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, February 21, 2016

Le Bistro Méricourt -- Restaurant Review


22 Rue de la Folie Méricourt
75011 Paris
Tel: 01 43 38 94 04
Metro: Saint Ambrose line #9
Web: www.lebistromericourt.com
Email: Resa@lebistromericourt.com
Only open for dinners (call for days open)
Reservations accepted online and through La Fourchette

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+)

4.5 - Star......................................................€€€ ......................................................... 3 - Bell

This restaurant was highly recommended by good friends of ours, so we went. It's in an odd location in the 11eme, but then again a lot of really good restaurants are off the beaten path. Prior to going, I decided to do a little research.  Overall the restaurant got fairly good reviews, but I'll be the judge of that.  The Chef de cuisine is Mehdi Kebboul, a "Top Chef" France candidate in 2012, although he was won out by Chef Jean Ibert, many candidates like himself have gone on to bigger and better things, such as Pierre Sang Boyer who has a his namesake restaurant in the same area.

The restaurant is really small.  They probably have 30-seats at most. The atmosphere is pretty bare and stark. There are two tables that sit up high where you actually need barstool chairs to sit, thankfully we sat at a regular height table, since I find the tall ones uncomfortable. There are also a few tables for 2 or 4 people, and one very long set of tables against the side of the wall, which means you're going to get pretty intimate and friendly with your neighbors, which to me is a good thing, unless you're out for a romantic dinner.



Although we speak French the waiters liked speaking English, probably since half their clientele tonight were foreigners or English speakers and one waiter in particular I think wanted to practice his English, since it was obvious he was struggling and we didn't always understand him.

The concept of the restaurant is very simple, you have a 5-course tasting menu for 55€. The menu changes; hence, if you are allergic to something, you must let them know in advance so they can accommodate your dietary needs.

We were a little late and our friends had already started on some aperitifs. We order some as well and shortly thereafter we we were given an amuse bouche of a cheese gorgere topped off with pink trout, and garnished with a small edible flower. At first glance I thought it was topped with salmon, but the waiter assured us it was pink trout. Once we tasted it, there was no mistaking it was trout. It packed a punch with some smoky notes and the gorgère was a nice vehicle for the trout.  It was a good start.











ENTRÉES

Fried Quail accompanied with the following trio of sauces: mango, beets, and Spanish peppers topped off with fresh pomegranates. The quail was very, very tasty and the accompanying sauces were very complimentary to the dish. What was nice was that he added espelette to the Spanish sauce, you could taste it and it brought another element of flavor, but not overwhelming.  If there was any minor, minor complaint, it was some of the breading detached from the quail.





Lentils with scallop.   Our waiter called the underlying lentils "soup", I would not call it soup, because you could eat it with a fork. So, it was a dish of scallops sitting atop a thick creamed mildly spicy lentils garnished with a single braised green onion stalk and a squeeze of lemon.  I always associate lentils with pork in France, so this was a new combination for me. Regardless, it was a great dish, the lentils were perfectly cooked and the lentils turned out to be a nice accompaniment.






PLATS

Escargot. This was a very interesting dish. They were snails atop a polenta with chorizo sauce, flavored with basil and cilantro. I absolutely loved this dish, because it was a dish that's so "un-French"; it was thinking outside of the box.  The chorizo added a whole new dimension of flavors with it's spiciness.  And, who would've thought a chorizo could be such a great sauce.  The polenta was great to balance out the richness of the dish.  Overall, a well composed delicious dish.



Red Mullet.  This was another favorite of mine, it was a red mullet fish sitting atop a very large ravioli stuffed with chopped squid and tied together by a squid ink sauce. It's a rich dish, the squid ink had the distinctly briny ocean taste, which I like.  It was topped with some chopped mango which cut back some of the brininess.  Only minor complaint I had was that the outer layer of the ravioli I found a little tough, but everyone loved the fact that it was very "al-dente", so I was overruled.




Colvert duck.  This was a French duck stuffed with foie gras tied together by a cognac sauce. And, on top was some bok choy. This was an extremely tasty dish. The foie gras was extremely light in this otherwise rich dish. The sauce was savory, but the cognac added a nice touch of sweetness and a distinct taste. We all LOVED this dish.








DESSERT:

Palets Bretons.  Since I do not eat sugar, I had my table mates tell me what they thought. I actually figured out what they thought about the dish since I heard a lot of "ohs and ahs" and "this is interesting"  A "palet breton" is a butter cookie. It was served with a pineapple ice cream, whipped cream and baby poached pears, with a brown sugar tuile.  This was a very, very imaginative dessert. I have to confess I took a taste of the pineapple ice cream because it was actually spiced with some pepper. So, there was a little lingering spicy aftertaste. I loved it, but was shocked that the Chef took a chance to do this, since most French palates do not like spicy heat. Kudos to the Chef, what a great inventive "out-of-the-box" (figuratively) dessert.


And, lastly we were given a parting dessert of madeleines.


















SUMMARY:

Talk about finding a gem in a "funky" location.  Where this restaurant lacks in "location" and charm, it makes up for in the food.  The infusion of all the new Chefs into Paris who no longer have to "obey" the strict code of how to cook French cuisine, are evolving into culinary geniuses.  In just the short time we've lived here, I've noticed a huge change.  Sure there will always be the French staples that grandma use to make, but the new generation are seeking and exploring new and inventive cuisine.  Also, many chefs have either worked abroad or are learning from the influx of foreign chefs in Paris, such as the Japanese and incorporating new flavors into the French palate. There's more inventive "thinking-outside-of-the-box" dishes revitalizing French cuisine. And, we're very lucky to be here to see it, or should I say taste it.

With that said, the food was beyond excellent. This was our best find thus far for 2016. And. the service was also excellent. The waiters were very charming and engaging. It's not a place to go to for a romantic dinner, since it does get extremely noisy and lacks any real charm. Remember you're going for the food. There were minor flaws, but can easily be overlooked since the flavors took center stage. However, the one complaint I do have is that I wish they had printed out the menu. I realize their menu can change daily; however, how much would it cost to print out 30 menus of the day?



This is not an inexpensive restaurant, but well worth it. For 3-apéros, a bottle of "Chateau de Lagarde--Côtes de Castillon" wine from the region of Bordeaux, a very strong red with very strong notes. Definitely not a shy wine for sure. And, 2-glasses of Rosé from Provence, with a glass each of Bourgogne de Beaune red and a Saint -Véran white for dessert, our bill for 4-people came to 301€.  Will we go back, ABSOLUTELY.






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