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)!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Restaurant Review -- Le Bistrot du Maquis


69 Rue Caulaincourt, 75018
Tel:  01 46 06 06 64
Metro: Lamarck-Caulincourt (line 12)
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday lunch.

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

We were invited to have lunch with one of our favorite couple who lives in the 18eme where this restaurant is located. In fact, it's our old neighborhood of Montmartre.  Walking to the restaurant around the Lamarck-Caulaincourt brought back a lot of good memories.

We were told by our friend J that the chef and owner, Andre Le Letty has quite the pedigree, having worked at some of the notable restaurants such as Anacreon, L'Agassin, Ledoyen, Prunier and the Tour d'Argent to name a few.

As we entered, it's not a large restaurant but very, very cozy. Our friends were already there and was greeted by the Chef himself. He greeted us and poured us some of the wines that our friends ordered. The Chef's wife, who runs the front of the house provided us with 3-menus. Their standard menu, a chalk-board of their standard fare, which you can mix and match, and finally a menu listing the special of the day.


Two of us ordered the "Menu of the Day", and J and I ordered a la carte.

ENTREES:



Two ordered the "Salade de gésiers" (gizzard salad).  The greens were very good and it was tossed in a nice vinaigrette dressing. But we all agreed that the gésiers were a bit well done.

I had the "Cassolette d'escargots a la creme de carottes et gingembre" (snail casserole with cream of carrot and ginger). I absolutely loved this dish. First of all, it was a colorful dish. The Chef must've added a touch of turmeric to add the brilliant color of the soup, but the spice was very subtle.  The light creamy sauce/soup that surrounded the perfectly cooked snails was delicious. And, what's a cassollette without the beans. He had perfectly cooked white beans which complimented the dish. No one flavor was overwhelming. It was a well composed dish and I could see eating a larger portion of that dish as a main course.

PLATS:

J had the "Poitrine de veau braisé a l'ail des ours, legumes printaniers" (Breast of veal braised with garlic, spring vegetables).   Although all the dishes were beautifully presented, this won the prize for the prettiest of all our dishes. I tasted the poitrine, and I must say the meat was so tender and juicy. Veal doesn't have a strong flavor, but the subtle infusion of the garlic made it perfect. J wanted it a little saltier, so asked for salt, whereas I thought it was perfectly seasoned.

I find that most vegetables cooked in France are way over-cooked for my liking. But the vegetables accompanying this dish were perfect, they were al-dente.

JJ had the "Croustillant de boudin noir avec pommes" (Blood sausage with an apple encased in a crispy pastry). I liked the juxtaposition of crispy from the pastry, sweet from the apples, and savory from the blood sausage. The Chef only used the filling of the blood sausage, so it made sense to encase it, since blood sausage not in its casing can be pretty ugly and unappealing. I thought it was a very good dish.  JJ especially liked the potatoes. It appeared the Chef baked it and molded into a round, since they were not mashed, but extremely moist and tender. And, the accompanying jus was a nice cohesive element to this dish. In it's simplicity came some wonderful textures and flavors.


C. ordered the "Fricassee de cuisse de poulet à l'estragon" (Chicken leg fricassee with tarragon). She absolutely loved this dish. I had a taste of it and thought it was very good. It reminded me a of a de-constructed "chicken-pot-pie" but without the pastry crust.  The flavors were all very subtle and unlike a a traditional chicken-pot-pie the sauce/soup was light and not thickened with corn starch but thickened more with cream and butter. And, the chicken was very tasty with the tarragon seasoning.  


I had the "Poitrine de porc rôti au thym" (Roast belly pork with thyme). There seems to be a theme in the Chef's dishes, in its simplicity comes flavor.  I loved this dish. Some may not like it because pork belly does have the characteristic fat that should be eaten. The pork had a nice crispy exterior and a very succulent tender interior. It was accompanied with carrot and pearl onions with a fabulous mold of potato slices and charred on top to give a nice crunchy element. And, the jus was a perfect accompaniment. I loved this dish.


DESSERTS:


JJ, ordered the "Nage de Rhubarbe aux épices douces, glace yaourt" (Poached Rhubarb with sweet spices, yoghurt ice).  It was a very, very simple dessert. Although JJ can eat very, very tart rhubarb or for that matter anything citrus, he said the rhubarb was neither overly tart nor overly sweet. The poaching mellowed out the tartness, which I prefer and the nice cooled yoghurt was refreshing. Overall, it was a good dessert.





C. was looking forward to the the "Ile Flotant" (Floating Island) that they had as a special offering at the beginning of the meal; unfortunately, they no longer had any. So C. ordered the "Citron meringue" (lemon meringue). The pudding was layered with a cake. She said it was very good.










With the meals we had two very good bottles of wines. One of each, a red and a white from Château Larchère!















SUMMARY:

There seems to be a theme with the Chef's meals, "SIMPLE but SOLID".  The Chef's pedigree shows. My favorite dish was the entrée of the "Cassolette d'escargots", which I would go back for in a nano-second. My least favorite was the gesiérs salad, only because I thought the gesiérs were over-cooked, but I can overlook that considering everything else was either very good or just plain excellent.  Their "Plat-du-jour" (daily specials) is extremely reasonably priced, with 2-courses for 16€ or all 3-courses for 20€. With 3-entrées, 4-plats, 2-desserts, 2-bottles of wine, and 1 coffee, which as "comped" because they ran out of the "Ile Flotant",  our meal came to 142€. So would I come back? ABSOLUTELY,  I'd come back in a heart beat. Chapeau Chef!







3 comments :

  1. This sounds like one place I must try when I come to Paris. As I don't eat red meat, I may have to go with the 'poulet' or the 'canard'. Simple dishes are usually the best way to go.
    Cheers,
    Stephan

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  2. When a meal is "comped" ...it eventually leads to conclusion such as """" I'd come back in a heart beat"""". My question: wouldyou go back if he meal wasnot...............comped?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment. As stated in my disclosure I neither accept comped meals, nor do I accept advertisements.

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