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)!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Don Juan II dinner cruise -- Restaurant Review


Port Henri IV 75004 Paris
Limousine service available upon request (recommend Uber or Taxi)
Open: Dinner every night from 7:45 pm to 11:15 pm
Website for practical information: 
http://donjuan2.yachtsdeparis.fr/index.cfm/page/LID/2/RID/3717/

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+)


4.75 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 2 - Bell
(Disclaimer: It is a very expensive boat cruise)


I love Paris for our spontaneity. We were invited to join some friends on a dinner river cruise. I've done a few, but wanted to go more for the continuing visit we were having with our lovely new friends more than the dinner itself. But I was later surprised how truly excellent this river cruise is.



The top deck was cozy and more romantic than touristy. As the evening progressed, blankets were provided.



The ship is small and very intimate.  The maximum capacity of the dining room is 40 people. We were about 20. It appears it's a special place you go to celebrate a special event. In fact, there were several couples who were celebrating a birthday. We weren't celebrating, but none-the-less it felt like it was something special with special friends.



We had drinks on the deck at sunset. We were served some hors d'oeuvres with drinks on the deck. The hors d'oeuvres I thought were steaming, like dim sum, much to our surprise they were actually chilled and the "smoke" was from the dry ice. A pleasant surprise of the visual as well as taste. They were small morsels of a molecular composition of peas and carrots. Tasted great with our drinks and was not heavy, but cool and light.












Entrée #1. The Peas and Lemon, soybean wheat tuile. It wasn't heavy but packed with flavors. The creamed peas actually covered some heavenly smoked salmon. Before you got to the salmon there were pieces of very al-dente fresh peas; in fact they may even have been raw, but delicious. I don't know how the chef was able to make the wafers so thin, but they were paper thin. We were served various breads, with sweet butter and a seaweed butter that was just out of this world. What intrigued me were the plates. It looked like there was gold leaf on the plate, but they were actually gold encrusted in the porcelain itself. Quite elegant.


Entrée #2. The Langoustine with Southern flavors, infused and chilled tomato water. the simplicity of this dish made every element work well together. Sometimes langoustines can be overcooked and rubbery, but this was perfectly cooked, moist and succulent. Great 2nd entrée. After this entrée, I couldn't wait to see what was to follow.










Plats. The Champagne Chicken cooked two-ways with courgette flower. Talk about a moist chicken, this chicken breast was perfect. It's always been French philosophy to cook e.g., fowl to taste like a fowl, in other words natural and simple. It was probably one of the most moist chicken breasts I ever had. Then when the maitre'd poured the demi-glace it really brought the chicken to the next level. It sat atop some thin slices of zucchini. The second chicken was the dark part of the chicken chopped roughly with other vegetables encased in the zucchini flower. The dark chicken had a lot of flavor, but wasn't overwhelming. What didn't work for me was the slice of cheese over the dark meat. They could've done away with it. It really didn't add anything aesthetically nor enhance the taste. What I loved about this dish was the contrast of 2-different chickens cooked 2-different ways. It was also accompanied with a tiny metallic cup of puréed mixed greens topped with parmesan.


Cheese. Like a Fontainebleau, caramel relish, nuts.  When the cheese arrived, I thought how odd, they must've made a mistake because it looked like whip cream. So I tasted it, and it does taste pretty much like creme fraîche, but in reality fontainebleau cheese is like a mild cream cheese. After digging into this dish I really started getting into it,  the more I dug the more surprises. The nuts with the caramel bits at the bottom and the thin gold shavings, made it really special and a truly light cheese course. A new experience for me, since I typically have different slices of firmer, richer cheese.



Dessert. The Scintillante : variations on chocolate and raspberries. I don't normally eat desserts for health reasons, but the devil made me eat it tonight.  When it was served, it was covered with a bowl and sat atop what I thought was the handle, later turned out to be a chocolate bonbon filled with sherbet.  I just have one word for this, DELICIOUS. I love bitter sweet chocolate, but this must've been 70% or higher dark cocoa. The plate was encrusted with a gold Eiffel tower. And, the sauces were dotted a long the side. This was a rich dessert but at the same time very light. It had a light chocolate ganache and wafers of rich, rich chocolate. And, when I bit into the chocolate bonbon, which was more of a milk chocolate, it was sublime. Needless to say this dessert was a hit.

