"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)!

Friday, July 6, 2012

L'Office -- Restaurant Review

Address:  3 rue Richer, 75009
Metro: Cadet (7)
Telephone: 01 47 70 67 31
Hours: Closed Saturday and Sunday

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

It was an extremely warm and humid day. We had lunch reservations for 12:30 pm, we were the first there and asked since we would be 4, could we possibly have the table by window. Unfortunately, the owner said that that table was reserved for 5-people, understandable.

It’s a very small restaurant and we sat against the back wall. Not a bad table, but air circulation was non-existent.  As our luncheon companions arrived I noticed they too asked about the front tables, and I jokingly told them that I had already asked.  I brought a hand fan so I started manually fanning the whole table. The owner saw me, and he said he has plans to provide hand fans for all the tables “à tout de suite.”  Oh well, we made do.

 The menu was written on a chalk board.  The prices were extremely reasonable: Entrée + Plat 21, or Plat + Dessert, Entrée + Plat + Dessert = 26€, Entrée + Plat + Frommage + Dessert = 31€

After we perused the menu we also ordered a bottle of Syrah 2011 Les Vignes D'à Côté, and I had a glass of their house rosé.

For our entrées: I’m listing them in the order that I really liked them. Two had the “burrata/gazpacho/basilic” (a cold gazpacho soup with burrata cheese, flavored with basil).  I loved, loved this dish, maybe because it was a hot and muggy day, but who cares, it was delicious. I’ve never had gazpacho served with soft chunks of burrata cheese, a soft handmade version of mozzarella cheese. But the addition of it made parts of it creamy which gave it a nice contrast of textures. The flavors were spot on, especially with the green heirloom tomatoes. I could’ve had a whole bowl of this and called it a day.

The second entrée, I ordered, “calamars/tomates/pois chice” (calamari with tomatoes and chick peas or garbanzos, 2€ supplement). There’s a general rule when cooking calamari called the “1-1-rule”, either you cook it for 1-minute or 1-hour and never in between otherwise it becomes too rubbery. Let’s just say they followed this rule because the calamari was perfectly cooked, tender, not chewy and a very good dish. However, to be honest, I found the addition of the garbanzo beans very distracting. Maybe a softer less chewy bean, such as chilled cooked navy beans or fava beans would’ve been a better choice.

The 3rd entrée was the “tagliatelles/lapin/petit pois” (wide noodles with rabbit and peas).  In my opinion, this was the weakest of the 3-entrées. I found the dish too ordinary. I’m also not a fan of shredded rabbit meat, I just find the texture off putting. Dishes like this reminds of, what should I do with left-over turkey after Thanksgiving? why shred it, add it to pasta, add a little cream and maybe some peas… Although good, I was not a fan of this dish.

Now for the plats:  Again in order of my favorites:  “bar/tomate fumée/speck” (Fish with smoked tomatoes and a ham).  This dish was amazing. The fish was cooked perfectly, crispy skin with soft moist flesh, and there were little surprises as you were eating the dish. There were specks of ham, ironically “speck” is a ham food term and its made from the hind pork leg in a similar way to prosciutto and used in Boeuf bourguignon for flavoring. Well all I can say, it added a lot of flavor to this dish. Then we found small pieces of baby oysters.  I wish I had ordered this dish, because I would’ve licked the bowl.

The second dish was the “porc/burlotti/scarole” (pork with borlotti beans and chicory). There was a filet of pork which was cooked crispy and on the medium well side, atop some shredded pulled pork, atop some mashed borlotti beans, intertwined with chicory. This dish would’ve been perfect for a winter dish. Although good, it was an extremely heavy and filling dish, and in the muggy weather we were having, I kept regretting that I did not order something lighter.  However, I did like the juxtaposition of the crispy pork filet, with the “shredded pull pork.” I will come back in the winter so I can enjoy it more.

The 3rd dish was the “canard/prune/riz/amandes” (duck with prunes, rice and almandes).  The duck was cooked towards the rare side, which it should be. I liked the dish, it was a simple well executed dish. It was also served with bok choy, steamed white rice and some julienne root vegetables. 

Onto desserts:  Again, I listed from my favorites: Two ordered the  “tarte aux fraises/citron/basilica” (strawberry tart with lemon and basil ice cream).  Maybe it was because it was hot and muggy, not only did I wanna lick the plate, I wanted to bath in that basil ice cream. I’d give it a whole new meaning to an herbal bath.  The tart was good, but the star truly was the basil ice cream. It was delicious smooth and sweet, and the basil was not overwhelming, but you definitely could taste it.

Next was the “chocolate/cerise/stracciatella” (chocolate lava cake with a dollop of vanilla based gelato with chocolate shavings).  I liked this dish, the gelato accompanied the chocolate cake perfectly. If the gelato had been chocolate, there wouldn’t have been any contrast, but with the vanilla based it gave it a nice balance and contrast.

Lastly, I ordered the “cheesecake/pistache/rhubarbe” (cheese cake with pistachios and rhubarb). At first taste, I did not like it, nor did I like the way it looked, probably because I was expecting an American style cheese cake.  I also found the rhubarb extremely tart, but then again that’s the nature of rhubarb. Putting my prejudices aside I had to look at it with a more open and objective mind. First of all it’s made with chèvre, a goat cheese, and as I took a second, third and fourth bite, the dish actually grew on me. I probably won’t order it again, but it was nicely different in an odd way. One good thing about it, it was light and remember it was a very warm and muggy day.

Summary:  I liked the restaurants a lot. How you feel (e.g., hot and uncomfortable) can definitely impact how you perceive and taste food. I liked a lot of the dishes and some grew on me because of its novelty. The service is excellent. I found it amusing that the owner and wait staff once they detect an English/American accent want to speak English. So, either they’re being accommodating, or they just want to practice their English, because we all spoke French.

Note:  aircondtioning at bistros, brasseries, or most restaurants are NOT the norm.  Parisians do not believe in airconditioning, some “wives-tale” that moving air will make you sick, I say it’s germs, but what do I know.  With that said, and with warmer weather approaching, I say bring a hand fan or ask to sit al fresco, if they have al fresco dining.  But be forewarned, people can smoke at al fresco tables.  I have friends that cannot stand being inside stuffy restaurants, so they literally seek out restaurants that have air conditioning, you may want to do the same. After all, part of enjoying a meal is being able to enjoy it in a comfortable setting, n’est-ce pas?

Also, sadly,  the American Chef, Kevin O’Donnell will only be there for another 3-weeks. But the good news is he’s opening up his own restaurant in his home state of Rhode Island. So, you folks out there be on the lookout. He’s a very talented Chef!

With two bottles of syrah and two glasses of rosé our total bill for 4-people came to 174€.


  1. "I found it amusing that the owner and wait staff once they detect an English/American accent want to speak English." After two years in NYC with the James Beard Foundation, the manager, Charles Compagnon, perfected his New Yorkese, Bay Area folks might be puzzled, but not those from the Upper West Side.

    1. I so agree...they dont want to hear your french accent or have the patience to practice...they are just showing off!....

  2. Fantastique blog J'aime le poste beaucoup! Lecture très intéressante et utile. Je reviens à l'avenir de vérifier vos messages. Merci de partager pensées merveilleuses. Thumbs up! manger à paris