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, May 27, 2016

Les Arlots -- Restaurant Review



136 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière
75010 Paris
Tel: 
+33 1 42 82 92 01
Closed Sundays/Mondays
Metro: Gare du Nord (Metro 4 &5)

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


At the recommendation of our friend J we headed to the 10eme, which is an up and coming area not only for dining, but also where a "happening" scene is starting to emerge.


The restaurant is quite small and compact, there's about 27-seats with a private seating area of 4 in the back, but I found that area to be a little claustrophobic so try and get seats by the window. Interestingly, they don't have a wine list per se, you basically tell the "sommelier" what you're having for lunch or dinner, and he'll make recommendations. I must say, for a small restaurant they had quite an impressive selection.


As many of you know, I like small menus, and this is what they had, but they did have a nice diverse selection. Maybe it's my own prejudices, but I find with a small menu they can concentrate on making each meal good/excellent versus having a lot on their plate, excuse the pun, and it coming out mediocre. They had a great deal for a prix-fixe for 17€ for 2-courses and 20€ for 3-courses.


We started out with an amuse bouche of a mille-feuille pastry topped with a paté and pickled radishes, sweetened with honey. For a small "tease" I must say it hit all the tasting notes of the palette. We agreed this was a good start and good sign what was to follow.











ENTRÉE




Petite concombres façon les arlots (Small cucumbers Arlot's way).  Hidden underneath the cucumbers was a little mound of egg salad. There was a citrus vinaigrette in the cucumber.  In its simplicity this entrée was a very good, well composed dish.



Velouté d’asperges et petits pois fromage frais.  (Cream of asparagus with peas and fromage frais). This was "gazpacho" style soup; however, made with asparagus and peas. I liked this dish a lot. It was a refreshing dish and despite it having a dollop of "fromage frais" it was not rich. It was in fact quite balanced textually, with smooth components as well as chunky pieces of asparagus and a nice crouton crumble for an added dimension. Overall, we loved this dish.






PLATS




Cuisse de canard longuement confit pommes sautées à l’ail des ours (Duck leg confit fried potatoes with ramps).  Another very well composed dish. The duck was moist and tender, and well seasoned with garlic. The accompanying potatoes were perfectly crispy on the outside and had a tender and moist interior.



Cabillaud vapeur, mouse de carottes épicées et vinaigrette citron - origan. (Steamed cod, foamed spicy carrot, flavored with lemon vinaigrette & oregano). Another simple, well executed dish.  The cod was extremely moist and even though the title of the dish would imply spiciness, the spices were actually subtle and did not overwhelm the natural flavors of the fish. There was a nice textural element to the dish as well with the creamy carrots, peas and a nice crispy component of fried carrot strips. A good composed dish.


Entrecôte matures, pommes sautées à l'ail des ours, sauce vin rouge. (Mature steak, roasted potatoes with ramps, red wine sauce).  What can be more classic French traditional than steak and potatoes. I was craving a good steak and they did not disappoint. I am probably thought of as a heathen in France, since most French like their steaks very rare. I like mine "a point" which is a medium rare. Undoubtedly grass fed, which can sometimes be tough, I have to say the aging of the steak helped tenderize the meat, the steak had a nicely charred exterior and perfectly cooked to my liking. The wine sauce was a nice accompaniment and the potatoes with the crunchy exterior and moist interior made this simple classic dish a hit with me.


DESSERTS

Faisselle au miel et fruits frais. (Honey and fresh fruit with cottage cheese). Basically, this was a fruit salad, but not your mother's fruit salad. It was a little more exotic with kiwi fruit, pomegranate, oranges and a sweet crunchy crumble, and hidden under this fruit was a nice smooth cottage cheese with the sweetness of honey. Even though this by no means was a fancy dessert, it was a very tasty, refreshing excellent dessert.







Cinq cents feuilles caramel, chocolat et whisky. (Five hundred sheets caramel, chocolate and whiskey). There was a little humor injected in this dish, 500 versus what we know as "mille-feuille" (a thousand sheets of thin puff pastry). Basically, this was a "napoleon". The combination of the chocolate and caramel balanced and complimented other well and in its simplicity was a very good dessert.