We did have some "mignardises" (parting sweets) of various chocolates and nougats; unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of it. But basically there was a tray that came out with various chocolates, I think every chocolate that France makes. It was pretty abundant. You selected what you wanted. I decided I wanted to savor the dessert I had previously so I skipped the "mignardises".




I have to mention the breads, they had quite the variety. I especially loved the bread sticks, because they were so light.


Wines. Sancerre.  I wasn't able to take a photo of this, because as soon as they poured,  they whisked it away to keep it child. But true to its nature, the Sancerre is the most recognizable appellation for French Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley. Has a characteristic tasting notes of ripe gooseberry aromas, strong acidity, and flinty-smoke flavors. Needless to say, it was a great accompaniment, since we did have relatively, light delicate dishes.


SUMMARY

What an absolutely fabulous experience. As I mentioned this is a smaller dinner cruise, very upscale and a lot of attention has been paid to not only the ambiance, but the service. The service was beyond reproach. At the beginning we had apéros on deck, as it cooled they brought out blankets. And, of course as you went along the Seine you had great views. They did not have that glaring loud speaker describing every single juncture. They did, however, provide a little card with a map of the Seine with points of interest. The food was near perfect. The chef definitely had some whimsy with e.g., the trick of dim sum that was actually cold, and the contrast of different textures "Ying-Yang", e.g., the 2-types of chicken, the creamy peas contrasted with the whole raw peas. This dinner cruise is a winner, but by no means inexpensive. Would we go back?  absolutely, but first I'll have to save my centimes.

The fixed cost for the dinner and cruise is 220€, which includes all the food. Libations including water are additional. So, for 7-courses (included the hors d'oeuvres, chocolates), 2-bottles of Sancere, 2-bottles of water. Our bill came to 1,096€ for 4-people or 274€ ($323) per person. So this is not inexpensive.









Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ristorantino Shardana -- Restaurant Review


134 Rue du Theatre, 75015
Open for lunch & Dinner Monday-Saturday 
Tel: 06 25 19 53 07
Metro (8) Commerce
website: https://www.ristorantinoshardana.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+)


3.25 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2 - Bell



Our close friend Marie walks by this restaurant a lot and has been wanting to try so we jumped at the chance when she said she wanted to go and would we be interested. It's in our neighborhood in the 15eme off of Rue du Commerce.


This restaurant is a really, tiny, but a cozy restaurant. There are only 22 seats in the whole restaurant. Our wait-person told us that the restaurant had actually been open for about 2-years, how did we miss this?


We perused the menu. As typical with most Italian style restaurants you have an appetizer (entrée), a pasta dish, and a protein dish (fish, meat or fowl), and of course followed by dessert. There was no way we could eat the typical Italian meal and include pasta as well, so we opted for an entrée and a plat principal (main), which in our case would be a pasta dish.

A little bit about Sardinia that I learned about. First of all Sardinia is the 2nd largest island in the Mediterranean. They had their own culture and language similar to "old latin", but as integration happened, Italian unified them into Italy, but with a regional dialect and some differences in cuisine.  One distinguishing feature of their cuisine from mainland Italy is their fondness for beans, e.g., lentils, lava, chick peas, etc. And, in Italy they are known for their cheeses, and they are the main exporters of cavallo cheese (a type of caciocavallo) and salso cheese (a salted sheep’s cheese like pecorino cheese), and used widely in flavoring and adding to dishes. Interestingly though, since they are close to the ocean, you would think that their cuisine would be more from the ocean, not the mountains as what happened, so sheep etc., were favored. This has changed dramatically over the years and seafood is now a main source of their diet.



We were given a regular baguette and then their local bread called, Pane Carasau or Carta da Musica It's a Sardinian bread, shaped into thin disks, almost like flat round matzo bread. It is believed that it was made so shepherds in Sardinia could take them to the pastures since they keep well. I got one that was a tad soggy, but the next one was nice and crispy. I rather enjoyed it.


ENTRÉES

Charcuterie de sardine. (Cold cuts) Our wait-person told us that they actually serve 2-additional charcuterie, but today they only had the sliced smoked ham and salami. Jack said that was fine. Both were delicious, especially the ham. It was a nice mellow ham akin to Iberica jambon, but not aged as long. And, the salami was also good.










