"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 2, 2010

Le Petit Baigneur -- Restaurant Review

10, rue de la Salbière
75014 Paris
Tele: 01 45 45 47 12

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+)

3-stars; €-inexpensive; 2-bells--great value for the money.

This restaurant has been reviewed off-and-on for a number of years.  It's basically a place you either like or don't like, because it's not well known, and it's not the new "in" place to go. It is French home cooking served without any pretense, and something that Maman would make.

It's a family style restaurant tucked away in a residential area of the 14eme. I've been told that for many years, pilots would come here to have a good hearty meal after a long flight. After eating airline food,can you blame them. We went with close friends Xavier who is a native Parisian and his wife Sue, who is from Boston, but now lives in Paris. Just an FYI..., neither Sue nor I are Francophiles, but she moved here to be with her love one, as I did.

It was an extremely warm night, but as you walked into the restaurant, it just felt comfortable, just like an old pair of shoes.  The restaurant had cute antiques throughout, so if you're into antiques, it's worth it just to see what they have.  The proprietor was kind enough to seat us in the back right next to the door, considering how warm it was, it was quite a welcomed relief.

 Randoms shots of some of their antiques

The prices for the pre-fixe menu is incredible. 19.80€ for 3-courses: an entrée, plat, and dessert. When I see prices this low, I'm thinking the quality can't be all that great, nest-ce pas? First we ordered a bottled of chilled Chiroubles 2009, it was good, and quite refreshing for such a warm night.

For our entrée I just wanted a salad, so I got a Roquefort salad, nothing special, but it was good and the portion was large. Jack ordered the saussicon montagne, it was really good, and as in most French country homes, it was served with a slab of butter.

Saucisson Montagne

Xavier and Sue had the salmon and spinach quiche. It was actually very tasty. Xavier felt it could have used more herbs, but I found the salmon taste quite strong, so for me it was just right.

Salmon and spinach quiche

For our plat, I had the tripe stew. It was like no other I've ever had in France. Typically tripe is very rich and very fatty, that's sort of the nature of the beast, excuse the expression,  and that's sort of what you expect. I was pleasantly surprised to get a tripe stew that was akin to a pot-au-feu (pot on fire)--a French version of beef stew.  It was light and not greasy at all.  Granted it could've used more seasoning, but the quality was excellent, and Xavier commented it just like what you would've expected if Maman had made it.

Tripe stew

Jack had the rabbit in herb cream, I had a taste it was quite tender and delicious. And, let's face it with a little mustard cream, who would not like it?

Rabbit in Herb cream sauce

Xavier had the Duck L'Orange, I didn't even knew they still made it France. The dish was delicious, and with a large heaping of mashed potatoes it was quite a large and generous plate. Personally, I didn't care too much for it, since I don't like anything sweet for my main course, with the exception of sweet-and-sour.

Duck L'Orange

Then came our desserts, a chocolate gateau that was like eating ganache, which it probably was, a citron creme (lemon pudding), and a fruit tart.

Chocolate gateau and the Citron creme

Net-net, for the price it was fantastic. The service was spot on. 
  • Was the food anything exceptional? probably not, but it is what it is, a neighborhood restaurant that serves Maman's home cooking akin to finding a country kitchen in the U.S.
  • Would I go back, absolutely, it's in my neighborhood.
  • Would I bring friends, absolutely. 
  • Would I bring culinary experts, probably not!
NOTE: I hear it can get very crowded, so call for reservations.

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