As for the wines that our sommelier, Tristan Renoux selected, they were excellent. His suggestion of a Chenin white which is a versatile white-wine grape variety that has been cultivated in France for nearly 1300 years and is often described as a light, honeyed, full-bodied, still white wine. And, a Unlitro Tuscan red often described as tasting of soft cherry, a Burgundy style, elegant and balanced, with a soft mouthfeel both were excellent choices for our meal.










I had an opportunity to meet the Chef, Thomas Brachet previously having worked at Maison Blanche and the Beef Club. Hmm, that explains why the steak was so perfectly cooked.  He was quite jovial and anxious and proud to show me his kitchen, and I was duly impressed how well organized it was considering the size.

SUMMARY

I would encourage my readers to venture out into the different neighborhoods. Don't be deceived by it's small tight quarters and location, this is an excellent restaurant. There's something to be said about simple, basic, and unpretentious food done well.  If done wrong, it can be just like any other bistro catering to the throngs of tourist, but this is a neighborhood restaurant in an upcoming area of the 10eme arrondissement. The staff are amazingly nice and attentive. Although a noisy restaurant and not a restaurant you want to go to for a romantic dinner, as far as bistros go, this is one of the best I discovered this year. So, if you're craving excellent French comfort food, then I highly recommend this restaurant. Would we go back, ABSOLUTELY.

With an amuse bouche, three 3-course meals, one 2-course meal, 2-coffees with 2 excellent bottles of wine, and 1 complimentary armagnac, our bill came to 151.80€ for 4-people, or 37.90 a person, extremely reasonable.








Thursday, May 26, 2016

Aux Crus de Bourgogne -- Restaurant Review


3 Rue Bachaumont
75002 Paris
tel: +33 1 42 33 48 24
Metro: Étienne Marcel (4), Sentier (3)


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......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell

The restaurant is located in the heart of the Montorgueil section of Paris in the 2eme. It has transformed from a once gritty neighborhood to be become a hot trendy spot in Paris with beautiful shops, produce, cafes and dotted with a variety of different restaurants.


The interior was old school dark woods, original moldings and very French.  A nice size restaurant and cozy enough.


At first glance, they had quite an extensive menu of traditional french dishes and they seemed reasonably priced. However, the wine list was not reasonably priced. In fact, the lowest priced wine I saw was 42€. So, we ordered the Sancerre rosé, I don't mind spending 42€ for a bottle of wine, but when the wine starts to turn it's a little hard to stomach, literally. We took a taste and I initially said fine, but when we kept on tasting it started to have an off putting taste. We asked the waiter, and he told us it was fine and that's the way it's suppose to taste. Now we have to confess, a lot of us at the table are very familiar with Sancerre rosé, and this was not a good bottle.

ENTRÉES

Escargot.  I had the escargot, it was good, but nothing out of the ordinary; what I found interesting was that it was served along with a small bottle of pastis (licorice type of liquor) with a dropper and the idea was that you drop a little bit of the pastis into the escargot. Gimmicky, but it did add a nice layer of flavor, and overall I liked the dish, it was good, but nothing out of the ordinary.







Two had the "half" crab salad as an entrée/plat. The salad did not wow anyone. It was just a salad topped off with a crab in the shell. I tasted the "crab tamale or otherwise known as the mustard" and it was flavorful, but the salad itself was nothing out of the ordinary.









There were two other entrées ordered, but again nothing out of the ordinary. A carpaccio of champignions (thin slices of mushrooms), and a small green salad.


PLATS


We had the "Boeuf Bourgignon" a French classic. Overall, the dish was good, but again, nothing out of the ordinary.  The beef was cooked nice and tender and in its simplicity it was a good wholesome traditional dish.












SUMMARY

The restaurant is in a great location. A very typically, quaint Parisian neighborhood, albeit quite lively, hip and happening.  The restaurant harkened back to the days of the what you would picture an old bistro would be. Overall the food was OK, but really nothing special. Although gimmicky with the "pastis and dropper" my favorite dish was the escargot. The salad was just that. And, the boeuf bourguignon although good was nothing special. We opted not to order dessert. What was a real turn off was that the waiter would not acknowledge that our wine was bad, and considering the price of the wine was very disheartening.  Therefore, they would've gotten a better rating from us, had they changed out the bottle of wine.

Would we go back? probably not.


