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)!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Le Comptoir du Relais-- Restaurant Review


9 Carrefour de L'Odeon
75006 Paris
Telephone: 01 44 27 07 97
Metro: Odéon (4, 10)
Hours: Open every day


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+)

3.5 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell

This restaurant has been written and reviewed about ad-nauseum. As of late,  it's lost its luster with many food critics because it's become a bastion for tourists, a "to-go-place" in many tourist books.  In fact, I haven't been in a couple of years and the last time I was there I was extremely disappointed because the food was just average, and I had to ask the question, what's with all the hype. And, next door is "L’Avant Comptoir" the standing room only wine bar and "tapas" sister restaurant of Le Comptoir du Relais.

I decided, what the hay, let's go back and see if it's truly lost it's luster.  My best friend and I decided to go for lunch. We did not have reservations, but Le Comptoir is a restaurant where they do "turn-tables."

Not expecting to get in, we were surprised not to see a line of people out the door, as it normal for this restaurant.  A lot probably had to do with the weather, since it''s been quite damp and cold.  We got there at 1:15 pm and were told we'd have about a 10-minute wait. We could've eaten outdoors under the heating lamps, but I wanted to sit inside.


 It's a small restaurant, and diners are packed in pretty tightly. It's noisy with lots of activity.  We perused the menu. Surprisingly, they had a large wine selection. The menu was definitely adequate. We decided to share an entrée as well as a cheese plate.

ENTRÉE

Could we have ordered a more French dish. We ordered escargots. Now you could order a half-a-dozen or a dozen.  We opted for a dozen since we would share them.  We both concurred that the escargot was good, but nothing out of the ordinary, and it lacked the very strong garlic taste that one associates escargot. None-the-less they were good and we gobbled them down. The bread they served was a heavier bread, we guessed that it was probably from "Poilâne" since it's close by.





PLATS

My best friend Steve ordered the "Carré d'agneau, which was a rack of lamb atop broad white beans. The lamb was cooked just a tad above medium, and may have been too well-done for some, but for us we thought it was well cooked and delicious.  Steve was smitten with the white beans stewed with the red bell peppers, and commented he could've eaten that alone.  It did have a lot of flavors that you sense were developed through a long unhurried process.


I had the "Pied de porc",  pigs feet. I was expecting the dish to be a pig foot with all the accompanying bones, cartilage et.al., net-net a "foot".  But it was actually boned, and made into a cylindrical shape. I loved this dish. The outer skin was nice and crispy and the inside was tender, juicy, albeit a little on the fatty and grisly side, but hey, that's the characteristics of "pigs feet".  It sat atop of some mash potatoes accompanied with some lettuce greens. It's not for everyone, but I loved it.




DESSERT

For dessert we ordered a plate of mixed cheeses. Nice variety, but as I always say, you really can't go wrong with cheese in France.
















SUMMARY

This was a restaurant I frequented when I first came to Paris and I always thought it was pretty good. Then a few years ago I had a very nondescript, average meal and it coincided with the common sentiment among many food bloggers and writers that it's lost its panache and has become very average and basically a tourist trap. I'm glad I gave this restaurant another chance. Yes, it still caters to tourists, but I also noticed on this day some locals, and yes they do turn tables, unusual in Paris. However,  I think the not so nice reviews of yesterday has jarred the restaurant to go back to it's roots and cook basic, good, wholesome French cuisine, always a winning formula in my book.

Overall, we thought the food was very good, above average, but nothing really wowed us.  The service was excellent. It's not a place you go for a romantic dinner, but it's a place to go to get some good French food. Yes, they do turn tables, but unlike other restaurants who turn tables in Paris, they seem to have the formula down pack.  Would I go back. Absolutely.

For 2-people, 2-demi pichets (pitchers) of white wine, a bottle of water, and a double espresso our bill came to 116€.



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