About

"The evolving 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, November 7, 2018

Boutary -- Restaurant Review



25 RUE MAZARINE 75006
Metro: Odeon (Line 4 & 10)
Tel: + 33 1 43 43 49 10
For reservations and operating times, check website
http://www.boutary-restaurant.com/

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+)

4.25 - Star....................................................€€€€........................................................ 2 - Bell




We were looking for a special restaurant to celebrate our anniversary, and I came across one in the 6eme. You can't miss it, it's the reddest building on the block, and the interior had more red. Methinks someone likes red.


They had tables out front closer to the window and it wasn't going to be a busy night so the maitre'd basically told us we could select any seat we liked. We opted to be in the back where it was a little more quiet and cozy. Maybe for lunch we would've sat closer to the window to people watch.




We saw the menu before arriving, and based on all the reviews everyone pretty much suggested we do the tasting menu, so we did. In addition to the tasting menu, we also did the 2-caviars, the "à la royale" for Jack and "Beluga" for me. And, since we were having trouble deciding what wines we should have with our meal, we also selected the wine pairing.





Now, if you wanna be schooled in caviar, this is the place to come. Our wait-staff were extremely knowledgeable about the the different caviars, the aging process etc. I could write a separate book about what I learned, but bottom line what I found most interesting is that caviar is usually stored in tins, rather than glass.  In the US you'll oftentimes see them stored in glass, which is a definite no-no, because caviar is susceptible to light and it can adversely impact the flavor. Secondly, caviar in the US is typically pasteurized, not surprised since we pasteurize everything. Therefore, pasteurized caviar actually makes the caviar taste saltier than it should. And, this is probably one reason Jack has never been fond of caviar.

If you're more interested in learning about caviar, I would suggest you read "The World of CAVIAR" by Frédéric Ramade.


Amuse bouche. We had a little crab dip with some crunchy breadsticks. Jack remarked it's just a tad salty. Later we made the assumption that the amuse bouche was purposely a little salty so you could taste the nuances of the caviar, which was coming up next.














Caviar. I had the Beluga which is picture in the front with a little light gray/blue and aged for about 4-months, whereas Jack had the Siberian caviar, darker and aged for about 6 months.

Our wait person explained that in olden days the caviar was placed on your hand to taste so you could taste the pureness and know that it wasn't contaminated. Jack used this method of eating, or you can use a spoon, which I chose. Note, never use metallic spoons to eat caviar. Spoons should always be something neutral like in our case it was made from an animal horn.

As for the tasting, as I mentioned Jack has never liked caviar. This restaurant made him a new believer. The Beluga to me was milder and almost buttery, melted in your mouth with just the right amount of sweetness and saltiness. The Siberian had just a tad more body and didn't melt as quickly, but was also delicious. I actually preferred the Beluga, which is more expensive, so it figures, whereas Jack preferred the Siberian. So new lesson learned, I don't think I'll ever eat caviar again on a bilini with eggs and onions. I preferred this unadulterated way. You really taste the complex flavors.


ENTRÉES

Foie gras. Now this was an interesting dish. It seems "pea-ing", meaning cutting thin string beans into little pea shapes, seems to be the big rage right now in Paris. This is the 2nd restaurant in 2-weeks where we were served this. At the bottom was a sauce of watercrest. Atop that sat some "pea'd" string beans and around that were croutons for texture and of course nice chunks of foie gras. What I thought was unusual, but thoroughly enjoyable was the anchovy mayonnaise on the side. I liked the composition of the this dish a lot. I was so tired of eating foie gras with toast. Finally a fun and innovative way to eat foie gras almost as a salad with 2-types of dressing. Jack just thought it was OK, but I really enjoyed it.




Potato caviar. Can you have too much caviar? I think not. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture the smoke when our wait-person opened the what look like a gigantic ostrich egg bowl. The chef added smoke to also tickle your sense of smell. It was quite nice. Don't know what the food chip scent was, but it actually made the dish come alive.

Basically, the dish had the caviars we chose earlier sitting atop herbed potato that wasn't completely pureed, because there were still chunks, which I prefer. On the side was a lemon savory curd. Since I like the pureness of the caviar, I ate it alone, without melanging it with the lemon or potato.  Then I moved out to the potato and lemon curd. Delicious separately. I did give it a little try adding the 3-components, they went together, but I preferred them separately.