Cerveau de veau frit avec salade de asperges et mayonnaise à la moutarde et poivre vert. (Fried veal brain with asparagus salad and mayonnaise with mustard and green pepper). I liked this dish. Who doesn't like fried croquettes of veal brain? The asparagus was sliced thinly and a perfect accompaniment. The mayonnaise was delicious and not overwhelming. Only minor complaint I have is that it was overly breaded for my taste. But other than that a nice all around entrée.





Poulpe soutes a la poêle avec creme de courgette et petit tomate confit. (Octopus in the pan with courgette cream and small tomato confit). The octopus was perfectly cooked. It was slightly smoky and charred. Now this is the problem with this dish was for me. The zucchini sauce was overly salted. And, the octopus was also salted, but worked well had it been on its own. Keep in mind, I have a very high tolerance for salt, but I could not even finish the sauce and just ate the octopus. I understand having a heavy hand salting e.g., pork, but vegetables? So, this was not a hit for me at all. It would've been perfect had the chef not have a heavy hand with the salt. So, this was a miss.




PLATS



Linguine palourdes, moules et asperges. (Linguine clams, mussels and asparagus). In its simplicity this dish was a good dish. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the shellfish were not overdone and quite succulent. The asparagus still had a nice crunch to it, so overall a good dish, but nothing out of the ordinary.



Paccheri avec creme de aubergine fumeé et ragoût blanc de porc. (Paccheri pasta with smoked eggplant cream and white pork stew). I ordered this dish and I liked it a lot. The fat round pasta was stuffed with a mild pork and the creaminess of the eggplant with cheeses just made this a very, very flavorful dish. They did give us a side of, I'm assuming, their Sardinian pecorino style cheese, and I added some and brought it the next level. I enjoyed this dish a lot.






Tortelli avec endive rouge et ricotta avec sauce gorgonzola et noix. (Tortelli with red endive and ricotta with gorgonzola and walnut sauce). A pretty dish with all the tortellini line up like little soldiers in a creamy cheese sauce. My first bite was, wow, you cannot mistake the gorgonzola flavor. It was distinct, but not unpleasant to the palate, assuming you like blue cheese. I'm not a big fan of nuts with pasta, with the exception of maybe pine nuts. Good thing, cause I avoided tasting it; however, Marie did and mentioned that the whole walnuts were a little rancid. Oh well.


DESSERT


Sevada or Sebada. (A flaky pastry filled with cheese and drizzled with honey). As many of you know, I don't eat desserts but Marie and Jack shared this, I did take a little taste and it was reminiscent of a lot of middle eastern sweets sort of like "baklava", but filled with cheese. We were told the pastry was stuffed with ricotta, but it tasted more like "string cheese" to me. But I have to admit the honey with the savory cheese was a great combination, and the crunchiness of the dough made it a complete dessert.


WINES

COSTAMOLINO fermentino di Sardegna Argiolas.  This Italian white is known for it's straw yellow color with light green reflections. Flavor profiles are: Subtle, intense and delicate, with good primary and secondary aromas. As for the palate it is fresh and dry, sapid, with a delicate and pleasant sensation.

Carrasegare isola dei nuraghi rosso.  An Italian red wine with grapes from Bovale, Cannonau, Monica and Sangiovese. It has a ruby color with an intense scent and has a nose reminiscent of ripen plum. On the palate it is warm, full bodied and slightly tannic.  And Jack and Marie loved it.


SUMMARY

Sardinia has a lot of similarities as well as differences with their mainland brothers and sisters in Italy. They also have a lot of similarities with other countries including France, in particular southern France, and north Africa. In fact, they have a pasta called "fregola" which is very similar to couscous. I thought this restaurant was above average. The pasta dishes were delicious. Service excellent. I believe it's family owned and run. There were some tasting errors, however, that I can't overlook like the inedible saltiness of my entrée as well as the rancid walnuts (both easy fixes), but over-all, it's worth going back and trying other dish.


For 3-people: 3-entrées, 3-plats, 1-dessert, 1-full bottle of red wine, 1/2 bottle of white wine and 2-coffees our bill came to 149€ or almost 50€ a person.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Bacco -- Restaurant Review


13, rue Mademoiselle 15eme
Tel: 04 42 50 35 29
Metro: 8 (Commerce)
Website: www.bacco.paris 
Call for opening times
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 - Bell


A friend of ours is staying close to the 15eme arrondissement, which also happens to be in our neighborhood, so I selected this restaurant, primarily because of its reviews and the close proximity to us.

This restaurant is known for it's Italian and French flavors, and combining the two to make it uniquely theirs.


