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)!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Champeaux -- Restaurant Review


Forum des Halles La Canopée 75001 Paris
Phone: 01 53 45 84 50
Hours: 11:30 am to 12 pm Monday-Thursday
11:30 am to 1 am Friday-Sunday
Metro: Châtelet or Les Halles
Website:  https://www.restaurant-champeaux.com/en

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+)

3.25 - Star......................................................€€€......................................................... 1 - Bell


I was never a fan of the old "Les Halles"; it was a run down "seedy" area of Paris. But with the revitalization beginning 2010 it has really transformed. If you walked around, it has the feel of a US mega-mall of yester-year. It has really, really transformed. Some would hate the modernism and the feeling that you could be anywhere, but I sorta like the new area.


The restaurant is an Alain Ducasse creation, but at the helm is Chef Bruno Brangea, who himself has worked at some pretty notable restaurants. The restaurant by any standard is enormous. As you enter, you see a huge American style bar, in fact a cocktail bar.



The restaurant is very modern. There are long booths and tables, lots of windows that give it a very open feel, and there is also al-fresco dining, if you prefer. The restaurant is billed as a cocktail/bar restaurant. And, the mixologist is French Canadian Marjolaine Arpin, unfortunately, she wasn't there, but would be doing a later shift, we were told.

We were seated by the bar, how apropos.  What caught our eyes was the huge "black board"on the wall, and it would update, just as they do at European train stations, noise and all. We found it gimmicky, but loved it.


We perused the menu, now I have to say this is definitely a departure from the French style menus we're use to.  It was a very "American Style" menu. It almost felt like the sports bar menus we have in the U.S.  They also had the special of the day, which was odd, because they ran out of the special before we even had a chance to order, oh well. Also, the English translation online was really, really off, unless they had substitutions for the day. For example, the "Roasted fillet of duckling with peach" was actually duck with figs, not peach. Fortunately, we had the French menu, and it was much more accurate. To be fair, it might also be because they change the menu daily, hence, the menus are not synchronized with their online menu.

Note: As an aside, if you can read French, always order from a French menu. Many times, the English translated menus are incorrect. For example, one time I saw "Breath of duck", when it should've been "Breast of duck". 


COCKTAILS

Normally, I do not like cocktails in Paris. They're usually never made right, and they're very light in the alcohol department. Our wait-person told us that the bartender was trained in
Canada, where she's from and would be there later. So I spoke to her assistant and asked if he can make a dirty martini, not on the menu.  He said he could. So the first batch he made, he had me taste it, there was just way too much vermouth in it. I just like a hint or none at all. So, I gave him feedback and he remade it without vermouth.  Then friends ordered margaritas, and he had them taste it as well, and they responded that it was way too sour from the limes. The bartender asked if he should add more sugar and my friends said more cointreau. Without question, he redid theirs to their liking as well. So "un-french" to accommodate the diners. Cocktails and the concept of "mixology" is not as well known in Paris as in e.g., San Francisco or NYC, but they're starting to become more and more popular, and my guess is they will vastly improve over the next year or so, as what happened with the coffee in Paris (click on this link for reference "Cafe in Paris")



ENTRÉE

Lobster Soufflé.  I shared the lobster soufflé with a friend. As it came, we were told to punch a hole
in the center which the waiter then poured the "light bisque" into. At first bite we said, wow, it was very light and airy, the way a soufflé should taste, but mixed with the sauce that was poured, it may have been described as a light bisque, but the lobster flavor was intense and delicious. My guess is that the lobster "tamale"was used for the intense flavoring.  Overall an excellent start.









Eggplant with pesto- This was a very simple entrée, 3-chunks of eggplant nicely seasoned with a pesto, but the pesto and accompanying sauces had strong notes of citrus, which was great for JJ since he likes all things sour, but not so good for me.







PLATS


"Roasted fillet of duckling with peach" on the English menu it was actually duck with figs, not peach. I'm not a fan of sweet anything on savory dishes. However, my friend really liked this dish and I had a bite of the duck breast, and it was cooked perfectly, very moist and succulent.










Entrecôte (ribeye steak).  I had the rib eye steak and you had several choices of accompaniments, I selected it with fries. And, you also had different choices for an accompanying sauce, I selected a shallot sauce. I ordered the steak cooked medium rare, or in French, "a point". For most Americans this steak would be a little tough because the steak is grass fed versus grain fed as in the US and thus is not as marbled. I liked it, it was good, but nothing out of the ordinary.





Pollock with radish and grapes.  JJ ordered this dish.  The fish was moist and as you can see from the photo, I took a small bite of it. First thought as I took a bite, this has a very fishy taste, which is fine because I like that taste, but this is not a dish for everyone. JJ thought it was an OK dish, nothing extraordinary; however, he found the accompaniment good, albeit it would be quite sweet for some.








WINE

CHINON--DOMAINE Bernard Baudry.  Is a wine from the central Loire Valley. The typical quintessential Chinon wine is tannic, leafy, berry-scented Cabernet Franc. I liked it because it was a very light red.













SUMMARY

From what I've read, it is said this restaurant is not for everyone.  And, I would agree. If you're looking for a typical Parisian restaurant, you can forget it.  It's very industrial, high-tech, and net-net has a very modern feel.  Surprisingly though, not un-cozzy.  It also has some charm such as the old rail station signage. Although it's located in a mall, it is anything but mall food. It's an enormous restaurant by any standards, but what impressed me most was the charm and personalization of the service despite the size.  The service was beyond reproach.

It is billed as a cocktail/bar restaurant. As for the cocktails, the assistant bartender had textbook knowledge of cocktail recipes, but not quite there yet with the execution. Our wait-person did say we should come back when the bartender arrives later that day. But I give lots of points to the assistant bartender and the restaurant for replacing our cocktails, without question, to our liking.

As for the food, oddly, they don't quite yet have their quantities in sync with their anticipated volume of diners. So, from our perspective it was weird that they were out their special of the day by 12:45 pm, when we ordered. The train station departure board had several off menu items on it when we entered the empty restaurant at 12:30 and by 12:45 the board was cleared.  And during our meal the board kept updating about stuff that would be available later in the afternoon for their 'afternoon' (not lunch) service. We agreed the soufflés were excellent. The plats were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. This is a great place to go if you are in the area, or need to shop and are hungry for a meal or just want a cocktail.  My overall rating would've been lower, however, the service and ambience bumped it up.  It is an above average restaurant that has the potential to becoming a "go-to-place". Bottom line they do need to do some fine tuning such as getting the bartender's assistant more training and knowledge. But I am very confident that will happen over time. Would we return, ABSOLUTELY.

With 5-cocktails, 1 large bottle of water, 4-entrées, 6-plats, bottle of wine, 2-glasses of rosé and 1-coffee our bill came to 60€ per person for 6-people. 









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