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)!

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

(Note:
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". 


COCKTAILS

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")



ENTRÉE

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.







PLATS


"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.








WINE

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.













SUMMARY

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. 









Monday, September 12, 2016

La Maison Becquey -- Restaurant Review


 34 quai de la Marne in the 19eme
Tel:  01.45.26.97.79
Metro: Line 5 (Ourcq)
open 7-days from 8 AM - midnight

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

Well readers, I'm back from my summer vacation and it feels good to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, my start for reviewing restaurants has not gone well.  First let me say, it was a beautiful day in Paris.  This restaurant is along the "Canal de l'Ourcq" of Paris. So the restaurant had a perfectly great view of the canal and the way the pocket doors opened, you felt a nice breeze both on the terrace and interior of the restaurant, and it was a welcome relief especially on a warm day.

This is going to be a complete departure from my regular style of reviewing restaurants. I don't want to waste too much time nor effort in reviewing a restaurant that needs some serious work with their service and some of the dishes.


The menu was a bit strange. There was a clear view of the rotisserie, but their menu said that you have to request the roast chicken 72-hours prior? And, some of the dishes were really bizarre, like the "Bagel Texas” which was composed of chicken, tomatoes, onions, cheddar, bacon and a honey mustard sauce. First of all, since when is Texas known for their bagels?


For the entrée JJ had the beet appetizer. It was a good salad. Very citrusy with sweet notes from the beets.

Now here's where the problem began. We asked if we could have the chicken, and they said yes. Little did we know it would take 70 minutes between the time JJ finished his beets (he was the only one that wanted an entrée among the three of us).  First time we asked where's our dish? they said it's coming. Second time we asked I specifically told them it's been an hour since our entrée and he said it would come in 10-minutes. I guess third time's the charm.  Let me put it another perspective, we waited 1-HOUR AND 10 MINUTES, between the first course, where 2 of us did not have an entrée and people were coming and going and we were still waiting for our damn plats.

We finally got our plats, and to add insult to injury my chicken, which was the "spiced" chicken, was drier than the desert canyon of death valley. The cut portion was strange to say the least. It consisted of the wing, a lot of back with accompanying bones that's usually used for stock, and a tiny bit of breast. It tasted like it was seasoned with lawry's seasoned salt. Don't even get me started on the fries. They gave a whole new meaning to the word "limp." My guess is that they "blanched fried" the fries, but forget to give it a second fry, or that's how they make them.

J ordered the stuffed chicken, and although the stuffing was very tasty with mushrooms and herbs his chicken tasted like it was an old rooster that hadn't been quite cooked long enough, therefore it had a rubbery texture.

JJ was the only one that had a decent dish. He had the bar that was pan roasted, skin was crispy and sat atop some mashed sweet potatoes.

We feared that we would be there til midnight if we had ordered dessert, so we opted not to have any.


SUMMARY:

The Canal St. Martin and the surrounding area is where the new hip and trendy scene is starting to emerge, and this is especially true with the restaurant scene. And, you can find some excellent affordable food because rents are low, so Chefs can concentrate on the ingredients and cooking. Unfortunately, this restaurant isn't one of them. It's trendy, in a great location, but that's where it ends.

I suppose if you order the "in and out" menu, e.g., salads or the formule, you would get served faster. But I saw people getting served pasta, hamburgers and even ordering 2 or 3 courses getting served faster than us. I give them credit though, they did acknowledge their shortcomings and offered us free coffee (really, a free cup of coffee)?

Our bill with 1-entrée, 3-plats, 2-bottles of wine, and 2 coffees offered to make up as an apology for the 70 minute wait between courses, was 92€ for 3-people, but really?

Fortunately, the lunch was not wasted. We were able to catch up with our good friend J who we haven't seen all summer.

Would I go back, ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Happy Summer - Bon été 2016




Comme d'habitue (as usual), I will be spending the summer in the U.S.  I will continue my Paris restaurant reviews when I return in mid-September.

