"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, October 15, 2010

Le Grand Pan -- Restaurant review

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+)


 20 Rue Rosenwald
75015 Paris
Tel: 01 42 50 02 50
Chef: Benoît Gauthier
(closed Saturdays and Sundays)

This restaurant is not too far from where we live. It's been reviewed several times since it first opened in 2007. We've actually been there once before about a year ago, and remembered overall there were lots of "hits." So, I wanted to go back for an update. 

We had some friends, Trish and Lauren from California, visiting Paris so we were 4-people. We had reservations for 8 p.m. and as we arrived we noticed there was only one other couple in the restaurant, but that soon changed as more and more people were filing in. It's a small restaurant (40-seat max), very Parisian, they have a row of tables where you have to pull out the tables in order to let people in.  They have a standard menu on a blackboard next to the kitchen, and they also have a small movable blackboard with the evenings recommended special (see photo above).

We first started with apéros, three of us had a kir with white wine, and Jack had the pastis, and they gave us plenty of time to peruse the menu.  Le Grand Pan is known for their côte de boeuf (side of beef), but minimally it's for 2-people. I'm not a big steak eater, so I knew that I was not going to try to convince someone to share this with me.

For the evening's specials you had a choice of 4-entrées, 4-plats, and 3-desserts: Jack ordered from the main blackboard for his entrée and got the mixed saucisson sec (dry sausages). It was a nice variety of sausages. What surprised me most of all was that it was accompanied with pickled chilis that had a "bite" to them, very un-French since most French do not like hot/spicy food, but the Chef is from the Basque region, so they do add a little "spice" to their meals.

I had the Carpaccio de thon (tuna carpaccio), I have to say this was absolutely delicious, very fresh and the tuna melted in your mouth. It was perfect.

Lauren had the Tarine de boeuf et foie gras et son chou rouge pistache, basically a beef with foie gras and pickled cabbage flavored with pistachios.  Lauren loved this dish as well. It was quite tasty.

Trish had the Poelée de cepes des andennes. Literally means a pan of mushrooms. She too loved the dish and it came in with a parmesan wafer. It had a great natural nutty flavor, but also naturally sweet.

All-in-all we unanimously agreed that the entrées were a hit!.

For the plats Trish and Lauren shared the côte de boeuf (side of beef for 2), it was accompanied by big gigantic fries as well as a salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. The two ordered their beef  "a point" pronounced "ah pwa" which is basically medium rare. We made comparisons between the steaks we get in US and the steaks in France. In France, the beef are typically grass fed whereas in the US they're grain fed.  As it was quite large, I had a few slices; I don't normally like to eat beef in France, but I have to say, considering the number of places I've eaten in Paris, this is probably as good as it gets. Trish and Lauren liked it as well, but agreed that our U.S. beef, regardless how they're fed, is much more tender.

I had the Colvert cuit en 2 façons, mallard cooked in 2 ways. Everyone had a taste of my duck, and we all agreed it was damn good. The flesh was "pink" just the way I like it, with a wonderful, wonderful light sauce, almost like au jus. Very simple, but tasty, we gave it an A+.

Jack ordered the Lièvre compoté au four lenguement, hare slow cooked. We all tasted it, and we universally disliked this dish. It looks rich and tasty, but in reality it was bland, stringy, and pieces of hare themselves were quite dry. It looked like a fancy pulled pork, too bad we didn't have any condiments to flavor it. If we could give this a grade it would definitely be a D.

We all like cheese, and since this was Trish and Laura's first visit to France, they've never had the French cheeses. It was a nice selection from an aged bleu to a chevre. There are French cheeses that I prefer over the other, but bottom-line, the cheeses in France are fabulous, so no complaints from me. Jack thought the selection was not particularly exciting, and was disappointed that there was no sheep cheese, his favorite type of cheese.

At this point I was "stuffed to the gills" and so was Lauren,  but Jack and Trish still had the desserts. Trish had a the chocolate mouse with a bit of cream and a slice of a very, very moist cake similar to pound cake. Although it looked very simple, not all that exciting and non-descript, she said it was really, really quite good.

Jack had the pistache macaron atop quetsche, which is a dark plum compote. The quetsche compote was excellent; however, macarons tend to be sweet, so Jack thought it was too sweet. Overall, Jack and Trish thought the desserts were excellent.

So, after a year's return what did Jack and I think? It's a great place to go, they have many more "hits" than misses. After my Jadis disaster this past July with their steak (refer to Jadis review), I've been staying away from "steaks." Le Gran Pan is probably the only place I will order steaks,  because it is actually quite good, or am I just coming around to French steaks? The duck was extremely delicious, I don't know how else to describe it except, "fantastic."  With apéros, a bottle of "medoc" and pretty much having every conceivable course, our bill came to 231€. Normally, it's a reasonably moderate priced restaurant, but we did have apéros and cheeses and a little higher priced wine.

Interestingly, I saw something very, very unusual. A French couple who sat next to us was so enamored with the food they left a 10€ tip. I have NEVER seen the French leave that much of a tip, unless they really, really like the food and service is beyond exceptional. We agree with this couple, the service was great. It took us aback a minute when the wait staff asked if everything is OK, but not to the point of annoying you. Chef Benoît Gauthier even acknowledge us, thanking us for our patronage and a pleasant good-bye as we left.

In a recently blog (Taste this, a food bloggers exploration in Paris), I wrote about the dining experience being  about the WHOLE experience, and from the moment we made reservations up to the moment we left, they gave us a wonderful dining experience.  We highly recommend Le Gran Pan.

1 comment :

  1. Ok, so maybe I can skip dinner as I"ve 'just "dined" in fine style with you all. Miam, miam!