"The evolving 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, June 10, 2012

Moissonnier -- Restaurant Review

28 r. des Fossés-St-Bernard
75005 Paris 
Tél: 01 43 29 87 65
  Tuesday -- Saturday 12 pm to 10 pm (lunch/dinner)

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

Friends have been recommending this restaurant for months, we were finally able to go last night.  The restaurant is easily accessible via public transportation.  It is located not far from the Pantheon and almost across the street from the “Institute du Monde Arabe” (Arab world institute). From the outside, it’s not anything special, but inside it is very warm and cozy.  It is owned and run by Philippe and Valérie Mayet.  This is a "Lyonnaise" style restaurant, and for those familiar with French food, Lyon is considered the French capital of gastronomy, and the birthplace of Paul Bocuse. We found Mme Mayet utterly charming and welcoming.

We were four. We started with apéros, 3-coupes du champagne and one "pastis", as we perused the menu.  The menu is pretty varied, and from what I could tell very traditionally French. 

NOTE: there is no prix-fixe menu, everything is à la carte.

Entrées:  Two of us got the “Terrine de queue de boeuf maison” (beef tail terrine); it was very good. There were chunks of carrots, shredded pieces of beef tail and the amount of aspic used was just right, considering many times terrines use way too much aspic. It was also served with a little side of greens and haricots verts (green beans).

One of us got the evening special not on the menu, “Terrine de lapin” (rabbit terrine).  It was pretty much the same as the beef tail terrine, but made with rabbit and the pieces of meat were much chunkier; it too was very good.

Our fourth person ordered the “Oeufs en muerette” (eggs poached in red wine). This is a pretty traditional French country dish. When I first saw the dish I thought for sure it was going to be too glutinous and too rich. I had a taste of it and the sauce was excellent. The wine they used wasn’t too rich or acidic nor bitter and they did not over do it with the roux. Although the picture does not do the dish justice, overall it was executed very well.  

Onto our plats:  I ordered one of their two signature dishes, the “Quenelle de brochet soufflée” (poached pike fish soufflée).  The dish came out bubbling hot.  The first thing I said to our wait-person, c’est énorme (it’s huge), but she explained that it’s a soufflé, it looks large, but it’s really light.  What I found odd was they gave me a fish knife for a soufflé?  Maybe it was for the symbolism.  The cream sauce that accompanied this dish was to die for; however, it was extremely rich. The soufflée itself was very light and although I would’ve liked chunks of pike in the soufflé, it would’ve probably made the dish too heavy. I was not able to finish it, not so much because of the volume, but because of the richness.

A friend ordered their second signature dish, “Poulet aux morilles et vin jaune” (Chicken with morels and yellow wine). He liked the dish a lot. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the morels were delicious.  It was also accompanied by egg noodles.  I tasted the sauce, and once again, it was to die for.  As with my dish, the cream sauce was extremely rich.

The next dish was the “Rognon de veau entier à la graine de moutarde” (veal kidneys in whole mustard seed).  You can sometimes overcook kidneys and it can be extremely rubbery and hard; however, this dish was cooked perfectly. It was delicious, and once again, it was accompanied with a very, very rich creamy mustard sauce.We commented although good, it could've used more, or stronger, mustard in the sauce.

And, lastly one friend ordered the “Boeuf Miroton” (boiled beef cooked with onions, bacon and vinegar). I had a taste of it, and I liked it. It was the one dish that did not have a heavy rich cream sauce. It was more akin to beef bourguignon. It was also served with a side of creamy scalloped potatoes, which I was told was excellent.

On to desserts:  I had the “dessert du jour” which was a strawberry tart. I do not know why I ordered dessert, at this point I was so full, but I sacrificed so I could report on the desserts. It was a very simple, nice strawberry tart that was encased in a very soft "dripping" glaze. It did have a little tartness to its taste. Unfortunately, because I was already so full, I wasn’t able to finish the dish.

The one dessert that looked like a monster dessert was the “Meringues glacées, sauce chocolat chaude” (meringue with ice cream and hot chocolate sauce). First thing I thought of when I saw this dessert, are we in the U.S.? it was enormous, definitely an American portion. I tasted it, it was delicious.  It was basically vanilla ice cream "sandwiched-in" with two baked meringues, smothered in warm chocolate sauce. Now how bad can that be? Bad for the waistline, but it was delicious, albeit extremely rich!

The next dessert was a “Entremets citron, coulis de framboises” (soft lemon pudding with raspberry coulis topped with sliced strawberries).  Our friend who ordered this liked it, because for one it was “citrusy” and a little on the tart side, which he loves.

Lastly, one friend got the classic crème brulée.  Very typically French, very good.

Summary:  From now on, when I think of traditional classic French cooking, Moissonnier would definitely come to mind. It is a very “Lyonnaise” style restaurant. From the classic terrines to the rich buttery creamy sauces and the rich desserts.  Although I thought the food was very good, personally I found it very, very rich and heavy, it's probably from my being lactose intolerant, thank god for medication, and not having been brought up with rich creams and butter.  And, as such was not able to finish most of the dishes. So, if you like traditional French cuisine, are not lactose intolerant, and are a big eater, I highly recommend this restaurant.

With apéros mentioned above, 2-pichets of red wine, and 1-pichet of white wine our total bill came to about 240€ or 60€ per person.

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