"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)!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Restaurant Review -- "Restaurant AG"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Ellsworth

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Paradis

14 Rue de Paradis
75010 Paris
Metro: Gare de L'est
Tel: +33 (01) 45 23 57 58

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

 3.5 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 4 - Bell

A friend of our is staying around the corner from this restaurant, and suggested we try it. The 10eme arrondissement was/is an immigrant neighborhood filled with many ethnic restaurants such as Indian, Pakistani, African, Turkish, and so on.  However, the area is becoming more gentrified with new interesting shops and restaurants, catering to the young "Bobos" otherwise known as "hipsters."

As we entered we noticed it was already quite busy. It was also large by Parisian standards.  They do have an upstairs, and I highly recommend you request the upstairs dining area, because the main dining area was extremely noisy and difficult to have a conversation.

They had quite a nice selection on their menu. There was also a pre-fix lunch menu for 16€ which was a steak tartare atop a salad, a great deal. None of us wanted the tartare so we ordered a-la-carte. There were three of us, and this is what we ordered.


Salade de betteraves multicolores, pesto d'oseille, oignons nouveaux, amandes (Colorful salad beetroot, sorrel pesto, onions, almonds).  The dish was beautifully presented and extremely colorful. What stood out about this dish were the ingredients. They were very, very fresh. And, although it was a beet salad, they had nice accompanying vegetables such as carrots and some greens. Overall, an excellent dish.

Tourteau émietté nature, soupe glacée de petits pois carotte pourpre (Crab cake crumbled with cold pea soup purple carrots).  This was a really nice refreshing cold soup. I could easily see this dish as a summer mainstay.  Although the dish was beautifully composed and topped with beets, it was very under-seasoned. So I had to borrow our neighbor's salt, and the salt did make a huge difference.


Risotto vert, mozzarella fumée, brocolis, pétales de navets (Green risotto, smoked mozzarella, broccoli, turnips petals).  This dish was not only beautiful but it was delicious. The risotto was flavorful and had a nice al-dente texture, but also very creamy. It also had a nice peppery bite to it, which I enjoyed. The mozzarella was creamy and deliciously smoky, which brought the dish to a whole new level. This was a very, very well composed and thought out dish.

Joue de cochon confite cinq heures, légumes racines, bouillon légèrement epice (Pig cheek confit five, root vegetables, slightly spicy broth).   This was more of a stew. The pork cheeks were nice and tender and the broth was very good. It was accompanied by different root vegetables and radishes, which added a nice zing. It was French comfort food, almost like a "pot-au-feu", but with pork.


Only one of us ordered a dessert. Although she originally wanted a "cafe gourmand",  they didn't have the traditional one, but did have a chocolat milleux cake served over ice cream, which was part of the pre-fix meal. It was a good dessert, but nothing out of the ordinary.


The neighborhood is dramatically changing, and it's becoming more "bobo" (trendy) for the young. Therefore, more and more trendy restaurants are starting to pop up. I never really think about going to the 10eme for French food and think of it is more of a place I go for Indian food, but I have to say this restaurant is good, definitely above average. Please keep in mind that there are several restaurants named Paradis, and this particular one is at 14 Rue Paradis.

I wish the wait staff would crack a smile every so once in a while, but they all seemed very serious and professional, and yes they were very efficient.  The food was above average with with some minor missteps e.g., the pork being way under-seasoned, but overall I would certainly return if I was in the neighborhood. Be forewarned though, it's an extremely noisy restaurant. So, I would suggest you ask for a table upstairs. For 3-people, 2-glasses of wine, a coke, and a tea our bill came to 103€.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Les Chouettes

32, Rue de Picardie
75003 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 44 61 73 21
Web: www.restaurant-les-chouettes-paris.fr
Ouvert tous les jours de 8 h à 1h
Metro: Temple #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 (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

 2.5 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 4 - Bell

Chouette in "argo" (French slang) means, "KOOL". This restaurant has the physical appearance of kool, but that's where it stops.

The main bar

The front of the restaurant is very deceiving, because as you enter it has the vibe of a very trendy, almost upscale restaurant you'd find in NYC or San Francisco. As you entered there are a few tiled mirrors on the walls and ceilings, hmm, I thought we stepped into someone's bedroom. But as we entered the main dining room, all I could say was wow, quite impressive. It is a 3-story restaurant. It's almost as if you were in a fancy, redone silo. At one side of the main floor "silo" sat a bar. Yep, they have a full bar. Imagine that in a Parisian dining establishment.

