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)!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Les Chouettes


32, Rue de Picardie
75003 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 44 61 73 21
Web: www.restaurant-les-chouettes-paris.fr
Ouvert tous les jours de 8 h à 1h
Metro: Temple #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+)

 2.5 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 4 - Bell


Chouette in "argo" (French slang) means, "KOOL". This restaurant has the physical appearance of kool, but that's where it stops.

The main bar

The front of the restaurant is very deceiving, because as you enter it has the vibe of a very trendy, almost upscale restaurant you'd find in NYC or San Francisco. As you entered there are a few tiled mirrors on the walls and ceilings, hmm, I thought we stepped into someone's bedroom. But as we entered the main dining room, all I could say was wow, quite impressive. It is a 3-story restaurant. It's almost as if you were in a fancy, redone silo. At one side of the main floor "silo" sat a bar. Yep, they have a full bar. Imagine that in a Parisian dining establishment.

Main room with 3-stories, and atop is a large glass room,
which would be great during the day
First impressions: Attractive interior, trendy, young, and extremely noisy. Our wait-person deposited our menus and asked if we wanted a drink from the bar. Now keep this in mind, this is a full bar. So JJ ordered a "pastis"  a very French aperitif.  The wait-person said she'd ask the bartender if they have any. She came back and said no, imagine a very common French aperitif not available at a full service bar?.  So,  JJ ordered a martini blanc which is a white sweet vermouth served over ice. As we waited for the drink we perused the menu.  By the way, the martini blanc never came either. The menu was not at all extensive, which I don't mind, since my philosophy has always been, "the less, the better." It's very simple and straight-forward, there were 3-entrées, 3-plats, and 3-desserts.

We sat, and waited, and waited, the drink never came. Finally, the Maitre'd came and took our order and one of our friends ordered a bottle, unfortunately I don't remember the name of the wine and I ordered a glass of rosé.  In the interim, we asked for some water. After what seemed forever, two of our entrees showed up. JJ never got his martini blanc, nor did any of us get our wine, to be told after they placed our two entrées they didn't have the wine we originally requested,  JJ ordered another bottle this time, a "Pic Saint Loup", and I had to remind them I ordered the glass of rosé.

Since we sat close to the bar I could see the one-bartender mixing drinks and cleaning glasses. We were not immediately served our wines because they didn't have any clean glasses and our wait person had to wait until they dried a few. Finally the wine came, but no water, so we asked for water again.

Fortunately, the remaining 2-entrées came, but still no water, so we asked for the third time. I guess the 3rd time was the charm, because our wait-person grabbed an available bottle of water from the bar counter.


ENTRÉES



Lasagne de Langoustines, tonka et parmesan (Lasagna scampi, tonka beans and parmesan). The dish was simply presented, nice flavors associated the creaminess of butter and cream.  The pasta appeared to be home-made. Good start.








Encornets frits, fenouil et piquillos, poudre de speck (Fried squid, fennel and piquillo peppers, powder pork).  JJ thought the sauces were a bit out of the ordinary, but I thought they were mild and creamy and did not distract from the main ingredient, the squid. I thought the squid was perfectly grilled. It was a good dish.











Copeaux de bonite et haddock, oeuf mimosa et savora (Bonito shavings and haddock, mimosa egg and savora/ground herbs).  The dish was garnished with eggs and some salmon caviar in addition to the main ingredient the haddock and flavorings. I'm not one for very sour dishes. But I found this entrée extremely sour. JJ loved it, but then again he can eat lemons like oranges. So not my favorite entrée.







PLATS


Pavé de lieu jaune, crème de carottes, cresson et pamplemousse (Pollock steak, carrot cream, watercress and grapefruit).  I had a taste of it, and I found there was a slight bitter aftertaste from the skin; however, the two who ordered it liked it. I do have to say that the fish was nicely cooked and it was very moist.









Croustillant de lapin, fèves et duxelles (Crispy rabbit, beans and mushrooms).  This dish reminded me of a German "rouladen" the difference being it was rolled in nice crispy batter.   The juxtaposition of the crispiness and the moist rabbit was a nice flavor and texture combination. No complaint with this dish.








Filet de cochon ibérique au citron confit, asperges et pommes purée (Iberian pork fillet with lemon confit, asparagus and mashed potatoes).  I liked this dish. The pork was nicely cooked and more importantly the asparagus was not overcooked. Most French like their vegetables cooked through, so it was nice to have a nice crunch.  The potatoes were buttery and creamy delicious.








DESSERTS


Mousse de sésame grillé, caramel sale et glacé lin (Toasted sesame mousse, caramel and ice cream). The person who had this dessert thought it was very interesting, since it was her first time to have the main ingredient dessert ingredient as sesame. I told her it was not uncommon to have sesame in many desserts from the Maghreb as well as Asia. She loved the dessert and thought it was not only unique, but delicious!








Citron yuzu, meringue italienne et glace basilic (Yuzu lemon, meringue and ice basil).  JJ likes all things lemon, so this was the perfect desert for him. It was tart, and sweet and the basil ice cream added a nice touch.












Assiette de fromage (Cheese Plate).  As usual I had the cheese plate. No complaints here. Whoever sourced their cheese did a great job.













SUMMARY

As I've mentioned in previous post, the dining experience should be about the WHOLE experience from when you make the reservation until you leave. They did not deliver. The food was beautifully presented and in some cases the dishes were outstanding. The service was abysmal. It is common in many French restaurants that the food be served warm, but not pipping hot; however, all of our food arrived less than lukewarm.  Prior reviews mentioned that this is a "one off" kind of restaurant.  It's the kind of the restaurant you go once to see, but then leave it to others who can handle the noise and the schizophrenic service.

There's been a long standing rumor in Paris that Americans do not always get their utensils "changed-out" between courses, whereas the French expect this. Well this restaurant proved that this rumor is alive and well. When we finished our first course our wait-person did not change out our utensils, but changed out one for one of our guests. I decided to check the other tables to see if the utensils were changed out for the French, and, yes, indeed they were. This really angered me. After-all, for this caliber of restaurant there should be no question that this should be done. They may have been short on utensils and glasses, hence, the long wait to get our drinks. But that is still NO excuse.

Lastly, maybe minor for some, but for this type of restaurant, do you think they can keep paper towels or a hand dryer in the bathroom? They apparently ran out. Running out of things seems to be a trend here. So, what did they replace the empty paper towels with, toilet paper? Well how absolutely elegant is that?

Will I go back, ABSOLUTELY NOT. As I mentioned, this is a "one-off".  And, it's a shame cause the food was pretty good. And for this reason I ranked it much higher than usual. For a bottle of wine, and a glass of rosé our bill came to 201€ or 101 per couple.












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