As we entered we noticed it wasn't very crowded, probably because it's getting closer to vacation time. It was simply decorated and the tables were nicely spaced and not crammed together, as in most restaurants. They had a full bar and you could see the kitchen from the dining room, which I've always liked.


We perused the menus and they had quite the interesting mix of dishes. They also had a suggestion of the day which sounded really good.

For our amuse bouche we got a little mouseline of carrots flavored with turmeric and sprinkled with toasted sesames topped with a watercress. It was a nice 2 or 3 teaspoons bites and it was very good, but a little sweet for my liking, but the others found it delicious. This was a good start.










ENTRÉES

La Burratina. We decided the 3 of us would share 2-entrées. First one was a nice appetizer of burrata cheese, a  pistachio pesto, and Parma ham and a sweet confiture. It also had a wonderful parmesan crispy wafer. We had some olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar which livened up the cheese and made it even more delicious and brought it to a new level. A great combination, and quite the sizable portion, which we could not even finish.



Ravioles de ris de veau. A ravioli stuffed with sweetbreads and served with some pecorino cream. Atop the ravioli were also chunks of sweetbreads lightly battered and fried. It was a delicious dish, and we managed to finish this dish. The only odd thing I noticed was a radish was just sort of misplaced. Don't really know why it was on the dish, made no sense. Otherwise a very tasty dish.



PLATS

Le Thon rouge.  Bluefin tuna lightly seared, just on the exterior, a sauce of langoustine bisque, an egg roll of sweet and sour seasoned vegetables. If this fish had not been lightly seared, it would have been a perfect sashimi. The tuna was very moist and the juxtaposition of the seared exterior and raw interior brought the 2 distinct flavors of the fish. At first I wasn't sure why there were egg rolls on the dish, but after tasting the combination, it made sense. The was the vegetable portion of the dish, it just happened to be an egg roll. I loved the dish and the bisque was light and not overwhelming strong, as are most bisques. A very well rounded dish.



Tagliatelle a la crema tartufata et truffe diete d’Italie.  If you like truffles, this is the dish for you. The tagliatelle was cooked perfectly al-dente and the sauce of creamed truffles was perfect. I don't think I've ever seen a dish covered with so much sliced truffles. It should've been called "truffles with pasta". One of my best friends would've died over this dish. She's a big lover of truffles. It had a very characteristic earthy taste combined with the refined tagliatelle. The cream was just the right amount. It wasn't my favorite dish, but overall it was a very good dish.




Risotto au Safran, gambas rotis et chaire crabe. At first glance when this dish was served to me, I thought oh-oh, it looks pretty dry. Well looks can be deceiving. The risotto was extremely moist. You have to like saffron though. The dish was ladened with saffron. I find typically when seafood is incorporated in risotto that there's a tendency to overcook it. Not in this case, the shrimp was perfectly cooked. The crab were small pieces and I think it was used more to flavor the rice. As for the green, they were actually chunks of asparagus, nice and al-dente. Overall, I thought this was an excellent risotto. Rich, flavorful and also had a small amount of citrus to counterbalance the richest. A big hit with me.


DESSERTS


Choco (Strato) Sphère. A hard chocolate Chocolate sphere encasing a mango mousse with also fresh mango and passion fruit. It was a  beautifully presented dish. Interestingly we could not get the sphere opened. First Jack tried and then I tried. You actually needed a chisel. After a couple of tries, we were finally able to get the sphere opened. Much to our delight, we did not break the plate in our attempts. I think the problem was that the chocolate sphere was just way, way too thick, it had to have been at least 1/4 of an inch thick. The easy solution was to either make it thinner, or leave a hole on top so you can slice into it. But alas we got it open, and the mango mousse was out of this world delicious. No mistaking that it tasted like mango. The chocolate was a dark chocolate, and there was even crumble for a textural component. An excellent flavor composition, but not an easy dessert to eat.



Le cheese cake. Avocado and pineapple confit, zest of cumbawa on biscuit speculoos. To those not initiated, avocados are actually used as a dessert in most of Asia. In fact, I myself never had a savory dish of avocados, e.g., guacamole until I moved to the US. The cheesecake was good, but the speculoos crust (similar to a graham cracker) was a bit soggy for my taste. However, the cream cheese itself was good. The infused avocado was mild and the topping of pineapples as well as a layer of it in the actual cheesecake was interesting. Our waiter told us that the lime was a Japanese lime, but in actuality it was flavored with the rind of a kaffir lime. Not my favorite dessert.


