"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)!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Le Clos Morillons -- Restaurant Review

Le Clos Morillons
50 Rue des Morillons
tele: 01-48-28-04-37

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+)


This restaurant is about 2-blocks from our apartment. We walk by it all the time and every time we walk by, we're always saying we need to try this restaurant. So, a few days ago friends Bill and Dan said, "let's get together for dinner," and I thought why don't we try this restaurant, we can all be guinea pigs. Bill and Dan had lived in Paris for several years, and are planning to return and retire here as we have.  So, they are very versed on French cuisine, and because they have either lived or traveled extensively around the world, are very versed on "world" cuisine. Net-net, they are fellow "foodies."

So, on July 15, we went there for dinner. It's really cute inside. The first thing you think of, well anyway, what I think of is Barbara Streisand.  Babs has a fascination with the color violet/purple.  This restaurant's theme color was exactly that, violet. It was very cute, and then I noticed something really exciting, a huge built-in air conditioner.  Since that evening wasn't particularly hot, it was not on, but they had the ceiling fans which kept a nice cool breeze circulating, but then I thought, I know where we're going to eat in a heat-wave.

We started with a bottle of Roche ville, chilled. It was lovely. Dan told us something interesting. He lived in Chile and he said that there they cool red wines in summer and warm them in winter, who knew?

We analyzed the menu and for 28€ you can get an entrée, plat and dessert. Or you can get an entree+plat, or Plat+dessert for 23€. At these prices, we decided we're going all out and having all three.

For the entrée, the three ordered the gazpacho. But the waiter came back and told us they only had enough for two, we thought how odd, since we ate relatively early at 8 pm and they already ran out?  So, Jack and Dan had the gazpacho, and Bill wound up ordering the ravioli. The gazpacho was delicious! It had a scoop of a tomato/basil sorbet, which made it even more refreshing. This dish was definitely a hit.

Bill had the Raviolis de voillailes sur bisque d'homard.  Bill absolutely adored it and said it was made perfectly and was very tasty.

I had the salade de boeuf, a shredded beef salad, almost like pulled pork, with a tart dressing sprinkled with sesame seeds. It was good, nothing extraordinary or exceptional, just good and hearty.

Now for the plats. Dan ordered the Chaud-froid de cabillaud aux fine herbes. It's a cod. The description said hot/cold, so we were trying to figure out which element was the cold and which was the cold, but it was all hot.

Although my picture looks like the cod was burnt, it was actually nicely seared. Dan thought the dish was OK. The fish was fresh and cooked in a pretty standard manner, pan seared. But he noticed some herbs and asked me to taste it. I thought it had some "garam masala"  a sprinkling of an Indian spice, but it wasn't overwhelming, it was just a hint.

Bill and I had the Croustillant d'agneau et son juis de cuisson. It was basically a crispy lamb en croute.  The dough was a Millefeuille, a French version of the phyllo. Bill and I liked it, it was a tad salty, but in France they tend to over salt, especially pork. True to it's words the dish was extremely crispy. The en croute was definitely pan fried to give it that crispy element.

They screwed up Jack's order, they inadvertently gave him the lamb when he asked for Rognon (kidneys), so they eventually brought out the right dish and were apologetic for getting it wrong. The Rognons de veau à l'ancienne, veal kidney, Jack had ordered it rare, and surprisingly it wasn't rubbery. It was just OK. The potatoes were extremely yellow, so I asked if I could taste it, and it had turmeric in it. I was bit baffled since French don't typically use tumeric, but I liked it. The zucchini was very good.

This is a first for me in France, the dishes the plats were served on came out on very, very hot plates.  I do not mean warm. We were warned not to touch them, but I never take these warnings seriously, so I checked for myself and damn if the plates had been empty, I could have cooked a sunny side up egg on it easily.  Surprisingly, it did not alter the food e.g., overcooking.

Now onto the desserts. The 2-guys had the dessert du jour, which was a strawberry tart. It was beautifully presented, but was nothing out of the ordinary or special, it was just OK.

Dan and I ordered the délice au chocolat et sa creme d'amande. Even though at times I can be a chocoholic, this was a bit too much for me. It was pure ganache sitting on a bed of almond cream. It was just so rich. If it wasn't for the cream I don't think I could have eaten it. Believe it or not, because the cream was not sweet, it help neutralize some of the richness.

All-in-all it is a good neighborhood restaurant. I found it interesting that they used turmeric as well as garam masala. Than I remembered that the cafe next door, which we've eaten at, are owned by Indians and in addition to ordering e.g., confit de canard, you could also order curry dishes, hmm. I wonder if they also own this restaurant.

So, would I go out of my way to go back? probably not, since there are so many other good choices in our neighborhood. But I'd be very tempted to go there during a heat-wave and have a gigantic bowl of the gazpacho, yum!, sitting in the air-conditioned room.  The waiters were extremely hospitable, friendly and nice. In fact, I was taken aback when they asked us if we liked our meal 2 or 3 times. Typically, the French could care less if you liked the meal, because they have this arrogant attitude, "the chef knows best" and if you didn't like it, there must something wrong with you.  I'm glad we went!

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