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)!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Auberge Nicolas Flamel -- Restaurant Review


Auberge Nicolas Flamel
51 Rue de Montmorency, 75003 Paris
Tel 01-42-71-77-78
Metro: Rambuteau or Arts et Métiers

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 - Star..........................................................................................................................1 - Bell

Funny how you come full circle. This restaurant is located a block from where we used to live in Le Marais, but it’s such an obscure building, and not a busy street, so I’m sure we’ve passed by it many times unnoticed. It’s been around quite a long time (the building since 1407!).

As most of my readers know, I’m about the whole dining experience, so I did not get off to a good start at all. JJ had tried to call several times to make reservations. The only way to make reservations is to call or go there in person since they neither take reservations online nor a member of  "La Fourchette".  JJ finally got through, then was put on hold for about 10-minutes, so he just hung up and gave up.  I on the other hand tried about 6 more times that same afternoon, only to get a message that their mailbox was full and could no longer take messages.  So, the last resort was to go there in person: fortunately for us we had lunch plans with friends nearby a few days before we were to meet our friend at Auberge.

Upon entering, it felt quite homey and it is a really quite beautiful old building with aged beams, white table cloths, just an overall beautiful restaurant. It has a handful of tables on the main floor, but they had more tables on the second floor, and you could actually have a private party on the second floor. It was not busy at all.



We perused the menu, and the prices were extremely reasonable. If you got a lunch entrée/plat or plat/dessert, both comes with a drink (glass of wine) and coffee for €18.50, and if you have all 3 courses including a drink and coffee it was €25, wow, what a deal especially for a beautiful restaurant in a great neighborhood.



OK, on to the food.

AMUSE BOUCHE:



We had little parmesan muffins.  I liked it a lot, the parmesan flavor was very intense and that’s exactly how I like it.











ENTRÉES:



I opted for the “veloute de châtaigne copeaux de foie gras et croutons” (Velvety chestnut and foie gras croutons).  This soup is not for the lactose intolerant, in fact, I had to make sure I took medication afterwards. It is extremely rich, because of the copious amount of cream used. But I have to say this was my favorite. The foie gras had a distinct flavor and the chestnuts gave it that nice thick texture as well. This was a hit.





JJ had the “crème de courgette fromage frais et saumon fume” (zucchini, sour cream  and smoked salmon). Again, another very rich cream based soup not for the lactose intolerant. I have to say I tasted it and the overwhelming taste was the smoked salmon and I found it as equally delicious as I did the “chestnut” soup.  So, we’re off to a good start.




Our friend opted to have two entrées rather than the menu. So, for his first course he had the “sautéed foie gras”.  He found the foie gras a bit overcooked, and it was incorporated with a sweet element of fruit. I personally don’t like sweet anything on my foie gras, so I passed on tasting it.









PLATS:

JJ had the “Filet de bar a la soupe du pecheur et petits legumes” (Fillet of sea bass was the soup of the fisherman and small vegetables).  The fish was meaty but not tasty, hence, JJ asked for much needed salt and pepper which he rarely asks for.  The sauce was heavy, but not like the creamy soups, but more like a gravy. The vegetables of zucchini, carrots and turnips were cooked perfectly and not overcooked which the French are known for doing.





I had the “Tourte d'agneau et patates douces” (Lamb pie and sweet potatoes). I have to say this was my least, least, favorite dish of the day. It was like a chicken pot pie covered with puff pastry.  My first thought, the meat was very stringy and dry, they pureed some of the sweet potatoes to make a thick soup base, and had potatoes as a filler. It was just a very mushy, tasteless dish. I only wished I had some hot sauce, maybe I should start sticking it in my bag so I can whip some out when I have boring food!




Our friend had the other entrée “sauteed sweetbreads (without the black truffle slices)”.  He found his dish was overcooked as well, however, he did like the accompanying sauce.





DESSERTS:


As usual, I had the cheese plate. No complaints, I got a nice combination of a strong blue cheese, a comté and a goat cheese.












The two had the dessert de jour, which consisted of a chocolate cake, ice cream, a sweet muffin and a strawberry slice. All agreed the ice cream was the best.











SUMMARY:

I thought for the price, the location and the ambience it was great. The food is beautifully presented, but "there's more to taste than meets the eye". The food was unexceptional, and I would not go out of my way for a meal here.  However, if I am in the neighborhood and needed a passable meal, good atmosphere for a reasonable price, I would go back. Because the food was just “SO-SO”, therefore,  I gave it an overall ranking of 3, supported mostly by the ambiance and price!


With a 2 bottles of a Corsican wine, “Saint Amerttu” our total bill came to €147 for the 3 of us.








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