With 5-entrees, 3-plats, 1-bottled water, 5-coffees, and a bottle of Sancerre rosé our bill came to 214.50€ or 42.90€ each.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Canard & Champagne -- Restaurant Review


57 passage des panoramas
75002 Paris
Tel: 09 81 83 95 69
Metro: Richlieu-Dourout (8,9), Grand Boulevards (8,9)
webiste: http://frenchparadox.paris/fr/

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+)

3.10 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell

One of the things I love about Paris are all the secret gems, well they're not really secret, but gems none-the-less. This is one of many passages throughout Paris. This restaurant is located in the "Passage des Panoramas" in the 2eme arrondissement.


The interior is quite lovely, and there were a few tables out in passage itself. We had a table by the window. It's a great people watching restaurant.  There are shared tables as well as tables for 4. The tables are set high with eclectic bar stools. Once seated you're fine, but they were very impractical bar stools. They were difficult to get into and to get off of, and not easily adjustable, nor were they easy to maneuver. But, all-in-all it's a lovely quaint restaurant.


It was a rainy day the day we went, so lucky for us the interior of the passage was a nice refuge from the rain, and also a great place to wander before or after your meal to window shop and as I mentioned, just people watch.

Well as the name implies, their specialty is "canard (duck) and champagne".  They didn't have a large menu, but sufficient. As many know, I prefer small menus to large menus. I prefer fewer items done well, versus lots of things done mediocre. Aside from the canard, they did had a swordfish special the day we went and they also have a steak option. We opted to have what they're known for, duck.

They had a "formule" or prix-fixe menu for 26€ which included an entrée and plat. We were 4 and to start off 3 had the "coupe de champagne" which was a reasonable price of 8€ a glass.

ENTRÉE


For the entrée you had a choice of "Foie gras with chutney" or a salad. We all opted for the foie gras. How can you go wrong with a foie gras for an entrée. The foie gras was very good and partially encrusted with black pepper. It came with a toasted slice of baguette and a sweet apple/raisin chutney.  It was nothing out of the ordinary, but it was a nice start, albeit heavy.










PLATS

Confit de canard.  This dish was developed before refrigeration. The French would slow cook the duck, typically the legs,  in its own fat, and once cooled it is stored in the fat to preserve it. And, when needed, they would just pull pieces of the duck, and either quickly pan fry it, grill it, or broil it. Characteristically, this dish can be slightly salty. As simple as this dish is to prepare, it can be horrible if not prepared right. In fact, if over-cooked it can become stringy, or if under-cooked the skin can be extremely soggy and just plain fatty. This duck was cooked well and it tasted good, with the characteristic saltiness from the preservation.


Magret de Canard (duck breast). The waiter did tell us that this dish is cooked the Chef's way. Meaning, you don't have a choice whether you want it e.g.., medium or medium well.  Duck can be cooked rare versus chicken which needs to be well done. The general reason behind this is that duck has a very, very thick skin with a thick layer of fat, so during the butchering process, the chances for cross contamination is minimal, whereas with chicken the skin is thin and cross contamination is high.  The duck breast was cooked "pink" as is typically done in France. Although it was very tasty, I found it a bit rubbery and tough. Personally, I think it could have been cooked a tad longer.

Our plats were accompanied with fries, which were delicious, sweet pureed carrots and some mixed vegetables.


DESSERTS

They had quite the selection of desserts. From my understanding, the restaurant offers just desserts. So, if you'd like a nice place to just have some desserts and/or coffee, you can come here.  We opted to share a the "tarte citron meringuée, sorbet citron basilic" and the cheese plate.


Tarte citron meringuée, sorbet citron basilic. (lemon tarte with meringue, and a lemon sorbet with basil). Hmm, I thought this looked interesting. The waiter later came by to explain that this was a "deconstructed" lemon tart. Personally I thought it was quite creative in that the Chef thought outside the box. There was of course a layer of crust. The sorbet was nice and tart and you can definitely taste the hint of basil. With this and the cooked meringue, the dessert almost reminded me of a "vacherin dessert"  Overall, it was a good dessert, but nothing extraordinary.

Assortiment de fromages (assortment of cheeses).  Like I always say, you can't go wrong with cheeses in France. This place was no exception. They gave a nice range of different cheeses, my favorite was the blue cheese.












