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)!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Les Grandes Bouches -- Restaurant Review


78 Rue de Lévis, 75017 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 43 80 40 36
Metro: Villiers (Lines 2 or 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+)

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

A good friend of mine from my old Berkeley days came to visit Paris and was staying in the 17eme. I am not familiar with restaurants in that area, but decided it would be best to eat in that arrondissment since she just arrived and rather than schlepping around Paris on the metro she could easily walk back to her hotel. I came across this restaurant, it's really quite cute very cozy and in a great location of the 17eme.  We got the private room to the left of the above picture, but the main room itself was quite lovely and cozy and very open. Surprisingly, it wasn't a very busy night.





We perused the menu. They had a pre-fix. They had quite a nice selection. The pre-fix dinner of all 3-courses was 42€.
















As we continue perusing the menu, we received some nice appetizers of tapenade and toasted crackers, and some paté of poultry.  The tapenade was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. Same was true for the paté, but they were a nice treat and a good start.












ENTRÉES:


My friend got the Fleur de courgette, brocciu, olives de kalamata, "Zucchini flower, brocciu, kalamata olives".  The brocciu was a Corsican chèvre cheese.  The presentation was absolutely gorgeous! It was a cold dish where the flower was stuffed with the cheese surrounded by delicious cubed zucchini. Since it was a warm night, I found this dish to be so wonderfully refreshing!  This dish was a hit.



I had the Tartare de homard, riz cremeux condiment a la mandarine japonaise, "lobster tartare, creamy rice and a condiment Japanese mandarin". There wasn't alot of the lobster tartare, but what was there was delicious. The creamy rice was actually like a formed risotto. It was cold dish. The rice was still a little bit al-dente, which I liked alot. Another good dish.




Finally, JJ got the Carpaccio de tete de veau au boluts, "Carpaccio of veal head and snails". This was my favorite entrée of the lot. The veals head was delicious and the snails added a nice sort of ying-yang to the dish. The herbs were delicious, it had some tartness, which gave the dish a nice balance. Great dish!





PLATS:

Two of us had the Ris d'agneau en navarin de printemps, jus safrané, "Lamb sweetbreads with spring saffron juice".  This was a nice simple dish with lots of vegetables. Unusual for most Parisian restaurants, meaning that there was alot of vegetables. The sweetbreads were lightly fried and sat atop turnips sweet pea pods, mushrooms and green peas that still had some crunchiness and was not overcooked. I liked the dish, sweetbread was very moist.  The dish was good and well executed.



Lastly, my friend had the Lotte rotie au beurre d'agrumes, artichaut, courgette, condiment bigarrade coriandre, "Roasted monkfish with citrus butter, artichoke, zucchini, cilantro". This was an excellent dish. I loved the moistness of the fish with the accompanying vegetables that till had a nice crunch to it. Oftentimes, vegetables are overcooked and limp, but these were perfectly cooked. The cilantro cream was a nice touch. Another well executed dish that hit the mark.

NOTE: The plats were a tad bit on the salty side for my taste, but oftentimes in France, they not only use the salt as salt, but also as a flavoring agent. None-the-less the dishes were delicious!

DESSERT:

I was already full and did not have my proverbial cheese plate, but the two ordered a rhubarb gateau to share. Both loved the dish. Underneath the flat sweet cake was a melange of rhubarb and strawberries and cherries. The dish was perfect, not too sweet so you could taste the different elements of the fruit. Another hit!







Lastly, we did get a few petit fours on the house as a nice surprise. They weren't anything special and consisted of different types of meringue and sablé, a kind of butter crust cooke.  None-the-less, it was a nice ending to a fabulous meal.  





SUMMARY:

What an excellent find in the 17eme.  I'm surprised it wasn't very busy at all. It's definitely a gem that needs to be discovered. The "freebies" were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. The entreés, plats and dessert were definitely above average. The atmosphere was lovely, and if you want a more intimate room with an open feel, ask for that side room.  And, the service was EXCELLENT.  I would go more often, but it's clear across town from us, but it is worth the trip.

With a bottle of Saint Estephe and half a bottle of Fuilly the bill came to 187€ for 3-people.

NOTE:  From what I've read, it appears ALL the food is made on the premise, which is always a good thing. Many restaurants in Paris have small kitchens and rely on bringing some dishes in, such as e.g., desserts!

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