WINES. Le Maestrelle Toscana Santa Cristina 2014. A deep red almost purple red Italian wine from Tuscany with flavor notes and nose of aromas of red fruit, chocolate, and mint.



















SUMMARY 

What a great find in our neighborhood. The 15eme has come a long way since we moved here in 2009. Restaurants are popping up all around us. And, interestingly enough there are pockets of the 15eme that are known for certain ethnic foods, e.g., Ethiopian, Korean, and Persian. I thought the food here was very good. The one thing that drove me crazy is that they had jazz music piped through the restaurant; I found it annoying. Don't get me wrong, I love jazz music, but maybe they could've toned down a little. The restaurant was near empty, so I wonder what the noise level would've been had it been crowded. The entrées and the plats I thought were exceptionally good; however, the desserts I found a bit strange, not only in its ease of eating as in the chocolate sphere, but also in one of the flavor profiles, e.g., cheese cake. As for price-point, it's a bit pricey, comparatively speaking. However, we would definitely go back.

For 2-entrées, 3-plats, 2-desserts, 1-glass of white wine, 1-bottle of red wine, 1-soda, 1-bottled water, for 3-people our bill would've been 212€, but because I booked on "la fourchette" I got a discount of 60.80€ for a net total of 151.20€ or 50.40€ per person. So as you can see, this is not an inexpensive restaurant, even with the discount.




Friday, July 14, 2017

Kitchen Ter(re) -- Restaurant Review


26 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris
Closed Sunday & Mondays
Metro: Jussieu (Line 7 & 10)

Bus: 89 (Institut du Monde Arabe)
Tel:  01 42 39 47 48


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+)


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


This restaurant has only been open for a little more than a week by renowned Chef de cuisine of "Ze Kitchen Galerie" and "KGB" (Kitchen Galerie Bis) by Chef William Ledeuil. Chef Ledeuil's trademark style of cooking is using Asian ingredients, but cooking with French techniques. It wasn't that long ago that anything not traditionally French was looked down upon. In fact, I once made a "Boeuf Bourginon" with 5-spice and my French friends were appalled, "c'est pas Francais".  Now almost 10-years later the French are not only embracing new flavors, but seeking it out.

Chef Ledeuil

Chef Ledeuil spent time in Asia and in fact goes there annually to hone his culinary knowledge. Bravo for him to seek out different cuisines. Speaking to his maitre'd he told us that he encourages his staff to go to Asia every year as well, to broaden their food knowledge.




As we entered the restaurant, it was nothing extraordinary, simple, but had a very casual welcoming feel. Chef Ledeuil brought his seasoned staff from his other restaurants to help get this restaurant get off the ground. In fact, we were overwhelming surprised it was opened for little more than a week, since it was run like a fine tuned orchestra.


We told the maitre'd that we had reservations under our friends name J, he immediately informed us he knew who he was, since J has been a loyal customer of the Chef's different restaurants for years. We were given complimentary champagne from Charles Heidsieck vintners to start. Hmm, it pays to go out to lunch with celebrity food writers.

Secondly, Jack and I have not been to the "Ze Kitchen Galerie" for years, yet, the maitre'd remembered us from our last visit. Now that's classy, and gave us a warm welcoming feel that they remembered us and welcomed us back. Very personable.














Our maitre'd explained to us that they use special grains in their starch dishes from using e.g., a wheat bulgar rather than rice for the risotto. He brought out a sample and explained each one of them to us. Very impressed.











I found the menu fascinating because just from reading it appeared to be so innovative and different from most other "French" restaurants, other than ethnic restaurants. What was also comforting was that  I am very familiar with the Asian ingredients used. And, our maitre'd confirmed that his generation (born in the 90's) are better traveled and more open to changes and admitted that French cuisine needs to evolve. He himself had just come back from almost 6-weeks in Indonesia.

Meals (please refer to menu above for English translation)


ENTRÉE

Gaspacho de Tomate.  The Chef wanted us to taste one of their trademark dishes on the house. This is probably the best gazpacho I've ever had. If our maitre'd hadn't told me there was no cream it, I would have sworn there was cream in it. Makes sense since the Chef's inspiration is Asian, and Asian cuisine typically do not use dairy. This recipe is trademarked and I can see why. But our maitre'd did share with us they use different tomatoes that creates the richness and creaminess with a touch of heat and garnished with fresh herbs. I believe it also had lemongrass. One word DELICIOUS.


