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+)
3.80 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 3 - Bell
This restaurant was recommended by my good friend E.M. It's in the 12eme arrondissement which is quite a schlep for all of us since we live on the "Rive Gauche" (left-bank). It's a pretty tight restaurant (packed-in), and the focal point of the restaurant is the very long open kitchen. In fact, there is a stainless steel bar along the kitchen where you can dine and at the end, where we were, juts out side-ways so it can accommodate 5-people easily. You literally sit next to the chef's preparing your meal. Personally, I love this because to me a well run kitchen, which this was, is a sign of good things to come. The bar seats were difficult to move, but once seated they were very comfortable. There are also tables available, if you don't want to be that up close and personal with the chefs.
The kitchen was staffed by the Chef/owner himself Bruno Verjus who was an entrepreneur, blogger and even a food critic before becoming the head chef/owner.
We perused the menu, they did have a prix-fixe lunch or what they called "menu rapide", which means "quick menu" probably for the folks who have to work. Two courses for 25€ and 29€ for 3-courses. They had a very good selection on their lunch menu. And, it looks like it changes daily because the date was printed on the menu. Oddly enough, the prix-fixe came from the regular menu, and ordering a-la-carte would've been very expensive, so the trick is to order the prix-fixe, so that's what we all did except I had cheese versus the sweet dessert. We did however have to ask what was on the prixe-fixe as they only tell you if you ask.
Lotte de L’ile de’Yeu (Lotte fish from the Island of Yeu). Lotte fish or monkfish is otherwise known as a poor man's lobster, since it's a relatively meaty fish. I thought the fish was cooked really well. It was extremely moist. I along with one other person had bones (we were 5), but that doesn't bother me at all, since I know how difficult it can be to bone fish. It was topped with "kelp" which if one has not tasted it is somewhat rubbery in texture, but I happen to like kelp. This particular kelp did not have the characteristic saltiness; either way I would've still liked it.
The brussel sprouts were al-dente, some would find this undercooked, but I like a bite to my vegetables. The fish was also served with a cannelle shaped mousse of pureed cauliflower. I really liked it because they used seeded mustard to give it a little kick. And, they also used a sprinkling of raw purple broccoli to add some freshness. And, it also had a splattering of capers, to give it a little saltiness. Overall, I really thought this was an excellently composed dish.
Assiette de fromage (cheese plate). As we entered I saw a board of whole cheeses in the middle of the bar. So, of course I had the cheese plate. But they gave me such a large portion I shared it with the whole table and we still couldn't finish it. The cheeses were great. They were all firm aged cheeses. All delicious. Like I always say, you can never go wrong with cheeses in France.
Carco -- a red wine from Corsica. I'm not normally a red wine drinker, I tasted and really enjoyed it. It's a lighter red and has some fruitiness, but not sweet. So, this Corsican wine went well with our meal.
Brand et Fils -- I really liked this wine. Two of us had a glass of it. I asked the sommelier for a recommendation. I wanted something that was not too dry but smooth. And, that's exactly what this wine was. I'm not by any means a wine expert, but the only way I can describe this is that it had a wet quality which almost quenches your thirst. I really enjoyed this wine.
The two of us who ordered the white asked for another round during dessert. Unbeknownst to us, not asked or told, we were given a different wine because the sommelier decided we should have a slightly sweeter wine. At first I was perplexed and annoyed, but after tasting the wine, we agreed it with better with the e.g., cheeses.
This is the closest you'll get to eating at a "Chef's table," assuming you ask for a seat at the bar. I happen to enjoy this style of eating, because what goes on in a kitchen tells me a lot about how the food is prepared and the cohesiveness of the staff also tells me a lot. Now onto the food, my favorite dish was the fish along with the different side dishes. I liked the soup, but in all honesty to my friends, they could've used regular nuts, and not cocoa beans. For me it oddly had a burnt, bitter quality to them, which is characteristic of roasted cocoa beans. But the soup itself was delicious. The pineapple and ice cream I was told was good. The cheeses were excellent. As for the service, with the exception of the sommelier being a bit presumptuous deciding what we should have with our cheese/dessert before asking, it was EXCELLENT. The maitre'd could not have been more accommodating and helpful. And, since we're practically in the the kitchen we spoke with the sous chefs who were very friendly, and helpful by serving us the main courses. Also, you can have Chef Bruno cook for you personally a tasting menu, which you have to pre-book. The restaurant is noisy, and at times it was difficult to hear. It was a fun experience, and we agreed we'd go back.
With four 3-course prix-fixe, one 2-course prix-fixe, cheese plate, 2-bottles of wine, 4-glasses of white wine, several bottles of water it came to 53€ a person. Note: the wines are expensive.