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 17, 2016

Salt -- Restaurant Review


6 Rue Rochebrune, 75011 Paris
Metro: Line 9 Saint Ambroise
Tel + 33 (0) 1 73 71 56 98
Closed: Sundays and Mondays 

Website:  http://www.salt-restaurant.com/contact/


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


At the recommendation of our good friend, a group of 8 of us, large by Parisian standards, went to a restaurant in the 11eme arrondissement. It's not a large restaurant, but cute, lively and homey. We were warmly greeted by our host, Abigail (Abbey) who is from Sydney, Australia and also one of the owners.  Normally I do a little research before trying out a new restaurant, but unfortunately I didn't have the time, so through Abbey I learned quite a bit about this restaurant. It opened in July of last year.  It's a restaurant owned and run by Anglos from the UK as well as Australia, imagine that.  The Chef de Cuisine is Daniel Morgan, a native of Sheffield in the UK.  I later learned that he spent time in the kitchens of "The Square" in London,  the world renowned "Noma" in Copenhagen, as well as "Narisawa", which can be seen in his cooking style, which I'll explain later. And, to assist him is Sous-Chef Liam Sweeney.



As many of you know I love restaurants where I can actually see the kitchen. For me a well run clean kitchen is always a good sign of good food to come. I was amazed at the number of kitchen staff they had, I saw 5 at one time. The kitchen is ample, but not large by any means.

We perused the menu, and they had quite the selection. I've been told that their specialty is seafood, although they did have some meat dishes to please the carnivores in the group.





Abbey's enthusiasm discussing each dish was infectious. As a result, we also became enthusiastic and couldn't wait to taste what she described. Since we were a large group and many ordered varying dishes, I was only able to taste the dishes at our end of the table.









ENTRÉES

Our table decided to order each, Joues de lotte panée à la bière, mayonnaise au vadouvan (Monkfish cheeks breaded with beer, mayonnaise Vadouvan) and, Tarama, fenouil glacé, (Tarama, glazed fennel) to be shared.

As is known, monkfish is the "poor man's lobster."  Monkfish can be extremely rubbery if overcooked, but this was nicely cooked. Although an OK dish, this was my least favorite. It was a bit greasy and not as crispy as one would imagine, And, the mayonnaise didn't' help, it just made it seem oilier. The dish was very one-dimensional and I think maybe adding citrus such as a lemon or lime wedge may have helped this dish and balanced some of the greasiness.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the tarama. Tarama is of Greek and Turkish origin and is made from fish roe such as cod, carp, salmon, or grey mullet. And, can easily be purchased at supermarkets throughout France, and are typically served on blinis. This entrée is not for everyone because this dish has a distinctly strong fish flavor, which I happen to like.  Spreading the tamara on a slice of baguette, topping it with some shaved fennel elevated the dish to make it a nice appetizer. The Chef did not shy away from this bold flavor, probably from having worked in Japan.


Asperges vertes Francaises, puree de jaune d'oeuf, anguille fumée, cresson,  (French green asparagus, mashed egg yolk, smoked eel, watercress).  This may have looked like a really simple dish, but it's deceiving. The asparagus was perfectly cooked, but what brought this dish to the next level was definitely the smoked eel.  Wow, this dish packed a punch of varying flavors. The eel's unexpected smokiness was such a nice compliment.  Poached eggs are commonly served over asparagus, but this was accompanied by a smooth spooned out egg salad. Overall, we loved this dish. Again, you can definitely see the Japanese influence in this dish.



Maquereau au barbecue, sauce au lait battu, concombre, ciboulette, (Mackerel BBQ Sauce buttermilk, cucumber, chives).  Europeans have a different sense of what bbq is than Americans. I wouldn't exactly call this bbq, other than it was grilled and basted with a sweet sauce to caramelize it. Regardless, the mackerel was delicious. And, the juxtaposition of the fish with the cream and with the cool distinct crispiness of the cucumber really made it a well composed dish.