Tartare de boeuf. I don't normally like raw beef because I've had some bad experiences but, I decided to taste it anyway. OMG, the Chef made me a believer again. This was absolutely delicious. Normally raw beef is sort of just "eh", and needs to be flavored with olive oil, citrus and cheese as in the case of Italian carpaccio. But this tartare was flavored with different Asian spices, citrus and herbs that gave it so much flavor and freshness that he has once again made me a believer.


Crabe mou. I had ordered this entrée, although good, this was probably my least favorite entrée comparatively speaking. The croquettes were delicious and I believe they sat atop an squid ink paste. The crab was perfectly cooked, but I guess I was expecting a little more of the body. And, the accompanying frisée had a wonderful peppery bitter taste. Simple, but well executed dish.







Salade de Poulpe de Galice.  Another wow moment. Talk about titillating the palate. The octopus was perfectly cooked. It was accompanied with tomatoes, citrus, a sauce of strawberries and topped with fresh herbs, which brought a fresh component to the dish. This seems to be a common theme with all the entrées of adding fresh greens/herbs. Bravo, a big hit with all of us.






PLATS

Blesotto (Engrain) Pistou Thaï, Girolles & Pecorino. At first glance, I thought, wow this is a very strange combination of flavors. And, this dish veered from the traditional flavors of Asia since it was topped with pecorino cheese (dairy). But I have to say it all worked. The Blesotto was made from a raw wheat cornels and the "pesto" was inspired by a Thai pesto sauce, which I'm assuming the Chef used Thai basil and of course garlic. The mushrooms and pieces of tomatoes were perfect. What I thought would be a strange combination all worked beautifully in texture and taste. Even the cheese worked.



Casarecce (Epeautre) Volaille Laquée, Harissa & Citron Confit. This was Jack's favorite dish. In fact, he said it was perfection. Harissa is a North African (Maghreb) spice akin to sriracha that we're familiar with in the US. The wheat noodles were perfectly cooked al-dente and the chicken was perfectly lacquered. What distinguished this from the other dish was its spicy heat. It was perfectly seasoned, wasn't too spicy where you couldn't taste the chicken. In other words it had the right amount of heat. It had a citrus flavor from the confit, so you had a balance of sour, sweet, salty and spicy.  And, it was garnished with some fresh basil. So, hit all the flavor notes.


Girolette (engrain) Porc Ibérique, Kimchi.  J and I ordered this dish.  I was expecting this Iberian pork to be on the salty dry side, but it was anything but. It actually tasted like sweet-and-sour pork to me. The maitre'd told me it was cooked twice with the last searing on the grill lacquered with almost like a sweet hoisin sauce. The kimchi was not overwhelming and brought the dish  to another level. Overall, a delicious dish.








DESSERTS


Three had desserts. They were delicious. Looking at the menu you're going to think, WHAT? some of the combinations are strange.

Sorbet Fyord & Fraise, Melon, Pêche. This was the least exotic of the desserts. It was basically melons and peach topped with a strawberry ice sorbet. Good and simple.

Gianduja café, miso. OMG, this was so chocolatey rich and delicious. Loved this dessert. To be honest though, I did not taste the miso. Miso can be a little salty, so in combination with chocolate I can see how it works. Salt, in actuality, brings out the sweetness of chocolate.

Cappucinno, fraise, pistache, wasabi. I was never a fan of desserts with a spicy element, e.g., chocolate sprinkled with red peppers. On the other hand this was an extremely refreshing dessert. It did have a little kick from the wasabi, but it wasn't unpleasant, in fact it brought the otherwise very simple dessert to the next level and gave it a pop. So, I'm once again a believer that a little heat goes a long way with desserts.


WINES

As our usual modus operandi we ordered a bottle of white and red.

Domaine de la Janasse 2015 Côtes de Rhône. A white wine characterized a taste of fresh fruit of crushed strawberries and blackberries. Also with a crisp flavor with a hint of licorice.

La Grande Ourse 2014. A red wine from the Côtes de Rhône as well. It's characterized has having tasting notes of dense and velvety materials. It has very complex flavors.