I want to wish all my readers a safe and Happy Summer!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

L'Accolade -- Restaurant Review


208 rue de la Croix Nivert
75015 Paris
Tel: 01 45 57 73 20
Closed Sundays
Metro: 12 (Convention), Bus line 62 (Convention-Lecoubre)

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+)

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


This restaurant is in our neighborhood. I recognized the area immediately and I thought, wait a minute, didn't this use to be the restaurant "Jadis"? and, it was.  Jadis was extremely popular in its heyday in the late 2000's, but starting losing favor because of the inconsistent food and the inconsistent service. So, we went in to see what the name change, the new Chef and new menu was all about.



We perused the menu. They had a standard menu which looks as if they serve it daily. And, they had a "menu of the day".  Note the "menu du jour" was an excellent, excellent deal.

Interestingly, none of us got the "Menu du jour" (menu of the day), we all went a la carte.

















ENTRÉES


Tartare de crevettes au mascarpone, avocats et tomates confites. (Shrimp tartare with mascarpone, avocados and confit of tomatoes). This was probably my favorite entrée of the day. The combination of the shrimp (brininess) with the soft smooth naturally sweet taste of the mascarpone and avocados served with tomatoes was such a wonderful combination of complimenting flavors. Overall an excellent start.






Petit pois, girolles et oeuf a 63º C. (Peas, mushrooms and egg 63º C). This was my next favorite entrée. Oftentimes "girolles" (mushrooms) can be extremely gritty from the sand. This is because there is a general belief that mushrooms should not be washed, but brushed, since flavor can be lost, and they absorb a lot of liquid. But these were very good, perfectly cooked and no sand and grit. And the peas were nice and firm, and the poached egg just added a wonderful delicious creaminess to the dish.



Raviolis de betteraves au chèvre frais et raves colores. (Beet ravioli with goat cheese and colorful leafs). This came in as our 3rd favorite. It was a very simple dish, nothing out of the ordinary, but a good dish none-the-less. However, I personally found the beet flavored cheese component too sweet.







PLATS 

Espadon, puree de carottes au gingembre, jus coco et curry. (Swordfish, carrot puree with ginger, coconut water and curry). The two who had this dish loved it. They thought the swordfish was cooked perfectly and the accompanying sweet puree'd carrots flavored with the ginger and coconut water added nice subtle flavors to enhance the dish. The only complaint the two had was that it may have been a little too salty.




Poitrine de cochon, puree maison sauce miel et coriandre.  (Pork belly, their special mash potatoes with honey and coriander sauce). I love pork belly, and this pork belly was delicious. Perfectly cooked with a crusty exterior and moist interior Note, there were bits of fat, but that's characteristic, but that's what pork belly is all about. The only complaint I have is a personal one, I do not like sweet anything. So, for me, although the mashed potatoes were delicious, I found them too sweet. But most would find the combination delicious.


Minute d’agneau, legumes verts, jus d'agneau. (Minute lamb, green vegetables, lamb jus). The person ordering this dish was a bit disappointed. He likes really rare meat. Unfortunately, the way the meat was cut into morsels, even though it may have been cooked for a minute, the residual heat made it more done than he would've liked. For me, who neither likes rare nor raw meats, I thought the lamb was perfectly cooked. I think it was a very good plat. In hindsight, although I loved the pork, I should've switched with him.


DESSERTS


Sable breton, creme citron, fraises. (Breton butter crust, lemon cream, with strawberries). I liked this dessert. I had a taste of it. Who doesn't like butter crust; nice and buttery almost like a butter cookies. The lemon cream was more like a soft pastry cream flavored with lemon. I liked that it wasn't too tart. And, the freshness of the strawberries was just a nice overall refreshing dessert.