Main room with 3-stories, and atop is a large glass room,
which would be great during the day
First impressions: Attractive interior, trendy, young, and extremely noisy. Our wait-person deposited our menus and asked if we wanted a drink from the bar. Now keep this in mind, this is a full bar. So JJ ordered a "pastis"  a very French aperitif.  The wait-person said she'd ask the bartender if they have any. She came back and said no, imagine a very common French aperitif not available at a full service bar?.  So,  JJ ordered a martini blanc which is a white sweet vermouth served over ice. As we waited for the drink we perused the menu.  By the way, the martini blanc never came either. The menu was not at all extensive, which I don't mind, since my philosophy has always been, "the less, the better." It's very simple and straight-forward, there were 3-entrées, 3-plats, and 3-desserts.

We sat, and waited, and waited, the drink never came. Finally, the Maitre'd came and took our order and one of our friends ordered a bottle, unfortunately I don't remember the name of the wine and I ordered a glass of rosé.  In the interim, we asked for some water. After what seemed forever, two of our entrees showed up. JJ never got his martini blanc, nor did any of us get our wine, to be told after they placed our two entrées they didn't have the wine we originally requested,  JJ ordered another bottle this time, a "Pic Saint Loup", and I had to remind them I ordered the glass of rosé.

Since we sat close to the bar I could see the one-bartender mixing drinks and cleaning glasses. We were not immediately served our wines because they didn't have any clean glasses and our wait person had to wait until they dried a few. Finally the wine came, but no water, so we asked for water again.

Fortunately, the remaining 2-entrées came, but still no water, so we asked for the third time. I guess the 3rd time was the charm, because our wait-person grabbed an available bottle of water from the bar counter.


Lasagne de Langoustines, tonka et parmesan (Lasagna scampi, tonka beans and parmesan). The dish was simply presented, nice flavors associated the creaminess of butter and cream.  The pasta appeared to be home-made. Good start.

Encornets frits, fenouil et piquillos, poudre de speck (Fried squid, fennel and piquillo peppers, powder pork).  JJ thought the sauces were a bit out of the ordinary, but I thought they were mild and creamy and did not distract from the main ingredient, the squid. I thought the squid was perfectly grilled. It was a good dish.

Copeaux de bonite et haddock, oeuf mimosa et savora (Bonito shavings and haddock, mimosa egg and savora/ground herbs).  The dish was garnished with eggs and some salmon caviar in addition to the main ingredient the haddock and flavorings. I'm not one for very sour dishes. But I found this entrée extremely sour. JJ loved it, but then again he can eat lemons like oranges. So not my favorite entrée.


Pavé de lieu jaune, crème de carottes, cresson et pamplemousse (Pollock steak, carrot cream, watercress and grapefruit).  I had a taste of it, and I found there was a slight bitter aftertaste from the skin; however, the two who ordered it liked it. I do have to say that the fish was nicely cooked and it was very moist.

Croustillant de lapin, fèves et duxelles (Crispy rabbit, beans and mushrooms).  This dish reminded me of a German "rouladen" the difference being it was rolled in nice crispy batter.   The juxtaposition of the crispiness and the moist rabbit was a nice flavor and texture combination. No complaint with this dish.

Filet de cochon ibérique au citron confit, asperges et pommes purée (Iberian pork fillet with lemon confit, asparagus and mashed potatoes).  I liked this dish. The pork was nicely cooked and more importantly the asparagus was not overcooked. Most French like their vegetables cooked through, so it was nice to have a nice crunch.  The potatoes were buttery and creamy delicious.


Mousse de sésame grillé, caramel sale et glacé lin (Toasted sesame mousse, caramel and ice cream). The person who had this dessert thought it was very interesting, since it was her first time to have the main ingredient dessert ingredient as sesame. I told her it was not uncommon to have sesame in many desserts from the Maghreb as well as Asia. She loved the dessert and thought it was not only unique, but delicious!

Citron yuzu, meringue italienne et glace basilic (Yuzu lemon, meringue and ice basil).  JJ likes all things lemon, so this was the perfect desert for him. It was tart, and sweet and the basil ice cream added a nice touch.

Assiette de fromage (Cheese Plate).  As usual I had the cheese plate. No complaints here. Whoever sourced their cheese did a great job.


As I've mentioned in previous post, the dining experience should be about the WHOLE experience from when you make the reservation until you leave. They did not deliver. The food was beautifully presented and in some cases the dishes were outstanding. The service was abysmal. It is common in many French restaurants that the food be served warm, but not pipping hot; however, all of our food arrived less than lukewarm.  Prior reviews mentioned that this is a "one off" kind of restaurant.  It's the kind of the restaurant you go once to see, but then leave it to others who can handle the noise and the schizophrenic service.