PLATS


Pollock with octopus.  At this juncture I was getting a little full so had to pace myself for the upcoming courses. Alaskan cod was poached, probably "sous vide" and sat atop a sauce of red bell peppers. Next to it was a charred octopus, and atop of the fish was a large crusted carrot. Also a little bit more of that lemon savory curd. This was my least favorite course, whereas Jack really liked this dish. It wasn't bad, just not my favorite. I found the fish a little fishy and the octopus a little tough and charred. But conceptually it's a good dish.








Duck with cuttlefish. At first it sounded a little strange. But then again we have "surf and turf" in the US. I love anything duck, so I'm a little partial to this dish. We got 2-pieces of duck. A small piece of the thigh and a larger piece of the breast. These ducks are raised in south of France and can reach 8-kilos, hence very meaty. The 2-ducks were perfectly cooked. Very succulent and delicious. I thought the cuttlefish might be a bit strange, but surprisingly it was a great accompaniment. It was perfectly seasoned so that it wasn't overwhelming any other competing flavors and they were extremely tender, not rubbery at all. With it came a side of butternut squash, one pureed and the other in chunks. Excellent dish.



DESSERTS

At this point I was beyond stuffed. I don't normally eat sugar, but since this was a special occasion I decided to partake.

Chocolate. for you chocolate lovers out there, this is it. It was a little chocolate pie crust filled with a chocolate cream with chocolate ganache and a dollop of coconut ice cream. Can we say decadently delicious. No other way to describe it.

Poached pear. This poach pear was flavored with ginger. The pears were perfectly poached and covered with a light meringue flavored also with ginger. Jack loved this dessert. Then bordering the meringue were slices of beautifully poached pears as well. I favored the chocolate over the poach pear, where it was opposite for Jack.



WINES


As I mentioned we had the wine pairing. Lucky me, cause 2 of the 3 were white.

Vin d’Alsace Domaine Agape Riesling 2016.  I normally think rieslings are very sweet, but our sommelier insisted that it's not and would go well with our foie gras. He was right. For me it was a light wine with a smooth texture and then a pop of citrus finish. Delicious.

Domaine Lafage Centenaire. This was my favorite of the 3-wines. This was paired with the fish. It's known for its aromas of vanilla and ripe fruit of pear and white peach, with a spicy finish.

Chateau Pierraille Bordeaux supérieur 2015. This was the only red of the bunch. It was paired with our duck. Red Bordeaux Blends are known for their powerful structure and deep flavors. The tasting notes are those of dark fruits and berries such as plum and blackcurrant, a very full structured wine.


SUMMARY

If you like caviar and want to learn more about caviar, then this is the place for you. At the helm is Jay Wook Hur, Japanese-Korean chef, where a lot of his Asian influences can also be seen in his dishes. Aesthetically simple and beautiful to the eye. The service was beyond reproach. Each server took the time to explain the various nuances of different caviars and also the wines. You would think you'd get tired of repeating the same spiel over and over, but they were very enthusiastic about the caviar, which you could tell.

As for the food, I thought it was interesting that they had something for Jack and something for me. We didn't always agree, but we did agree this was a very good meal. My favorite caviar was the Beluga. My favorite entrée was the foie gras. As for the plat, my favorite was the duck. And, lastly for dessert it was the chocolate.

My least favorite was the fish, it tasted "fishy" to me. What I didn't particularly care for were the utensils. They were very long and narrow and hard to eat with. As for the coffee, I had to ding them on this, it came out barely lukewarm.  Would we go back? absolutely. It's not an inexpensive restaurant so we'd have to save our pennies first.

For 2-aperitifs, 2-degustation menus, 2-caviars (supplementary), 2-wine pairings (supplementary), 1-coffee and 1-tea, our bill came to 291€ ($332.46) for 2-people.




