|136 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière|
Tel: +33 1 42 82 92 01
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.