"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)!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Agapes -- restaurant review

47 bis rue Poliveau
75005 Paris
tele: 01-43-31-69-20

Rating Standards: 4-Stars = Extraordinary; 3-Stars = Excellent; 2-Stars = Good; 1-Star = Fair; NO stars = 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 (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)


Friends Bill and Dan live around the corner from Agapes (not to be confused with L'Agapé in the 17eme). It's their neighborhood restaurant.  First we had apéros across the street and then headed out to dinner for our 8 pm reservations. As we were sitting at the outdoor café I noticed the streets weren't that busy, and the café as well wasn't very busy,  methinks a lot of people may have already escaped for the month long hajj.

Went into the restaurant, and the first thing I noticed that it was quite attractive, very elegant. There were some old and new touches. Original stone walls were exposed along the side and the tables all had white linen with beautiful colored lavender glass chargers. And, there were some tables for two strategically placed by the windows to give a more intimate and romantic feel. Some thought was definitely put into this restaurant's design.

The food is also reasonably priced. For a entrée, plat and dessert it was 30€. For the menu gourmand, you can have "5" services including an  apéritif and café for 56€.

For our amuse bouche, we had a curried tuna dip with some bread sticks and warm dark long rolls that tasted like it had a little bit of rye in the mixture. The amuse was not that exciting, but it was just OK.

For our entrées,  I had the Sardines grilées-marinées, citron huile d'olive, galette de lard.  This dish was excellent. Sardines are not a mild fish, so you have to like strong fish flavors. But the crispness combined with the greens and the heirloom tomatoes with the lemon olive oil was a great combination.

Bill had the langostines feuille de riz, fromage frais aux herbs. Bill liked this dish, the juxtaposition of something hot and cold was a great first start. The little egg-rolls he loved with the cheese and herbs and the langostines were cooked perfectly.

Jack and Dan had the tomates biologique (Coeur de boeuf rouge, green zébra, jaune ananas) Pulpe au basilic, poules au xérès. I'm not a big tomato fan, but this dish was delicious. It was akin to a gazpacho but had real texture of various types of tomatoes. Plus the octopus was added as a side rather than incorporated into the soup, hence, you were able to distinguish the different components.  Very well composed dish.

Now here come the plats. I had the Saint Pierre en filet. Epeautre cuisiné en paëlla, jus de boeuf au chorizo. Much to my surprise when the dish came out the dish was an interpretation of paëlla made with quinoa, one of my favorite grains, so lucky me. The fish was cooked perfectly with the skin retaining it's crispness.  And, again much to my surprise I got a nice helping of fresh peas. Very unusual since most French establishments do very little greens, unless you order them as an entrée e.g., asparagus, but to accompany a main dish, not so.  I once asked my French foodie friend and he told me that when the French go out they want the biggest bang for their euro, in other words meats, fishes etc., are more costly whereas greens are not, interesting. Now I liked this dish, and I would have loved it; however, the Chef's hand was a little too heavy with the salt. It was quite salty. In fact, I got up several times later in the night to drink water.

Dan had the Rouget barbet tarte fine, épinard-moelle, sauce vigeronne. A mullet type fish dish sitting a top of greens and a crisp wafer. French are not afraid of fat, and there was a dollop of a little pork fat.  Dan liked the dish. It was a good well prepared dish, plus he too got a nice helping of string beans.

Jack and Bill had the Epaule d'agneau dáuvergne, Farcíe de cèpes et aromates, une poêlée de haricot divers. A lamb dish that Jack and Bill thought was just OK, but Jack found it extremely fatty. Seeing the fat on Dan's plate, I have to assume that the Chef loves adding a little fat to his dishes.  Fat doesn't scare me, in fact, to me it's quite tasty, and when you get down to it, isn't most of the flavor in the fat?

For desserts, Dan loves chocolate so he ordered the Le chocolat en ganache, marmelade d'argumes, craquelin praliné. Dan said it was very good. It was chocolate ganache with praline crackers and a sauce of citrus. Dan thought the dish was very good.

Bill had the Les fraises gaufre minute, chantilly vanillée, sirop blasmique. I jokingly said to him, it looks like breakfast at I-hop. Waffles in France are typically a snack or a dessert and very rarely eaten for breakfast as in the US.  Bill said it was good.

Jack had the Le citron, caramélisé, pâte sablée, minstrone de fruits route, sorbet basilic. Basically a basil sorbet atop fruit and a lemon custard.  Jack said it was good.

Since I'm trying to cut back on my sugar intake, I had a cheese platter. I grabbed what I thought was a soft cheese and stuck it in my mouth and it turned out to be butter. Like I said, the French are not afraid of fat, buttered bread and cheeses, how bad can that be? Speaking of bread, I thought the breads were excellent. We had various types of breads, some seeded some with nuts, it was a nice change from the proverbial baguettes.  We asked the waiter where the bread was from and he said from the St. Jean Mouffetard, must remind myself to get some of them.

When all was said and done, Chef Frédéric Naulleau came out and asked us how we liked our food. To me, it's very rare that #1 anyone in the restaurant cares what I think of the food, and #2 the Chef came out himself and asked, so I was pleasantly surprised. Very friendly man and seems to care how his customers are fed and treated.

Than another surprise...

When we asked for the bill a nice little dish of cookies, pineapples sitting atop a fruit gelée was given to us. Very nice indeed.

Net-net, the entrées were excellent, the plats still have room to improve, but overall they were good, and the desserts were above average.  It's a great neighborhood restaurant. The decor is very nice, service is great, the ambiance is wonderful, and it can also be a place for a romantic dinner, albeit the lighting could be a little dimmed. Would I go back, yes--I'd like to try the other plats.

1 comment :

  1. We returned with Bill and Dan early July 2011. The food has much improved. The Chef saw my review from last year, and he thought it was a fair assessment. Most French Chefs could care less, with an attitude, "what do the customers know", this Chef is definitely different. My philosophy has always been, "feedback is good". The food the last time around was EXCELLENT!!!