Monday, November 5, 2018

Le Comptoir des Petits Champs -- Restaurant Review


17, rue des Petits-Champs 75001
tel: 01.42.96.47.54
Metro: Palais Royale Musée de Louvre (line 1 & 7)
Check their website for operating hours & to make reservations
https://www.lecomptoirdespetitschamps.fr/

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+)

3.50 - Star....................................................€€........................................................ 2/3 - Bell

Note: downstairs dining can be very noisy


A friend is visiting from the US and the only time she had available was Sunday. So I searched for restaurants open for lunch on Sundays in the 1er arrondissement. No easy feat I must add. The regular restaurants I go to and am familiar with in that area were closed. This was one of the few restaurants that I had heard about that was open.

It's not only difficult to find a good restaurant in Paris on Sundays and Mondays, but trying to find this restaurant was really difficult, since there is no real signage and the old TV set in the window makes one think this is an appliance repair shop?



The restaurant is quite a long narrow restaurant. On the main floor there was a long bar and a back room with some tables for dining. It was crowded and a lot noisier and more compact. Fortunately, we were seated upstairs, and it was roomier and a little less noisy, very comfortable.



The lunch menu had a simple nice variety. They had it in both English and French. I always like seeing the menus in French because oftentimes the translations don't match. For example "breath of duck" instead of "breast of duck".  Prices seemed very reasonable.


ENTRÉE


Mussels: These mussels were baby mussels. The quality of mussels were good and they were cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, it lacked any real flavor. It was truly under-seasoned. I added more salt and pepper whereas a friend asked for some lemon to spritz over the mussels. As I said, they were cooked perfectly, but very under-seasoned.












Squash. Two people ordered this dish and loved it. The individual flavors of Squash, pear, gorgonzola, walnut, garlic, burrata, grape, fig and almonds, you would think, well this is a little busy with all these flavors. I always believe less is more, but for some reason this dish came together harmoniously. Each component complimented the other. The gorgonzola which I thought would be overwhelming actually provided the salt for this dish. A very good dish.








PLATS

HARE. I normally don't like eating hare. It's not the flavor so much, but they tend to be a very, very bony animal. But this particular dish was boneless and made with shredded/ pulled hare meat.  The flavors were delicious. It was stewed in tomato sauce with a sprinkling of white beans. The streaky bacon added a lot of nice flavor. Aside from the meat being shredded and not as much beans, this reminded me a lot of a cassoulet. Not a pretty dish, but a good, hearty, delicious meal.






Candied Fennel. This was one of the two vegetarian dishes on the menu. The other being the smoked ricotta. Jack liked this dish. He always prefers vegetarian over meat or poultry. I had a little bite of it, and it was a bit too sweet for me. But as the name implied, it is "candied". The fennel actually had more of a leek flavor (subdued) but the rest of the dish was very flavorful; the kumquats really made the dish pop!







DESSERT 

We shared an order of aged camembert and chevre.


SUMMARY

I was nicely surprised to find a pretty good restaurant for lunch on a Sunday. I thought the mussels lacked flavor, but the other dishes were spot on. The hare was a simple rustic dish that I could imagine grandmere cooking. It was packed with a ton of flavor. I can definitely see this as being a great winter staple. Although the butter squash seemed like a busy concoction with all these competing flavor elements, it actually worked. Service was quite delightful (our charming Indian waiter also spoke English quite well).  Would I go back? ABSOLUTELY.

For an aperitif of kir, 1-beer, 1 bottle of sparkling water, 4-entrées, 3-plats, 1-cheese plate, 1-50 cl of white wine, & 1-glass of white, our bill came to 156.70€ or 39.17€ per person.



Friday, November 2, 2018

Korus -- Restaurant Review


73 RUE AMELOT PARIS, 75011
Tel: (+33)155285331
Metro: line 8 (Chemin Vert)
Check website for operating hours
http://restaurantkorus.com/


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....................................................€€........................................................ 2/3 - Bell



At the recommendation of our good friend "J", we went to Korus for lunch. It's in the 11eme, it's an interesting street that parallels "Boulevard Beaumarchais".



The interior is quite lovely, a mix of new and old. Except for one other table, it was quite empty when we arrived at 12:30 pm. There's maybe around 40-seats and a bar area for cocktails. Then I remembered it was "Toussaint" (All Saints Day) a public holiday in France. Surprisingly, it really picked up by 2 pm, and it was near full.