Millefeuille vanille et caramel beurre salé.  (Leafs of puff pastry with vanilla and caramel salted butter). This was our favorite dessert of the day. WOW, delicious all around. Millefeuille as we know it is more commonly used to make "Napoleons". The flaky crust alone I could've eaten. And, the vanilla cream with the caramel just put this over the top. We loved this dessert.








As for the wines, we got one each of Brumont LA Gascogne D’Alain Brumont sauvignon blanc and a merlot. These are wines from the southwest of France.

Merlot. It was a good wine that's actually in the same family as that of the cabernet sauvignon. So the wine is not a strong wine, but because of the less tannins it had a fruitier taste.

Sauvignon.  Characteristic of sauvignon blancs, it can range from a zesty lime to a flowery peach flavor. I would say it was somewhat in the middle.








SUMMARY

I'm glad Chef Guillaume Delage came in and bought out the old "Jadis Restaurant" which for whatever reason was going downhill quickly.  He basically created a whole new menu. His philosophy is "cook today’s best products in yesterday’s style."  I give him credit on his flavorings. He went outside the "French-box" to add flavors not normally associated with French cuisine such as curry or coconut water. The service was EXCELLENT. Our waiter actually spent the time to go over the menu line-by-line. Because the lamb did not come out as our friend specifically requested it, rare, my overall rating would've been higher.  Would I go back, ABSOLUTELY, it's in walking distance of our apartment.

For 4-entrées, 4-plats, 3-desserts, 2-bottles of wine, and 3-coffees 204.40€, or just over 51€ a person.





Friday, June 17, 2016

L'Assiette -- Restaurant Review


181, rue du Château
75014 Paris
tel: +33 (0) 143 226 486
Bus: Line 62 (Les plantes)
Metro (13) Pernéty, (4) Mouton-Duvernet
Website: http://restaurant-lassiette.paris/ 

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+)

4.5 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2 - Bell


Another great find not too far from our home.  I could've walked, but unfortunately it was raining so I opted to take the short bus ride. The restaurant is tucked away on a side street of a main thoroughfare, Avenue du Maine in the 14eme. It's the only red building on the tiny side street of Rue du Château.


It's a spacious restaurant, but what caught my attention was the etched acid stained glass ceiling. It was quite impressive. The maitre'd and our waitress warmly greeted us and while we waited for our friends to arrive they gave us some nice slices of thin "jambon" (ham), very tasty I might add.



We perused the menu, they had a nice selection of meats, fowl and seafood, in particular squid. They also had a daily prix-fixe menu, which I guess must be their staples because they did have substitutions for the 2-plats, which was pork and a octopus risotto, replacing the "quail" and "squid."


ENTRÉES

Bisque de crevettes. (Shrimp bisque). At the bottom of the bowl were some crispy croutons and some chopped shrimps, with a dollop of creme fraiche. Our wait person poured a thick rich bisque. I tasted it, and it was absolutely delicious, albeit rich. The shrimp flavors came through and the crunchiness of the croutons gave it texture, and the chopped bits of shrimp added to the shrimp flavor. It was a hit.








Terrine de campagne. (Country terrine). Recently, I've had some fatty, very dry and even "grissly" terrines, this was neither. This was a great example of what a terrine should be. There were bits and pieces of various cuts of meat.  It was encased in pork skin which I assumed help keep it moist naturally.  It came with a slaw made of simple creamy mayonnaise, and accompanied with slices of crunchy toasted slices of baguettes. I'd have to say this was one of the best terrines I've had in a long time.




PLATS

Poulpe risotto. (Squid risotto). I don't know why, but I was expecting squid ink, probably because I misunderstood what the special was. But I was pleasantly surprised to see a risotto flavored with saffron. The dish was simply presented, but it did pack a punch of different flavors and textures. The risotto was perfectly cooked (al-dente) and the octopus was so incredibly tender. Then much to our surprise there was a piece of sweet braised pork and perfectly salted. What an absolutely great dish, visually, texturally and hit different notes in your mouth.