SUMMARY

One word, WOW. Chef Ledeuil is a true culinary artist. Chapeau to the Chef. He broke the French mold and took chances to influence the French's otherwise strict, classical and rigid palette to explore other flavors of the world, but not losing French technique and/or sensibility. I remember just 10-years ago when even a hint of spice was looked down upon by the French. But with the influx of Chefs from around the world opening restaurants in Paris with foods and spices from their native countries, to classically French trained chefs traveling the world to broaden their food knowledge, what a great culinary evolution taking place in Paris, and what a great time to be in Paris.

Chef Ledeuil is known for his broths and sauces and of course his use of Asian flavors. Although the menu was heavy on Asian products there were other influences from e.g., Galicia and also North Africa. The gazpacho was out of this world, the entrées were all delicious and although I'm not a dessert person, I have to say they were good. The staff seemed genuinely happy. In fact, one of his apprentices, our maitre'd, had worked for Chef Ledeuil since he was 17 and he's now 27. He had nothing but praise for the chef. And, the other staff all seemed extremely happy. It says a lot and showed in their enthusiasm when describing the dishes, and serving them. So, the service was beyond reproach. This is one of the best meals I've had in our almost 10-years of living in Paris. Will we come back? ABSOLUTELY. I'm afraid it's going to get so popular that I may not get in anymore.

For 4-entrées (soup comped), 4-plats, 3-desserts, 3-coffees, 1-tea, 2-bottles of wine, our bill came to 192€ or 48€ per person. What a great deal for an excellent meal.










Sunday, July 2, 2017

Restaurant Review -- Grand Cœur


41 rue du Temple, 75004 ParisTel: 01 58 28 18 90
Metro: Hôtel de ville (Line 1)
Closed Mondays
Website: 
http://www.grandcoeur.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+)



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

This restaurant has been around a while. I've been meaning to go to it, because it's in the Marais where we typically hang out. And, it's known for their dining al-fresco. Unfortunately, today it rained buckets so we went inside.


Interior is really nice. The stone walls and the high ceilings gave it an old world charm. But that's where it stopped. The restaurant was not full, and we did have a late seating (1:30 pm), but it was so noisy. It had a lot to do because the walls were stone and the tables were marble, so a lot of the noise bounced off.

The menu was interesting. They said they had a prix-fixe menu, but it was not printed, so in addition to asking for some water and the specials, our waiter just went off and totally forgot about us.

Finally a woman wait person came and she told us what the specials were. We had to ask her to repeat it as the acoustics were so bad we could not understand her. And, we once again asked for water and it finally came. 

After we made our decisions, we decided to order the specials.  We also ordered wine. Normally the wine comes before the meal is served. But we got it mid-way through our entrée, how weird.




ENTRÉE

Calamari salad. It was actually quite good. There were julienne carrots, zucchini in a light vinaigrette oil mixture. And, much to our pleasant surprise there were also some large pieces of whole shelled shrimp. The calamari was just a tad tough, but not unpleasant to the palate. Be forewarned if you're allergic to peanuts, this dish did have peanuts. I happen to like peanuts on my salad so this was a plus for me. Overall a very good composed first course.






PLATS: 

Duck. The duck was served to us 2-ways, roasted breast, and in a cup almost served like a parmentier, however, the potato topping was more like a thin whipped potato that was very light and airy. I did not like the roasted duck, it was very tough. However, my friend who ordered the same dish said his was fine. I gave him a piece of mine and he agreed that mine was particularly tough. So, it looks like they have consistency issues coming out of the kitchen. The accompanying vegetables of zucchini and a pureed of peas was a nice accompaniment. I thought the sauce for the duck was a bit tart though.

The little cup with pulled duck in the sauce was absolutely delicious. It had a lot of flavor and the meat was cooked very tender. This was the saving grace of this dish.

We decided to forego dessert and got coffee instead.





Wine: Thierry Germain Les Roche 2015 Samur Champigny.  A red wine made with 100% cabernet franc from the Loire. It has both the smell and taste of red fruits with a very balanced acidity.













SUMMARY

This restaurant is known for their outdoor terrace, so it's apparently nice to come here for al-fresco dining. Unfortunately, for us it rained and we ate indoors. The food is just fair, nothing special. The service was inconsistent. One waiter never remembered our orders, so we had to ask the other wait-staff and they were more attentive. Would we go back, maybe for the outdoor dining where the noise level would be lowered. The food wasn't bad, but it just wasn't anything special.

With 4-entrées, 4-plats, 1-coffee, 1 bottle of red wine and 2 glasses of white wine our bill came to 171€.