The menu was quite simple. In fact, it's a prix-fixe menu with 2-choices each for the entrée, plat and desserts and, at 20€ for the prixe-fixe, what a deal!


ENTRÉE


Mousse de foie de volaille (Fowl liver mousse).  A very simple entrée. The toast was nicely buttered and the mousse was very light and smooth and accompanied with a few pickled onions. Nothing out of the ordinary, but simple and delicious.














Endives, clementines, pistaches (Endives, clementines, pistachios). This was an interesting salad combination. It had the bitterness of the endive, the sweetness of the clementines (tangerines) and a smooth type of cheese, similar to cottage cheese, which personally it did not need. The salad was nicely composed, delicious and nicely balanced.









PLATS


Cabillaud, moules, haricots verts, quinoa (Cod, mussels, green beans, quinoa). This was an excellent dish. Beautifully composed with the right flavor profiles. This was probably the best piece of fish that I've had all year. It was so moist and tender. My guess is that it was cooked "sous vide". The haricot vert were sliced into pea sized pieces that was also cooked perfectly. Nice and al-dente. The added texture of the crunchy quinoa brought it to another level. At first I thought the mussels would make it all about the mussels, but not at all, you knew the fish was the star of the dish. I absolutely loved this dish.




Cuisse de canard braisée, riz, shitake (Braised duck leg, rice, shitake). It wasn't the prettiest plat, lots of brown. I wish they had a little green on the plat, but it's a visual thing for me. My friend J had this dish, and he disliked it, because it was quite sweet. I personally don't like my savory dish to have sugar, unless it's glazed. But I agree with J, the sauce was a bit sweet, albeit the duck was perfectly cooked. The rice accompanied was a short grain rice cooked with shitake. Good, but nothing out of the ordinary.






DESSERTS

I asked the waiter if he could change out my dessert for cheese, since I don't like desserts and don't eat sugar. He was able to do so even though the menu was fixed. So, kudos to the restaurant for accommodating me. And, as I always say, you can't go wrong with the cheeses in France.











Coffee with Mignardises (partings sweets). Simple with a madeleine and mini-macarons. Perfect for J since they were tasting bites and he's not a big eater.














Figues au vin d’épices, cake à l’huile d’olive (Figs with spice wine, cake with olive oil). Jack ordered this dish and really enjoyed it. It was an olive oil pound cake soaked in some spiced wine. Sweet figs and some heavy cream to counterbalance the sweet. Nicely presented and overall a very delicious well composed dessert. 












WINES: 


WHITE. "Vin D’alsace Charles et philippe brand Retenez sono le lire 2017".  We had this first as sort of aperitif. I enjoyed this wine, it was dry enough, but not to the point that you had to pucker or had a strong sour after taste. I'm not a wine expert by any means, but to me, this wine can be drunk alone, whereas normally I like wine paired with food. 

RED. "Mon p’tit python millésime 2017" It's known for its fruity, crunchy and structure which is usually paired with charcuterie or raclette. One of the few red wines that I liked because for me it was light and balanced enough that you could have with meat or seafood. 









SUMMARY: 

I really enjoyed this restaurant a lot. The chef, Hanzhou Piao has quite the pedigree.  He worked at the Conrad -Tokyo, Restaurant André -Singapore, Mirazur -Menton, and David Toutain -Paris. The entrées were simple, but our favorite was the endive salad. The plats scored differently, only because the sweetness of the duck was just overwhelming. Had it been lacquered (glazed), the sweetness would not have carried all the way to flesh, so if you don't like sweet, then you can simply remove the skin. As for the cod, the best cod I've had all year. So moist and the accompanying flavors enhanced the fish, because bottom line cod can be bland, but the accompaniment really brought the flavors out and made it a star. Our favorite dessert was the figs. The service is excellent, the atmosphere was really nice, but got noisy as it filled. And, the price of 20€ for 3-courses, is a steal. Would I go back, ABSOLUTELY! 

I would've scored higher, if the duck hadn't been so overly sweet.

