"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)!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Le Sot l'y Laisse -- Restaurant Review...

Address: 70 rue Alexandre Dumas, 75011
Nearest transport: Alexandre Dumas (2)
Hours: Dinner, Monday-Saturday; lunch, Tuesday-Friday; closed Sunday
Reservations: Book a few days in advance
Telephone: 01 40 09 79 20

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 (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  4 - Stars.............................................€ (pre-fix menu)..............................................2 - Bell

Our friend John of "John Talbott's Paris"  recommended that we try this restaurant in the 11eme.  Our other good friend  Marie Johnston, "The French Market Maven"  joined us as well.  This tiny restaurant with a capacity of maybe 25-seats has gone through several owners in the past couple of years, with Eiji Doihara, a Japanese chef with a classical French resumé holding the current reigns.  It's an extremely simple restaurant, and devoid of almost any decoration, save for the table of bottle wine displayed by the window, and the large billboard where their handwritten menu is hung prominently on one of two large walls. Despite the lack of decor, it's the food we wanted to focus on.

I was expecting French cuisine with a fusion of Japanese flavors, just because. I don't know, maybe wasabe flavored beets or something.  Instead, we got some excellent classical French dishes with incredibly simple and beautiful presentation. The Japanese influences were there, but very subtle.  For one, his Japanese aesthetics were quite evident when it came to his "plating." The balance of colors, textures, and taste was a hit with all of us.  As you will see from some of the photos, they're art onto themselves.

Pre-fix lunch menu

OK, let's start with the menu.  They had a pre-fix lunch: 2-courses for 18€, and 3-courses for 24€. 

We opted not to have the pre-fix lunch and go "a la carte."  Our wait-person, explained to us that ordering from the main menu would take longer.  Hmm, that's a good sign.  In my book anything that takes longer means, maybe they're actually cooking the food, or parts of it versus warming it up and plating.  

After we all made our decisions, two of the items we wanted: Crepinette de pied du porc au vin rouge et foie gras poélé, lentilles vertes (pig's feet), Pigeon ramier d'esossé aux champignons sauvages, sauce au sang (pigeon) were only served for dinner, not for lunch.  We had a discussion how we found it annoying that they don't put a star or asterisks next to the dish to say dinner only, rather then getting our hopes up, but that's the way they do in Paris, oh well. 

Foie gras with balsamic reduction

John and I had the "foie gras poêlé aus figues, réduction de viniagre balsamique" -- Oh my God, not only was it presented beautifully, but was nicely seared on the outside and melt it your mouth tender inside.  He probably was able to accomplish this by slicing the foie gras thin to avoid over and/or undercooking. 

Consommé of oysters and grilled winter vegetables

Jack had the "consommé, aux huîtres chaudes, légumes d'hiver grillés." When I first saw the dish, my first thought was what are those little balls? So, as I tasted it it was like little crackers of some sort.  We asked our wait-person and she said they were "puffed rice." Aha, so here's the Japanese influence, aside from the presentation. The broth was delicious, and the juxtaposition of the different textures came together fabulously. A definite hit. 

Leek terrine

Marie ordered the "terrine de poireaux au vert." Marie loved the dish. It was encased in a gelée to keep it's shape. Again, the presentation was beautiful, we're seeing a trend here. 

Roasted duck breast

For our entrées John and Marie had the "margret de canard rôti aux légumes, croquants de Thiebault, sauce aigre-doux."  John had asked that the duck breast be cooked as the Chef would want it to be eaten, so it was on the rare side. I tasted it, I loved it. It was very juicy. But I am a sucker for anything duck. 

Turbot fish

Jack and I had the "filet de turbot rôti, sauce Noilly Prat, purée de betterave poirée." this to me was the most beautiful dish of all. It had color, texture, and height.  Sounds like I'm talking about interior designing, but I loved the beauty of it.  And, the fish was absolutely mild and perfectly cooked.  The crispy purple potatoes and crispy parsnips brought me back to my childhood when I use to put potato chips in my tuna fish sandwich.  I've come a long way, n'est-ce pas?

Poached persimmons with white wine gelée

And, now for dessert.  The three had the "kaki poché à la gelée de vin blanc, coulis de fruits rouges."  Since I'm trying to cut down on my sugar intake, I had the "assortiment de fromages."  My companions were kind enough to let me taste their desserts.  Oh my God, loved the wine gelée and the poached persimmon was wonderful.  

Comté, chèvre, and brie

The cheese plate had comté, chèvre, and a soft brie.  I forgot to mentioned, we loved the bread that accompanied our meal. And, I especially loved it with the cheese. I swore the bread was from "Poilâne". We asked our wait-person, and she said, no she got it from a bakery in the 11ème.  I did some research and discovered that it was definitely from Poilâne, they have very distinctive breads that cannot be mistaken, but they get it from their neighborhood boulangerie that sell Poilâne bread, voila, my taste-buds have been redeemed!

Summary:  First of all "chapeau" (compliments) to John, excellent choice. If we had ordered from their pre-fix menu our bill would have been much, much less and it really is good deal. However, we went a la carte, so our bill came to almost 66€ for each person which included two bottles of wine, 2-glasses of white wine, and coffee.  it was worth every centime! Definitely go for the food, since decor is lacking.  I would go back in a heartbeat!

Note: The restaurant was filled to capacity, and people were being turned away, so reservations are highly recommended. 


  1. WEll your food shots are excellent RD. Glad to know this place although it's a bit pricier than we usually do. I"m learning a lot from you! :)

  2. Yes..The food shots are really awesome. It is better to make restaurant reservations online to have a great dining experience...:)

  3. I live just across from the street! Can you tell me which local boulangerie sells bread from Poilane? Would be useful to know as I'm in the neighborhood. Thanks!

  4. Great info! Will have to try. Love the pictures too. Thanks so much!

  5. @Paris (im)perfect). Sorry, don't have exact address, but the wait-person said on Voltaire. You may just want to drop in and ask, they're very nice folks...

  6. Randy, I'm licking the screen...simply beautiful presentations and your review makes me want to jump on the next flight. Added to my personal list, merci.