|30 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth|
Metro: Temple #3
Tel: 01 43 56 22 95
(closed Saturday and Monday for lunch and all day Sunday)
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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)
4.0 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell
Our good friend J recommended we try this restaurant near "Place de la République". This area was known more for retail and wholesale clothing and is slowly adding new and exciting restaurants. We were told by our waiter that the name of the restaurant was inspired by the cartoon character (an elephant) and the simplicity of the name, besides it reflects the personality of the relatively young 32-year old Chef Simon Horwitz's fondness for the cartoon character. The restaurant is relatively new and we were told that the menu was inspired by his many luminary mentors as well as his past travels through Asia and Latin America.
By Parisian standards, it's a large restaurant, with a very large kitchen. The kitchen is open for public viewing, which I always like, because in my book a clean well run kitchen is always a good indication that they also take pride in their food.
On one side of the restaurant was a bookshelf with whimsical books and artifacts or more like homage to the cartoon character Elmer. They also had a rotisserie serving up a special breed of French chicken called "Coucou de Rennes". As I mentioned, it's a large restaurant and comfortably sits 51 people.
The menu was printed with a date on it, so it leads me to believe that the menu is changed or modified daily. On the menu there was a "Plat du Jour" in this case it was the "Echine de porc, carrottes et champiagnons de Paris rosés" (pork loin). And, they also listed suggested wines by the glass to pair with your meal at very reasonable prices.
J decided not to have an entrée so we ordered two.
Maquereau mariné, fenouil, pomme verte et estragon Mexican, (marinated mackerel, fennel, green apple, and Mexican tarragon). The mackerel tasted pickled and very vinegary. It was a bit too vinegary for me, but for JJ, who likes all things sour, this was perfect for him.
Moelle de boeuf, betterave, cive, crouton et jus de viande, (beef marrow, beets, chives, crouton and gravy). I absolutely loved this dish. The bone marrow was in little morsels accompanied with 3-types of beets (yellow, red and rainbow). Underneath all of this was a pesto of chives. And, there was a nice sprinkling of chunky "sel de mer" (sea salt) to tie it all together. The beauty of this dish was that it not only had wonderful flavors of the rich fattiness from the marrow, but also sweetness from the beets. And, it had different textures, so basically it hit every sensation in your mouth. This was a very well composed dish and my favorite dish of the day.
Today there were two main courses that were served for two. It was the pork ribs or the lamb shoulder.
Travers de couchon du Ventoux, (pork ribs from the Ventous area of France). Individual plates of vegetables were served without the ribs, however, the ribs were served on one platter to be shared by J and I. No, they were not barbecued pork ribs, my guess was they were roasted and given a quick broil. And, no they were not falling of the bone, as we would have it in the US. Regardless, this dish was delicious. The pork was moist and succulent and although it didn't pull away from the bone, it also wasn't difficult to remove it from the bone. J and I both loved the dish and the accompanying sauce. Pork in France always has a nice helping of salt. And, these ribs were no exception. It had a nice sprinkling of chunky "sel de mer." Now there's a difference between sprinkling for added flavor versus cooked it into a dish, although the accompanying vegetables like the roasted radicchio were very nice, the spinach was almost too salty to eat. Otherwise, the dish would've been perfect.
Since I don't eat sugar, I asked if they had a plate of cheese; unfortunately, they did not, but that was OK since I was already getting full.
Ganache chocolat, caramel demi sel, flocons de faisselle, (Chocolate ganache, caramel salt, cottage cheese flakes). J ordered this dish, and he absolutely loved it. On the other hand I thought it was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. They used a high content cocoa, my guess is definitely higher than 60%, probably 70%, because it had that nice characteristic of rich bittersweet chocolate. And, the added caramel was a nice accompaniment.
Overall the food was above average, but the charm and ambience of the restaurant coupled with the excellent service elevated my over-all rating. There was one notable miss, such as the spinach was almost too salty to eat, and although the entrées and plats were excellent, the desserts albeit good were just too plain and simple for this calibre of restaurant. I would also hope that in the future they would offer a cheese plate as an alternative to sweet desserts.
For 2-entrées, 3-plats, 2-desserts, one bottle of "Côtes de Rhones" and "Mentor salon Remorte", and one coffee our bill came to 187€ or around 63€ each.
Would we go back ABSOLUTELY!