SUMMARY

The restaurant is in a quaint beautiful location with criss-crossing passages where you can explore different shops and restaurant. I would imagine this is what the malls of the 18th century would've looked like.  The restaurant itself was quite cute and quaint, with regular tables on the outside and bar height tables in the inside, some shared.  Overall, I found the food good, but nothing out of the ordinary. As their name implies they serve duck and champagne. The champagne list was quite extensive and also quite expensive by the bottle, but they did have some reasonable "coupes" (by the glass).  The foie gras was very good, the confit de canard was very good. Although it was good, the margret de canard was my least favorite. The desserts were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. Service was very good. The prix-fixe were reasonably priced. I slightly bumped up my overall rating because of the "cool factor" location and ambience. Would I go back? absolutely, even if just for the location and ambience.

With a bottled water, 3-coupes de champagne, 4-prix-fixe menus, 2-bottles of rosé, and 2-desserts our bill came to 212.50€ or 53.13€ per person.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kult -- Restaurant Review



3 Rue du Pré aux Clercs
75007 Paris
Tel: 01 42 96 65 43
Website: http://www.restaurant-kult.fr/
(Check website for operating hours)
Bus: 39, 95.  Metro 12 (Rue de Bac), 4 (Saint Germain de Près)

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

3.75 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell

Came here with some friends for lunch. The restaurant is located in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area in the Saint Hotel.


It's a great upscale location and the interior of the restaurant is very, very sleek. There were banquettes along the walls with cushions and were actually quite comfortable. I was a bit surprised it wasn't as busy as I had expected it to be.



They did not have a prix-fixe menu, but the prices for lunch seemed quite reasonable.


































ENTRÉES




Tartare de thon albacore/betteraves/sésame. (Yellowfin tuna tartare/beets/sesame).   My friend loves all things beets and this dish did not disappoint. There was a nice proportion of tuna and beets, overall a good dish.










Daurade marinée/clementines/tandoori. (Sea bream marinated / clementines / tandoori). I thought this dish was a really good dish. And, it actually had a little kick to it at the end of each bite. I'm not sure where the "tandoori" came in other than it might've been the spice used to give that little kick. But it pretty much hit all the taste components in your mouth with sour, sweet, and heat.  Overall it was a very delicious composed entrée.




Asperges de couleurs/pesto basilic/lard di colonanata. (Asparagus color / basil pesto / bacon di colonanata).  Asparagus is in season. I liked this dish a lot.  I'm not sure why it's called "color asparagus.  I did get some white and green asparagus, but none-the-less, the asparagus was perfectly cooked and frisée added a nice fresh crunchy component. I happen to like "lardo di colonata" it's basically pork fat used in flavoring, but the accompanying saltiness brought the dish to new level, adding a nice creamy salty component.  Overall this was our favorite entrée.


PLATS

Steack de thon/quinoa/sauce vierge. (Steak tuna / quinoa / virgin sauce). This was a good simple dish. The waiter did ask my friend how she would like her tuna, and she asked for it rare, which came out as she requested. The tuna was good, but my friend said that the accompanying quinoa was very bland. Personally, I didn't understand the plating, it was very lopsided. And, the rainbow beet seemed like an after thought because it was oddly placed.


Saumon en papillote/choux kale/Huile d’olives kalios.  (Salmon en papillote / cabbage kale / Olive oil kalios).  I liked this dish a lot. Sometimes, the hardest dishes to cook are the simplest. The salmon was neither undercooked nor over overcooked. Had I not known it was cooked   "en papillote" I would've sworn it was cooked "sous vide" since it was so moist and tender. It was not a complicated dish, basically salmon garnished with a few olives and frisée, overall very good.



Risotto aux gambas et lait de coco. (Risotto with prawns and coconut milk).  I have had many risottos in my life-time, but I've never had it cooked in coconut milk, so not only was I anxious to taste it, but I was also suspicious, because growing up we had sweet coconut milk with rice as a dessert, not as a savory component in a dish other than curries.  After tasting it, I am now a believer. Coconut milk can be overwhelming, and sometimes even too sweet. But it was a delicious dish, and the saltiness and taste of the prawns complimented the dish. I give credit to the Chef for thinking outside of the box on this dish. This was our favorite plat.