There's been a long standing rumor in Paris that Americans do not always get their utensils "changed-out" between courses, whereas the French expect this. Well this restaurant proved that this rumor is alive and well. When we finished our first course our wait-person did not change out our utensils, but changed out one for one of our guests. I decided to check the other tables to see if the utensils were changed out for the French, and, yes, indeed they were. This really angered me. After-all, for this caliber of restaurant there should be no question that this should be done. They may have been short on utensils and glasses, hence, the long wait to get our drinks. But that is still NO excuse.

Lastly, maybe minor for some, but for this type of restaurant, do you think they can keep paper towels or a hand dryer in the bathroom? They apparently ran out. Running out of things seems to be a trend here. So, what did they replace the empty paper towels with, toilet paper? Well how absolutely elegant is that?

Will I go back, ABSOLUTELY NOT. As I mentioned, this is a "one-off".  And, it's a shame cause the food was pretty good. And for this reason I ranked it much higher than usual. For a bottle of wine, and a glass of rosé our bill came to 201€ or 101 per couple.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Restaurant Review -- A. Noste

6 bis Rue du 4 Septembre
Paris 75002
Phone:01 47 03 91 91
Metro: Bourse #3
Website: http://www.a-noste.com/
Hours: Tapas 12 noon to 11 pm daily (no reservations) 
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

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

A friend was staying around the corner from this restaurant and it quickly became one of her favorite places for a casual go to meal.  She insisted that we go and try this restaurant. I'm so glad we did.

The restaurant is very casual. In fact, the "tapas" tables are set high at "bar level", fortunately the stools have backs to them otherwise it would've been very uncomfortable. They do have a few small tables, but those must be reserved. As for the 'communal tables' section, they do not accept reservations, but if you go before or after peak lunch/dinner hours, it's easy to get a table. 


Once seated you are given a small menu with a pencil. You simply mark the dishes you want, which by the way, you share as a group, and they come typically two-dishes at a time, which is necessary in order not to clutter the tables. Also, they wait until the dishes are eaten before the next round, again to make space and easier eating.  The dishes are quite generous; often times tapas, or more specifically pintxos, are individual-sized portions, but their dishes are larger and geared for group sharing.

So, these are the dishes we shared.

Le véritable risotto aux morilles et moelle de boeuf
(risotto with mushrooms and beef marrow), and yes, this is 1 order

Falafels au foie gras et magret fumé
(Falafel with foie gras and smoked duck breast)

Jambon blanc du pays Basque cuit à l'os
(Basque country ham cooked on the bone)

Chipirons frits au piment d'espelette
(Fried squid with espelette)

Mijoté de légumes paysan
(Peasant Stew vegetables)

Nems de canard croustillants, sauce Thailandaise
(Crispy duck spring rolls with Thai sauce)

Curry de gambas crémeux, pommes vertes et coriandre fraîche
(Creamy curry prawns, green apples and fresh coriander)

Choux vanillés, caramel beurre salé
(Choux pastry vanilla salted butter caramel)

Crème brûlée au fruit de la passion et safran
(Crème brûlée with passion fruit and saffron)

Fromage de brebis, confiture de cerise noire
(Sheep's cheese, black cherry jam)

The dishes were all delicious, but some stood out from the rest. For myself the "Risotto with the bone marrow" stood out the most. It was moist, and delicious and had both a smooth and crispy texture. The crispy texture came from the miniature croutons. It was so delicious we actually had to order a second helping.

The next dish that popped for me was the shrimp dish. The chef did not shy away from the spices. It was a nice creamy curry, almost like a masaman curry (peanut based curry). Truly delicious.

Although tasty, my least favorite was the "duck spring rolls."  The chef had used rice paper as the wrapper, and for me, I think rice paper absorbs more oil. So it was a bit oily for my liking, but the filling was very tasty and the accompanying sauce was nice.

My favorite dessert was the Crème brûlée with passion fruit and saffron. It was baked in the shell of the passion fruit. Although a tad sweet, the flavor profiles were a great match.

The flavors of the tapas are definitely Basque in origin. The chef used "espelette" generously. He definitely did not shy away from spices, which is such a nice change from the otherwise very subtle taste of French food.

With a bottle of rosé, a glass of kir royale, 25cl of red wine,  and a bottle of sparkling water, our bill came to 179€ for 5-people. A great deal for such great food.

It's not a place to go for a romantic dinner, and can get quite noisy.  But the food and service was exceptional. Would I go back, in a heartbeat!