For 3-fixed lunches (included dessert) and 2-bottles of wine, our bill came to 130€ or 43.33€


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cléo -- Restaurant Review


 19, BOULEVARD DE LA TOUR-MAUBOURG, 75007 PARIS
tel:  01 40 60 44 32
Metro: line 12 (Assemble Nationale), Line 8 (La Tour-Maubourg)
Check website for operating hours and menu
https://www.restaurantcleo.fr/

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+)

1.80 - Star....................................................€€........................................................ 2 - Bell


I was looking for a restaurant that was quiet and allow us to have a nice conversation since we wanted to catch up with our friends from the US, who sadly were leaving the next day. This restaurant is actually part of a hotel, which is ranked as a 5-star hotel. It appears I haven't had much luck with hotel restaurants, but I'll explain that later.


As we entered, the maitre'd asked Jack if he had a jacket underneath his overcoat. Jack was wearing  a "collared" shirt with a sweater. I didn't recall any dress codes. And, it got weirder as we wandered in. Our friends hadn't arrived yet so we entered the lounge area standing between the small lounge and restaurant, no one came to us to ask, "do we need help" etc. So, we left and told the maitre'd we'll wait outside, he did suggest we could wait at the couch available by the entrance, but we insisted on meeting our friends outside.

Once they arrived, we all entered the restaurant. I had to get the attention of one of the wait staff, finally I did, and we were the only ones seated in the dining area. Later, others entered, and NO-ONE was wearing a sports coat, including myself, except for our friend Lee. I thought it was odd that he would inspect to see what Jack had under his overcoat.

When I made the reservations online, I accidentally put the wrong date and made it for Sunday rather than today (Saturday), so I own this mistake. I thought for sure they were going to kick us out at this rate. It also required that I check off which menu we wanted online, so I checked off the tasting menu for 48€ for 3-courses. But when we actually got to the restaurant the tasting menu was only for the week-day. So, all-in-all a strange start.

Eventually after we were seated, our wait person asked if we were ready to order, we said no, then decided to order aperitifs. Even by French standards, it was slower than a snail's pace by the time we got our aperitifs.


NOTE: I'm only reviewing the dishes that I had and the dessert Jack had.


Waldorf Salad: Celeriac remoulade, apple, shropshire cheese, hazelnuts. This was a deconstructed salad. It had no resemblance nor any taste of a waldorf salad. First of all the endive were not dressed. They were basically plucked leafs from the bundle and strategically placed on the plate. Underneath sat the celeriac remoulade, and if there were apples, I didn't taste any. And, the the only flavor that came out was the cheese, a british cow's blue cheese that I liked. Very poorly constructed, lacking in any real flavors with the blue cheese the only flavor profile that came out.


Two others had the encornets (squid) appetizer and said it was very good.


Braised beef spare ribs, white kimchi, mash potatoes with nori. Where do I start? The beef was not even tender. It was a bit tough. It either needed to be braised longer or pressure cooked. Not much flavor. It sat on a bed of wet pureed potatoes, and that certainly wasn't kimchi, it was basically bland bok choy. Very sad looking and sad tasting food. Lacked any character or real presence.









Tarte du Yuzu. This was like a lemon curd with a crumbled crust and some very sweet meringue dollops almost like a marshmallow.  Yuzu is a Japanese citrus. Perhaps the yuzu enhanced the lemon (or perhaps some lemon enhanced the yuzu).  As Jack loves anything lemon, or even citrusy, he was happy.  But nothing out of the ordinary.







WINE Bernard Baudry Chinon. A wine made with cabernet franc which can either be light or medium bodied and often shows vegetal characteristics, in particular green bell peppers. This wine is sometimes incorrectly identified as an unripe Cabernet Sauvignon. I'm not big on red wines, but this was very light and quite nice.















SUMMARY: 

This is quite a small intimate restaurant with seating for maybe about 20-seats. As I said earlier, I haven't had much luck with hotel restaurants, and this was no exception. The start was very strange. We have never had a maitre'd want to inspect what we had under our overcoat. And, when we entered there were some people who were very casually dressed? Although the wait staff couldn't be nicer, the service was erratic and painfully slow to start, even by French standards. But physically, the place is adorable and quaint.

