"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, January 10, 2012


Address: 16-18 Place Gaillon, 75002 Paris
Nearest transport: L'Opera
Telephone: 01 42 65 15 16

Website: www.drouant.com

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+)

  2.5 - Stars............................................. (prix fixe menu)............................................1 - Bell

We went for a late lunch at Drouant. Prior to going, I read several reviews, and it’s pretty much all over the map.  With an open mind, I went and joined my regular foodie companions, Just Jack, Marie, Loui, and our new friend Wendy.

The restaurant has a lot of greenery on the outside and looks quite lovely. As you step in, the first thing that came to mind, it’s not very French.  It seemed more American than anything else, with its spacious rooms and very large individual tables.  In fact, it’s a little more upscale than our usual go to places for lunch.  I felt somewhat under-dressed, oh well.  The maitre’d immediately asked to take my jacket and seated me promptly.

Interior of Drouant
My accent must’ve been pretty bad, because they gave me an English/French menu.  They have a prefix menu for 44€. I was taking a photo of the menu, and our waitperson said I could keep it, how nice, but she told the others, jokingly I was the only one who could keep the menu. Flattery will get you everywhere.  No expenses were spared for the written menu. Very glossy and elegant looking. Almost like a fancy wedding invitation.

Glossy 3-part menu in English or French

They also have daily specials. And, being Monday, the special was a venison stew with celery puree.  For the pre-fix lunch menu, you could have the following:  for the entrée you could select a salad with bacon and eggs, or a consommé de canard. For the plat, you could order a canard poêlé, a rôti au jambon, or a veau.  And, for dessert you have a choice of a chocolat et praliné or a galette de rois, after all it is January…

We all opted to go a la carte.   

Langoustine bisque

Marie had the langoustine soup. I tasted it and loved it. It wasn’t as creamy as I anticipated nor as thick as most bisque are; the consistency for me was perfect and it had a nice strong langoustine taste. I could immediately tell that they used the whole langoustine to flavor the broth, because I distinctly tasted the “mustard” or as we say in the U.S. "tomalley."


Beet Salad

Jack had the beet salad, and he loved it, stating it was very, very good.  Wendy and I shared the “4-corners of the world” entrée, which consisted of lacquered shrimp with raita, falafel with sesame, steamed John dory, and a buffalo mozzarella with pesto and grilled pistachios.  It was a really nice combination of different flavors.  Net-net the entrées were good.

We had a bottle of "Chateau Ame de Musset--2007" at 58€, which the whole group loved. 

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Marie had the goose accompanied with a sausage. I tasted the goose and sausage. I liked the sausage, it was moist and tasty; however, someone forgot the  "braising 101" rule. Braising meat too long can turn meats into very dry and sometimes "stringy" meat.  It seems almost contradictory, since one would think that braising or boiling meats for long periods would soften and keep meats moist. On the contrary, braised or boiled meats should also be looked after, and once it's just tender, it should be removed. There comes a time when the meat reaches a "no point of return"; too dry and/or stringy. Unfortunately, the goose in this case was both dry and stringy.

Venison Stew

Loui had the venison stew. At first glance, it did not look appealing to me at all. I had a little taste of it.  I personally did not like this dish.  It was stewed so long that the wine actually became bitter and perhaps the wine used was a strong "oak" flavored wine which intensified its bitterness.  The meat was very dry and stringy as well. 

Melange of meats

Jack had originally ordered the blood sausage with a saddle of hare, but they did not have it.  So, instead he got a mélange of different grilled meats.  Jack felt it was just indescribable and just OK, nothing special and almost dull in taste and presentation.


Wendy got the scallops. She felt the scallops were great!

Pork Belly

I had the crunchy pork belly.  The large piece of pork belly was accompanied with filets of pork, which were actually quite good and delicious.  However, the large piece of pork belly which included the skin and a little bit of the fat was not as crispy as I would’ve liked and the fat was not as creamy as it could’ve been.  It should have been braised longer with maybe a little crisping of the skin under a salamander/broiler, or even fried. 

We all got a side of different vegetable casseroles accompanying our dishes.  A carrot and cabbage dish, braised endive, pureed squash and pureed turnips. And, later they gave us a fifth, which was a buttered creamy spinach which I enjoyed a lot. But I'm a sucker for anything spinach.

Accompanying side dishes
The portions were quite large, so we opted to forego dessert, and had coffee instead. But to our pleasant surprise, they gave us a few chocolate truffles with a confit of sliced orange.

In summary, it’s not a typical Parisian restaurant, and could literally be any place in the world.  And, that includes the food as well.  The service is excellent, from the maitre'd to the wait staff as well as the bus-people.  The entrées were hits; however, most of our plats were questionable. Personally, I was not boiled over by the food, it was just uninspiring, and just OK. , I was really surprised that the "braised" dishes were executed so poorly. As Loui stated, “I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.” However, at those prices I expected more.

The bill for 5 of us came to almost €300 which included 2 glasses of white wine and a bottle of red wine.

Would I go back? probably not. However, if you do go, Marie recommends trying the special order items such as the steak au poivre.

1 comment :

  1. D is for Disappointing...

    If you must go there, follow the advise of those who have been before: Sunday Roast Chicken (special of the day) or the Steak au Poivre, Steak Tartare or fish of the day... apparently, if it's not 'made to order' it's just not so good... and there is nothing worse than mediocrity at such a high price. (my goose dish was 38E!!!)

    The company was great though....