PLATS



Gigot d'agneau et ventreche frite, ail grille, pignons de pin, blettes, artichaut, asperge blanche, (Leg of lamb and fried lamb belly, garlic toast, pine nuts, Chinese cabbage, artichokes, white asparagus).  Aside from the "côte de boeuf", this was the only other meat dish in the menu. The lamb was perfectly cooked, pink and moist, and the "ying-yang" of this dish was the crispy lamb stomach served along side. It was beautifully fried and not at all greasy.  Although there seems to be a lot of elements to the dish, the sides were very complimentary. Overall, a well composed dish.


Sole entiere, beurre au levain, écrasé de courge butternut. (Whole sole, sourdough butter, mashed butternut squash).  I ordered this dish and have to say, this was the star attraction.  This is the whole fish, head, bones, fins and all. So, if you're not familiar with eating a whole fish then I would say, this dish is not for you.

If I were blind-folded and didn't know any better, I would've guessed we were at a high end Asian restaurant. To me, there was nothing French about the dish. For some the fish could've been cooked a little longer. The outer flesh was cooked perfectly, but as you got closer to the bones, it was a bit rare. The sauce was definitely asian in influence. It had a nice sweet and earthy taste about it, and with the topping of nuts gave another textural and taste bonus. The butternut squash was perfectly cooked and delicious. I have just one minor complaint about this dish. I don't like dishes where they plop greens to add color. It's like an after thought, especially when served in bundles like that. But I overlooked this platting mishap because of the absolutely wonderful flavors of this dish.

DESSERTS

Flan aux olives noires, avoine toasté au miel, orange sanguine (Flan with black olives, toasted oats with honey, blood orange).  When we read the description of this dessert, we thought, this sounds really interesting and weird, so of course we had to order it.  It's a pretty dish with edible flowers and a hint of the orange juice at the edges.  Taste wise, we tasted absolutely nothing olive about this dessert. If anything, it was very fruity, and very refreshing. Overall, it was a nice sweet, refreshing dish.




Vacherin Mont D'or fermier (soft cow's milk cheese).  And, as usual, I ordered the cheese. This is one of my favorite cheeses, they're available through France. It's a cheese that's baked quickly at hot temperature and usually served with raw apples.  It's not a strong cheese, but it has a nice warm soothing flavor of a creamy cheese, in fact if I were to use a comparison, it's like a warmed brie. It was served with a nice crunchy nutty bread with a compote of sweet apples.




SUMMARY

What another great find. The Chef has quite the resumé. When I saw that he worked at Noma, hmmm?  Although I do like "molecular gastronomy" and it has its place, I'm just glad that Chef Morgan did not go in that direction with this restaurant. This was wholesome good food, and definitely with a strong Asian influence, probably from his stint in Japan.  It's interesting to go to a restaurant where the owners and staff are "Anglos", but I think that's great. The injection of foreign influence in the Paris food scene has done wonders to evolve French cuisine.  The staff is warm and inviting. It does, however, get noisey in the restaurant once it fills up.  Although, their strength is in preparing and cooking seafood, they do have a few meat dishes for meat lovers.  The menu does change depending upon the season and what's available. I have only 2-complaints, the monkfish cheeks were not as crispy as one would expect and a bit too greasy for me which can easily be remedied, and it could've used some much needed citrus to balance it out.  Lastly a minor complaint, the plating of the whole sole by plopping bunches of greens is very 1980's. Had they spread out the greens and topped it with the fish, it may have been a better alternative.  Would we go back, ABSOLUTELY. I didn't get a chance to taste the other dishes.


With 11-entrées, 8-plats, 7-desserts, 1 cheese plate, 5-bottles of wine, 2 coffees, our bill came to 507€ or a little over 63€ per person. Note: average prices for the meals are reasonable, but we did have some good wines.

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