Now onto the food.The food was like an afterthought. In fact, I'm starting to believe it's just there in case hotel guests get hungry and don't want to leave the hotel.  One word that describes the food, "FADE" in french, and "BLAND" in English. The waldorf salad was bizarre. All I tasted was the cheese and the bitterness of the endives. The beef for the main course was tough, and sat atop very wet mashed potatoes. Would I go back, or would I recommend it, ABSOLUTELY NOT. In fact, I was very embarrassed that I even suggested this restaurant to our friends.

With 4-aperitifs, 3-entrées, 4-plats, 1-dessert, 2-coffees, 1-bottle of red wine, and 2-glasses of white wine our bill came to little over 300€, so that's about 75€ a person.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Marlon -- Restaurant Review



159 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris
Metro: Line 8 (Ecole Militaire) 
Check website for operating hours and contact 
http://www.restaurantmarlon.fr/


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 - Star....................................................€€........................................................ 2 - Bell

My good friend from LA suggested we go to this restaurant for lunch. Interestingly it's a restaurant specializing in "Californian" cuisine. It's located in the 7eme, close to the Rue Cler which is a well known area for tourist as a result of Rick Steves review of that area. So, many in the area speak English and oftentimes we call it "Little America".  So, it's appropriate to see this type of restaurant in this area. Plus the 6 of us who went are all from California.

As you can see from the menu, it's very eclectic Californian cuisine. While we were perusing the menu, we had 2-orders of guacamole. It was actually pretty good. It could've been a little spicier for me, but the rest thought it was just fine.

Notice, this is a typical restaurant you would see in any California city. So, it was actually quite comforting to see a taste of home.



















The interior of the restaurant was quite nice and simple. Again, it looked like a restaurant that you would easily see in LA, with a bar as you enter the restaurant.




Our lunches were very simple.


Jeffe salad. I had this salad and this definitely reminded me of California. The chef used real (American style) bacon, what a treat. It reminded me of a cobb salad, except rather than corn, they used dried corn kernels. I had moist chicken, eggs and iceberg lettuce with a creamy blue cheese dressing. I thought it could've been elevated had they used chunks of blue cheese, but other than that, it was delicious.








Cuban Club Sandwich.  It was a good looking sandwich and came with french fries.  By making it a 'club' sandwich it lost some of its 'Cubanishness' but it was none the less tasty with chunks of pork and chicken.  Some Cuban sandwiches might be very moist but this was not.  I don't recall if there were any pickles (cornichones).  Tasty.












Other dishes. I forgot to take photos of the other dishes we had, but basically one friend had the shrimp tempura tacos, and he thought it was delicious, and very Californian. Some others had the quinoa salad that they thought was good as well.



Desserts. The table shared churros with warm chocolate and a sundae. Now I haven't seen any sundaes sold in Paris, so we all thought it was nice to see it on the menu. Both dishes were good, with the churros having an edge over the sundae.  There also was a Chocolate Mug Cake (lava cake) with mostly 'lava' and little cake, which is heaven, and which was so large it required a doggy bag.  Just Jack had the fruit bowl.









Louis Jadot - Bourgogne Couvent des Jacobins 2013. Sometimes known as the “ambassador” of pinot. It’s very light, with nice long-lasting red fruit aromas with some spicy touch.



















SUMMARY

If you're from California and missing our style of cuisine, then this is the place for you. The chef lived in southern California, in fact mostly in San Diego. So, he brought what he learned there to Paris. It's a great for lunch, and the food is very good, but nothing out of the ordinary from a typical restaurant of this caliber in California. Would I go back, ABSOLUTELY, especially if I'm missing California type of cuisine.  And, as usual for French restaurants, and unusual for Mexican inspired ones, the food was not very spicy (chili). 