DESSERTS

Avocats/Kiwi a la violette/meringue. (Avocados / Kiwi violet / meringue). In most southeast Asian countries, avocados are used as a dessert rather than in a savory dish such as guacamole. I've seen avocado ice cream and other avocado desserts in San Francisco and other places around the world, but this is the first time I've seen it in Paris. So, I was anxious to taste a little of it. It was a very simple fresh dessert. Not overwhelmingly sweet, and the avocado was a nice compliment to the kiwi, and the textural component of the meringue was a nice touch. So, kudos again for the Chef for once again thinking outside of the box.

Assiette de fromage. (Cheese plate). As I always say, you can't go wrong with cheeses in France, and this was no exception. They had a nice selection of cheeses.






Dessert chocolat kumquat/feuillantine. (Dessert chocolate kumquat / feuillantine). My friend liked this dessert. I wasn't a fan of it. I found the feuillantine, a heavy mousse, too, too dense, heavy and rich. I have a personal bias for lighter desserts. The kumquats were good and the sprinkling of "brick" a sort of crispy phyllo dough added a nice textural element.




SUMMARY

The restaurant is in a great location; as for the interior there's nothing that says you're in Paris. In fact, you could be in any restaurant in the US. Where it lacked in Parisian charm, it was a visually sleek and appealing. And, the seats were very comfortable. It had a very "hotel" like atmosphere, but then again it is connected to a hotel.  And, when you entered the restaurant you see shelves of different wines and assume they'd have quite the selection. They do, unfortunately the prices of the wines are not easy on the budget. I never buy expensive wines because it's lost on me, since I'm not a wine connoisseur. So, I did search out for the affordable wines, which they were out of? So we settled for a Vouvray for 32€ a bottle.

Onto the food. Overall I thought the food was very good and well above average. The entrées were very good, with the asparagus our favorite, followed by the daurade, and beets. All were well executed and tasty.  The plat that stood out for us was the risotto with coconut. And, although it was a very simple dish, the coconut milk brought the risotto to a whole new level. My least favorite dish was the tuna and quinoa, which was good, but lacked any real flavor. And, as for the dessert, the Chef once again thought outside of the box and used avocado, kudos to him.   And, the chocolate, although my friend liked it, it's more a personal preference me for, I don't like heavy desserts. Would I go back, absolutely.



With 3-full courses each and 2 bottles of Vouvray our bill came to a total of 198€ or 66€ each for 3-people




Sunday, May 8, 2016

Chez Mademoiselle -- 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+)

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


We've been wanting to try a restaurant that wasn't French, and discovered this restaurant by accident. It's a Russian restaurant in our quartier (district), 15eme and lucky us, in walking distance of our apartment. So, we went there for lunch.



It was an absolutely warm beautiful day. I like the interior of the restaurant. The theme color was red and gold. I felt like I was in a bordello, but I sort of like the gaudiness and the color combination. Thankfully, it wasn't too warm because there was no cross-breeze in the restaurant, and I can only imagine how hot it must get in that restaurant in the summer, since I saw no air-conditioning, but then again, air-conditioning is rare in Paris.



They had a prix-fixe lunch menu and the prices were reasonable.  You choose your dishes from the menu.  They also had a nice wine list.
















ENTRÉES




Borscht soup.  JJ ordered this soup. Borscht soup can be served hot or cold. From my understanding borscht soup is normally served hot in Russia and in the Eastern European countries, whereas in the US, it can be served cold. On this particular day I wish it had been served cold, but it was hot. Rather than thickening the soup with either the fiber from the beets or another thickening agent, the soup was very "brothy." It did come with a side of sour cream that you could use to thicken it up. I tasted it with and without the sour cream. Either way, the soup was extremely bland. Not a favorite of ours.



Eggplants/Tomatoes. The menu actually read "mille feuille" (puff pastry) of eggplants and tomatoes. However, there was no pastry to be found anywhere. I think they meant the description to be more figurative than anything else. You be the judge, based on the photo. It was actually quite refreshing in its simplicity. In between the lawyers of cooked eggplant rounds and tomatoes was sour cream and parsley, but it also had a nice kick of red peppers that hit you later. I liked it, but it was nothing out of the ordinary, except for the kick at the end.


