208 Rue de la Croix Nivert Tele:
Rating Standards: 4-Stars = Extraordinary; 3-Stars = Excellent; 2-Stars = Good; 1-Star = Fair; NO stars = 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+)
Average rating for 3-visits = 2.5 stars
Joël and I had the Scampis de blanc de seiche et oignons de trébons, sauce tartare. Basically squid with onion rings. I have to say, this was the highlight of my and Joël's evening. We got 3-nice portions of squid, with onion rings. I love American style onion rings, but they are heavily breaded, these onion rings were fried with a very thin batter; hence, the onions were not only crispy, but you can also taste the onion flavor. As for the squid, it was nice and tender and not at all overcooked.
Cynthia had the Bettraves au campari, purée d'olives de kalamata. It was a plate of beets with a campari sauce and kalamata olives. According to Cynthia, it was a great first course that was clean, well presented, simple, and just plain delicious.
OK, this is where it gets ugly. Cynthia and I ordered the onglet de boeuf grilée, pôelée de girolles et mouserrons. A skirt steak with chantrelle and wild mushrooms. I broke my general rule, never order grilled steaks, side of beef etc., unless it's been braised for a long time ala boeuf bourguignon. Cynthia ordered hers rare and I ordered mine medium. I kept trying to cut my piece of steak, but couldn't, than Jack asked if maybe I had my knife upside down, so I tried the other way and still had difficulty, but managed to cut a small piece off. Let me just say, I could have taken a patent on this steak and used it for tires, or rubber soles of shoes. It was sooooo rubbery, it was just plain inedible. Joël and Cynthia just basically said they've gotten used to the steaks in Paris, I still haven't.
Joël insisted that I trade with him since he had the pork dish, he was relentless and said we must trade claiming he has no problem with rubbery steaks, since he's used to them. So, bless his heart, we traded. He claimed he liked my steak, but I'm not sure. Either way I was very, very touched by his kindness. Otherwise, no plat for me, because I don't believe in returning food to have it replaced (use your imagination why!)
The dish I finally wound up with that Joël had originally ordered was a Jambon de porcelet braisée au porto, pommes de terre nouvelles, et haricots verts. It was a pork loin braised in port with new potatoes and green beans. Now this dish was more like it. The pork was tender and just melted in your mouth. The port sauce just enhanced the flavor. The new potatoes and green beans were quite nice. Overall, a very good tasty dish.
Jack had the Merlu cuisiné à vapeur, creme de courgettes à la menthe de milly. A hake fish with creamed zucchini. Jack really liked the sauce, he said it was just excellent and not cream laden like most sauces. I tasted it, and it was good. My guess is they pureed it, and because of the fibrous nature of zucchini it created a thick creamy texture. The fish was good although boring and simple on its own, but accompanied with the sauce it was better.
Here comes the fun part, the desserts. Joël had a nice cheese plate with a good variety of different local cheeses. I wish I had ordered this so I can tell you what the cheeses were, but it was delicious based on Joël focusing on the different cheeses.
Cynthia and I had the Clafoutis aux cerises, crème paresseuse. A cherry cake where the batter is like a thick flan, served with a heavy cream. Loved this dish, but warning, typically in France they do not pit their cherries. It was served warm, and the cream was so rich it was like the consistency of butter cream frosting, it was just a great accompaniment.
In summary, you can't always be on your game. A friend told me that since it's that time of the year, meaning many Parisians are anxiously awaiting to take their 4-6 week summer hajj, that they sometimes lose focus. Joël wasn't that inspired or moved by the food. Jack thought it was ok, and Cynthia thought it was excellent.
I loved everything, but the onglet de boeuf. If I can erase that from my memory, everything will be fine. But as a "foodie" I was quite traumatized and will certainly need therapy. So, unless you like really tough rubbery steaks, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT order the onglet de boeuf! As for the service, it is more than efficient; however, the wait staff lack personality and are almost robotic. I feel like telling them to "lighten-up", have fun! I guess they're thinking about their upcoming vacation. Hopefully, after they come back from their vacation, they'll be a little less uptight.
Would I go again, if friends want to go, porquoi pas (why not). Jack on the other hand would prefer to go elsewhere, given that he feels there are better choices out there, especially in our neighborhood. I've been 3-times, and if you average them out, the food, service and ambiance would be 2.5 out of 4.