For 2-guacamoles, 2-bottle waters, 1-glass of chablis, 1-bottle of red wine, 2-cokes, 1-jarritos lime drink, 6-plats, 3-desserts, and 2-coffees our bill came to 235€ or 39.16€ per person.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Saturne -- Restaurant Review


17 rue Notre-Dame des Victoires - 75002 Paris
 +33 (0) 1.42.60.31.90 
Metro: line 8 -- Grand Boulevards
Check website for operating hours
http://www.saturne-paris.fr/index_en.html


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+)

4.75 - Star....................................................€€€........................................................ 3 - Bell

I went to this restaurant when it first opened up in 2010. After it got really popular and won a Michelin star in 2016, it was difficult to get a reservations. But turns out it's easier to get one for lunch and it's much more affordable too, so a win-win situation. The "FAB 3" as we like to call ourselves (myself, Steve & Keri) celebrated our birthdays at this restaurant. I was curious to see if it was still as good as I remembered it almost 8-years later.




The interior is very simple, nothing pretentious about it. They had quite an extensive wine list and the wines are proudly displayed along the wall and bar. We had a late reservation (1:30 pm) but there was still quite a large number of people there. It was an unusually warm October day, so it was a bit warm in the restaurant, even though they have a/c. As a general rule the French don't like a/c and to them it did not warrant having the a/c on,  but for us it was quite war. Fortunately, we adjusted as people started leaving.




They have a great prixe-fixe lunch for 50€. Very reasonable for a Michelin starred restaurant. With the exception of dessert, we all had the same entrée and plat (main).



ENTRÉE:  Ravioles de homard & oignon doux, safran, huile de feuille de figuier (Lobster & sweet onion ravioli, saffron, fig leaf oil).  When it was presented it looked ordinary enough, however, when we tasted it, we were transported to a wonderful world of flavors. The lobster was sweet and tender, and the pasta encasing the lobster was al-dente. But the real winner here was the sauce. For lack of a better description, it was orgasmic. The sweetness from the onions and fig oil came through, and the saffron brought it to another level. We all agreed this dish was PHENOMENAL!






PLATS. Poularde de la Sarthe, haricots coco & moules (Sarthe chicken, green beans with coco & mussels).  This was a simple roast chicken dish was brought to a whole new level. The beauty of this dish was the skin. It almost tasted like chicken skin chicharon. It was so crispy, yet the breast meat was succulently moist. Sometimes, simplicity is the best. Not over complicated by competing flavors.  The green beans I have to assume were boiled in coco water, they were nice, but I prefer them a little more al-dente. But overall I thought the dish was delicious.


DESSERTS. As most of you know, I don't normally eat sugar, but I broke my rule today since it was our birthday celebration.

1. Framboise et lait d'amande (Raspberry and almond milk). It was a very simple dessert. I didn't really taste the almond, but what I did taste was the raspberries, crisp and tart flavor along what was like baked crumbled meringue. I have to assume the almond flavoring was in that. It was a good dessert, but nothing out of the ordinary.

2. Chocolat, origan, foin, noisettes.(Chocolate, oregano, hay, hazelnuts). Yes, you read that right, hay in the flavor profile. It's an old traditional french cooking method to incorporate a smokey hay flavor to food. It was not a pretty dish, but it did pack a lot of combination flavors. The oregano was not a strong flavor and we had to go back to taste it, but after a few bites it came through. The chocolate was good and the crumble of hazelnut added some much needed texture. Overall, I wasn't that fond of this dessert.

NOTE: We did have some wine, but unfortunately I forgot the name of the label and I forgot to take a photo. It was a white wine (savignon blanc) that went well with our meals.


SUMMARY

Yes, it's still as good as I remember it. I favored the savory dishes over the desserts. But then again I'm not fond of sweets. The entrée of lobster ravioli was a big hit for us. The flavors all melded into a wonderful dish that really brought out the sweetness of the lobster, and the sauce enhanced the pasta ravioli. We could find no fault in this dish, just excellence. The main of chicken was so simple, but so perfectly executed. Extraordinary crispy skin with moist breast meat. The desserts were OK, in hindsight I should've asked for cheese. The service was great, as for the interior, it can get a bit noisy and hard to hear, and it was a bit warm for us. Would I go back or recommend it, ABSOLUTELY!

