved this dessert. It had different nuances and layers so it was a very nicely composed dessert. You had the creaminess of the ice cream and then you had the crunchy texture of the "crumble".  It was a hit.


Braden Perkins and  Laura Adrien, the owners are excellent Chefs. I've had their food in different venues, and I have to say, I was really disappointed with Ellsworth. As many know, I'm a stickler for the dining experience being about the "whole" experience, from the time you make the reservations until you leave. I love their online booking system, so you can book any time you want. Thumbs up to them on this simple technology however they don't like to take reservations on the phone, preferring the online system, and the online system sends an email 24 hours before your reservation which you must reconfirm or your reservation is cancelled.  And if you do need to cancel they request 24 hours notice.

The one of many problems we had was the noise level. The restaurant was not at full capacity, but our friend J had a decibel measuring device and it reached as high as 95 (db), which according to hearnet.com "...with regular sustained exposure may cause permanent hearing damage." They also had piped in music which did not help. And, you're not a cafeteria, change out the utensils before the next course. But the service was very good and attentive.

Now onto the food. We unanimously did not like the entrées nor the plats. They could easily be fixed. In fact, I met some friends afterwards for apéros (afternoon cocktails) and I must've drunk a whole gallon of water because I was so thirsty. I can only attribute it to the chicken.  However, the desserts were perfection, but for some of us, desserts do not make a meal.  My rating would've been lower had it not been for the desserts and wines.

With a bottle each of a white and of a red wine, which by the way were excellent, and coffee our bill came to 44€ per person.