Râble de lapin farci de cochon rôti en cocotte. [Stuffed rabbit cooked in a cocotte (cast iron casserole pot)]. I like the taste of rabbit (tastes like chicken, hahaha), but I rarely order it because I find the thin bones bothersome. This rabbit was "deboned" and stuffed. It was slowly braised, I had a taste of the rabbit and have to say it was perfectly cooked and very moist. It was accompanied with carrots and various vegetables. A nice hearty stew.






Cochon en cocotte. (Pork cooked in a cocotte). This was one of the specials of the day. It was actually poitrine de cochon (pork belly),  typically cooked with the skin and a layer of fat. I had a taste of it, it was cooked perfectly, moist and succulent. And, my friend who had it loved the simple braised pork.










Pappardelles de seiche façon paella. (Pappardelle with squid paella way).  When I first read this, I don't know why I assumed it would be a pasta dish because of the papparadelles in the title. Turns out the squid was thinly, evenly sliced to mimick pappardelles pasta, ingenious! What a great whimsical dish. The squid sat atop the same risotto I had.  And, a crowning glory, sat a sweet braised piece of pork. Interesting dish and a very good dish, but my least favorite.






DESSERTS

Île Flottante. (Floating island). This is a very popular French dessert. It's basically a meringue (island), floating on a sea of crème anglaise. This meringue was formed. At first glance I thought it was a creme brulée. Typically the meringues are just scooped onto the dish, but the Chef made it point to make it look more refined, these are the kinds of detail that separate Chefs from cooks. It was covered in a nice caramel sauce, which was a nice accompaniment. I tasted and  it was light, airy and simply delicious.




Fontainebleau aux framboises, râpée de citron vert. (Raspberry cream with lime). Another french classic dessert akin to a  "panne cotta"  Typically this dessert is made with a form of cottage cheese. The dessert was smooth, and the citrus flavor gave it almost a yogurt type of flavor. The citrus and the raspberries definitely were pronounced. And, for added texture, was topped with some cookies that resembled "churros".  Overall a good classic French dessert.




Assiette de fromage. (Cheese plate). And, of course the cheese plate. I told them that I don't eat dessert and they brought out two simple cheeses of Saint-Nectaire cheese and an aged cow cheese. No complaints here.














SUMMARY

Chef Clermont David Rathgeber has quite the pedigree of experiences. He trained under the tutelage of one of the best chefs in the world, Alain Ducasse.  And, has worked at restaurants such as Louis XV in Monaco and Plaza Athénée in Paris. And, to boot he's worked at the Essex House in New York, and several places ;throughout Asia, such as Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.  Now onto the food; what can I say, this is one of the best meals I've had in a very long time. Classical French dishes done "presque parfait" (near perfect) from the simple country entrées and "cocottes", to a very inventive and whimsical squid dish to mimic pappardelle pasta, and the classic French desserts and cheeses. The service was EXCELLENT. Our waiter was very patient and explained the dishes on each menu. It's a neighborhood restaurant without pretentions. But dining is about the whole experience, from the time you make the reservations to the time you leave, and without a doubt, overall it was a wonderful experience. Would I go back? ABSOLUTELY.

They did have quite an extensive wine list, and hefty prices came with it. We ordered a simple rosé from Provence at 36€ a bottle, which was the least expensive of the wines, but in my excitement over the food I forgot to take a photo. But overall, the price point for a near perfect meal is excellent.

With 2-three course prix-fixe, 2-two course prix-fixe, and 2-a la carte and 2-bottles of rosé our bill came to 256€ for 6-people, or close to 43€ per person.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pierre Sang Boyer-- 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+)

3.2 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 3 - Bell


This restaurant is in the "Oberkampf" section of Paris in the 11eme arrondissement. This used to be quite a "gritty" neighborhood and has since been very gentrified. Pierre has two restaurants one on Rue Oberkampf, which we went to, and a few steps on the side street of Rue Gambey also his name sake "Pierre Sang."