For 3-coupes de champagne, 1-bottle water, 3-prix-fixe menus, 2-bottles of wine and a double espresso, our bill came to 280€ or 93.33€ a person.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Lutecia Hotel (Le St. Germain) -- Restaurant Review



45 Blvd Raspail
Metro line 12 (Sèvres – Babylone)
Check website for hours and to make reservations
https://www.hotellutetia.com/saint-germain-restaurant


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 - Star....................................................€€€€........................................................ 3 - Bell



This restaurant has been closed for a few years for a huge renovation project. I had a really bad experience when it first opened up. I won't get into details, but it was basically just being ignored and treated badly for not being hotel guests. I was angry, but said I'd come back when they settled in and give them another chance. And, voila at the recommendation of a friend a few of us went there for dinner. Now keep in mind, only one restaurant is open for dinner, the other restaurants are not yet open.


The interior of the hotel is absolutely magnificent. Especially their larger room the "St. Germain". The ceilings were very, very tall with a stained glass ceiling above us. The only complaint I had was the acoustics. Because of the large surface area, it didn't buffer the noise so it got difficult to hear.

There is a bar right across from "St. Germain" and it was quite active. They asked us if we wanted a cocktail at the bar, I said no since we were still waiting for our friends, so we waited in the hallway lobby.

The menu was quite eclectic from salads, hamburgers, various seafood and meats. Please refer to their website for the menu.

We started with cocktails, and one person had a glass of veuve cliquot. The cocktails were all good; however, I don't think they really knew what a "dirty martini" was, so I had to explain what it was. When it came it was good, however, lacked the "dirty" (olive brine). But the waiter brought me some more so I could just add it to my taste preference.

I'll just review the dishes that I tasted.



Salade César. I had it with chicken. It was not what I expected, it was served sort of "bundled" up, very compact. It was pretty, but different. This is one of the better caesar salads I've had. The chicken was incredibly moist. and touches of anchovies that gave it the traditional taste. The lettuce was served halved so it wasn't lose lettuce, which made it interesting. And, the shavings of parmesan was perfect. But was it worth the price at 32€, more on that later in the summary.






Scallops. My friend had the scallops and insisted that I taste it. Personally I don't like foams, cause they always remind me of babies spitting. I'm glad she did insist I try it. I tasted it and it was perfectly cooked. Nicely seared on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. It was cooked in a mild curry with of citrus from the combawa lime.









Chicken. This chicken was poached to perfection. It was extremely moist. The hint of cocoa and the roasted buckwheat added an extra layer of flavors. Interestingly, we couldn't figure out what we thought was a tubular shaped radish. I thought it tasted like a carrot, but it was deceiving since it had the cocoa flavor. Turns out it was carrot. BTW, the cocoa added much to the flavor profile. I liked this dish a lot.









Cheeses. We had a nice selection of cheeses from chevre to blue. As I always say, you can't go wrong with cheeses in France.






















SUMMARY

The hotel is beautiful. The dining room of St. Germain was beautifully appointed. But, as a general rule, I don't like eating in hotels, especially when I'm in a foreign country. It's a personal thing for me, but I use this example, if you're sitting in a beautiful hotel restaurant, could it be anywhere in the world?  In fact, I've seen many hotel fine dining restaurants in Las Vegas that were just breathtaking. I'm not making judgement, I'm just saying I prefer more traditional restaurants.

Bottomline, I'm glad I went back to give it a second chance. The food was great in its simplicity with bold seasonings, but light touch to give the flavors a hint of this and that, rather than a heavy hand. The portions are little more than entrée portions. In fact, Jack left hungry. The service is still a little wishy-washy, and the price point for what we had is outrageous, this included the cocktails (refer to website), but it is a world renowned hotel . So you're paying for name recognition and status. Would I go back, probably not, but I would recommend it to people who like this type of dining.

So, for five-people, 5-cocktails, 8-glasses of wine, 6-menu items, 1-cheese plate, 1-grappa, 1-cappucino our bill came to 98.50€, we rounded it up 100€ a person. They do have a lunch special for 41€ for 4-courses.

NOTE:  As an aside, when I asked for a glass of white wine, the waiter recommended a wine from their wine list. I believe it was 75€ a glass. I told him absolutely not, I'm a cheap drunk and ordered from the regular dinner menu which had much more affordable wines at 12€ a glass for e.g., a pinot gris. So lesson to my readers, always look at prices for wine recommendations, unless you don't care how much money you're spending.