PLATS

Beef stroganoff. As Americans know, this is pretty much a staple in most of the U.S., especially if you live in an area predominantly settled by Eastern Europeans. Interestingly, it was served over a bed of rice. I mentioned to the owner that in the U.S. beef stroganoff is normally served atop egg noodles, not rice. He said in Russia it's normally served over potatoes not rice nor noodles; interesting.  I didn't mind it over rice, because I love rice. The beef stroganoff was quite good. It had a nice creamy texture and a nice healthy helping of mushrooms. It also had a very pepper taste, which I liked. The dish is extremely rich, in fact if you're lactose intolerant, I would not recommend this dish. Our wait-person came by and I told her it was good, but rich and she just smiled, well it's Russian, it's normal to be rich.

Skewered lamb. JJ had the lamb. Basically, they were brochettes of lamb served over rice pilaf. In general, it was a very simple basic dish of meat and rice. The rice pilaf had carrots and parsley. Although fair, it was nothing out of the ordinary.








DESSERTS

Since my plat was extremely rich and heavy, I had absolutely no room for any kind of dessert. On the other hand, JJ had varenykys (pierogies) stuffed with cherries.  I've had quite a few pierogies in my life-time, but have never had a dessert pierogies.  The dough was characteristically pierogies, thick and doughy. This was a warm dessert. I did taste it, it is not a light dessert, definitely heavy. The cherries were characteristically tart, but was countered by a very, very sweet sauce.  Personally, not a favorite dessert of mine, it was just too heavy.


SUMMARY

Don't expect haute cuisine from this restaurant. It is what it is. A Russian restaurant that serves basic rustic Russian food. Albeit rich, the beef stroganoff was delicious. The lamb fair, and the eggplant/tomatoes in its simplicity was good. The misses for me was the borscht and the pierogies of cherries.

Over-all the restaurant served above fair food. So, if you're craving rustic Russian home cooking, this may be a restaurant for you. For 2-glasses of chablis, 1-glass of red wine, 1-full prix-fixe lunch, and 1-two course prix fixe and 1-coffee, our bill came to 88.50€ for two people.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Restaurant Review -- Restaurant l'Inconnu


4 Rue Pierre Leroux
75007 Paris
Tel: 01 53 69 06 03
Metro : Vaneau (line 10), Duroc (lines 10,13)
website: http://restaurant-linconnu.fr/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......................................................€€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell


A good friend organized a luncheon at this well known restaurant in the 7eme. It's a very, very staid building with little signage, but it stands out in contrast to the surrounding light colored brick buildings.

“L’inconnu” means : Someone you don’t know, Something unknown, An experience you’ve never got..." (refer to their mission statement on their website)



I have to say, the tables were nicely laid out, very spacious, very unusual in Paris.  It wasn't overly decorated, simple and staid, sort of like its exterior.


They had a very eclectic menu.  There was a "degustation" pre-fixe menu for 50€, and a lesser "degustation" for 38€ with a 5€ supplement if you wanted to add meat versus fish for one of the courses.  With the exception of JJ who selected the 50€ "degustation", we all opted for the 38€ "degustation". You could also order just an entrée and a pasta dish for 24€.



Interestingly, they served us a pan baked bread rather than a typical baguette. We all loved the bread. It was a moist white bread, but a slightly crunchy top with chunks of salt and topped with a swirl of whipped herbs. One word, delicious.


For the an amuse bouche, we had the "coulis de carotte".  Well this was a nice surprise. The carrot had 2-components, the top layer was a mousse like consistency, extremely light and airy with very subtle wisps of carrot, but not sweet, and served cold.  As you reached the bottom of the little tasting cup, you got a nice surprise, a thick creamy carrot mash, but sweet. This was definitely a big hit with the juxtaposition of the light savory of the mousse, and then the thicker carrot at the bottom. We loved this dish.







SAVORY "DEGUSTATIONS"

Seasoned bread crumbs with a potato mash, accompanied with a pancake and green leafy vegetables which the waiter said was haricot vert, which made no sense, since it was leafy. JJ had this extra course not on the menu. I tasted this dish. I actually did not like this dish at all. It tasted like you were eating seasoned bread crumbs. The bread crumbs were overwhelming. It was a poorly composed dish, almost like an after-thought, since we later saw the same crumbs used on a dish as a textural garnish. However, JJ did like the pancake with the greens.