The restaurant is actually quite small. There was a long bar as you entered with seats for dining. We sat in the basement section where all the wines were stored. It actually felt like we were dining in a wine cellar which is fine by me. Our table was originally set up for 5, but one more friend decided to join They accommodated us by squeezing in another chair. It was tight, but cozy and happily we were all able to break bread together.

The restaurant has only one 'surprise' tasting menu, there are no choices nor a menu telling you what is coming, but they do ask if you have allergies, and according to our waiter, every two days the menu changes. You can have a 2, 3, or 5 course tasting menu.  We all opted for 3-courses. They serve your meal without telling you what it is, and then ask you what you think it was after you ate it. I'm not sure if this was done with each table or just ours, but regardless it was an interesting concept.

There were no "amuse bouches" that were provided and we immediately got our entrées.

ENTRÉE


Shrimp with a broccoli sauce. A very, very simple dish. The shrimp was grilled and sat atop a puree of broccoli. For added sourness, it had some vinegary red onions, a half of a sour cherry and radishes, and garnish with greens that I'm not familiar with, but the waiter said it was indigenous from the south of France.  It was a good dish, but nothing out of the ordinary.









PLAT


Veal with lentils.  The veal was perfectly cooked and sat atop a bed of lentils.  As a vegetable side it came with a braised bok choy and small cut up haricort vert and beets.  They had a nice heaping of "Gochujang" and our waiter also told us that it was also mixed with pureed kimchi.  The dish was also splattered with wilted arugula. The veal was cooked perfectly, the haricort vert was al-dente, and the bok choy was nicely braised. The gochujang added a nice dimension to the dish with its spiciness. Our waiter was concerned that it was too spicy, silly boy. We told him it could've been spicier, our group all liked spicy food. Overall it was an excellent, well composed dish.


DESSERTS


Apricot ice cream with crumble. A very simple dessert of an apricot ice cream sitting atop a sweet buttery crumble topped off with a lemon creme anglaise and garnished with fresh julienne arugula. And, a nice little surprise of a sugared piece of apricot. My friends who had it said it was very good and enjoyed the differing textures to make it a well balanced dessert.








Cheese plate. I told our waiter up front that I don't eat desserts, but if they had an alternative cheese dish I would take that. I give them credit for this, because it wasn't on their menu but they managed to rustle up some cantal cheese for me, served with a peppery orange marmalade that give it a nice little kick.







WINES

Domaine Pierre Martin 2015 Sancerre.  This is actually one of my favorite whites. This wine is described as being refreshing and has a nice acidity, ripe fruit and a long finish.

Philippe Alliet Chinon. The red drinkers in our group ordered this bottle. A medium red wine that's known for its nice fruity and aromatic nose, with freshness.












SUMMARY

Pierre Sang Boyer became a local celebrity when he finished third in the season 2 of "Top Chef" France.  He was born in Korea, but adopted at the age of 7 by a French family. He actually went back to Korea to find his roots and upon his return infuseed some of the flavors of Asia into his cooking style. Interestingly, other than the gochujang used as a dipping sauce and the bok choy as vegetable side, there was really nothing Asian or any spices that were infused into the dishes that I tasted.  The entrée was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. The plat was excellent and all of us agreed it was a well composed dish. And, the dessert in it's simplicity was very good. One of my pet peeve's is not changing out utensils between courses, and in this was the case between the entrée and plat. In my book, there's just no excuse for this, and as a result I gave them an overall lower rating than I would have normally. Our service was very good though. They were very accommodating when we had to change our number and our waiter was quite friendly and amicable. Overall, I thought the food was above average and the price point was excellent. It's a noisy fun place, and not a place to go for a romantic dinner. The cellar was quite warm, but we noticed later it cooled down, so they must've had an air-conditioner, rare in Paris. Would I go back? for lunch porquoi pas (why not).

For 3-courses and two bottles of wine our bill came to 228€ for 6-people or 38€ a person. An incredibly good price point ratio.