Asperge blanche confite, sabayon de carbonare, castelfranco. (White asparagus with a cream of carbonara sauce). We all loved this. The asparagus were perfectly cooked and the same bread crumbs JJ had in his dish were properly used this time. It was added to give the dish a textural element.  Overall, it was a very well composed dish.










Cabillaud poêle, petits pois, pois gourmand, navet. (Pan cooked cod, with peas, snap peas and turnips). For those who had this dish, they thought the fish was perfectly cooked, very moist and the pureed peas was a nice accompaniment to a simple but well executed dish. Overall, a good dish.











Pintade rôtie asperge verte, civette.  (Roast guinea fowl, green asparagus and chives).  I chose this dish over the fish dish, and I'm glad I did. For whatever reason, there was a 5€ supplementary, which was well worth it. We got two nice pieces and the skin was nice and crispy. The interior was extremely moist and tender. The only minor complaint I have is that this dish was was a bit sweet. My guess is they added honey. But overall, it was a very well thought out and composed dish, and extremely colorful and beautifully presented.



Spaghetti bolognaise, brocolis. (Spaghetti bolognese, broccoli).   It's definitely not your traditional bolognese sauce since it wasn't as "tomato-y". Overall, I thought the dish was OK. The pasta was cooked al-dente, but I found the pasta a bit on the grainy side. I would surmise that the pasta had more semolina or maybe all semolina to give it that texture. For JJ, he found the dish very salty, for the rest of us we liked the saltiness of the dish. Overall, it was a good dish.

DESSERTS


Pavlova agrumes. (Citrus pavlova). It was a very, very simple dessert of grapefruit sorbet, citrus fruit and garnished with a sugary thin creamy wafers. Nothing out of the ordinary, but simple, refreshing and good.













Tiramisu à la banane. (Banana tiramisu). This was a traditional tiramisu with a twist, it was flavored with bananas and the traditional liquor flavoring would've been marsala wine, but in this case it was a sweet liqueur, which our friend wasn't sure what type, but she loved the dessert.







Assiette de fromage. (Cheese plate). They did not have this on the menu. I told them upfront that I do not eat desserts, so they made a special plate of cheese for me. A creamy vache cheese and a blue cheese. Like I always say, you can't go wrong with cheese in France. So, I was a happy camper.




Their wine selection were mostly from Italy. Although it was a nice list, they were not inexpensive. The lowest price wine was 40€.  For our wine we selected a Champagnes vireos chardonnay vie di romans,  A nice and balanced chardonnay great with seafood and vegetables since it has bright and fresh notes,  but enough straw and earth to keep it from being too astringent.  And, JJ had a glass of valpolicella, a red wine with some fruit, medium bodied wine, which he really liked.










And, when we thought all was said and done they gave is a parting favors of sweet little tidbits. Interestingly they almost looked like little various sushi.



SUMMARY 

The restaurant setting was very simple, probably because the Chef wanted to concentrate more on the food. Typical of the Japanese Chefs, they have a great sensibility of how food is presented. He was no exception. The food was beautifully plated.

Now onto the food. The food was all over the board. There was some excellent dishes such as the "Coulis de carotte" and "pintade", good dishes as in most of the others, and one I found absurd (bread crumb course). They do have a resident sommelier who also doubled as our wait person intermittently.  What I found strange was that after everyone finished with their amuse bouche, I wasn't and was actually still holding it in my hand, and the sommelier/waiter wanted to pull it from my hand, and I told him I wasn't finished? I found this extremely odd.  Now JJ did have 2-extra courses, so I can see them removing his plate sooner than the rest of us, to keep up with their timing, which did happen. Minus the odd quirks, the service was excellent.

Their mission statement is that they will be making unusual combinations and ingredients out of ordinary dishes with an Italian foundation,  However, we found nothing out of the ordinary, unusual, Italian, or "unknown."

I thought it was a slightly above average restaurant, and I give them good marks for accommodating me since I don't eat desserts, that scores big points in my book, since most places would not have accommodated me. Would I go back, sure, pourquoi pas (why not).

With 4 prix-fixe 38€ with two 5€ supplements, and 1 prix-fixe 50€, a bottle of wine, a glass of wine, and 2-coffees and 1-tea, our total bill came to 291.50€ for 5-people.