"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)!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chameleon -- Restaurant Review

70, rue René Boulanger 75010 Paris 
Tél. : 01 42 08 99 41
Metro: Line 4 or 8 (Strasbourg St. Denis)
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 - Star..............................................................€€............................................................2 - Bell

This restaurant is located in the 10eme arrondissement, a lively working class neighborhood that is very active with young people.   We truly were able to find a gem in this part of town. Once you step into Chameleon the first thing you notice is the spaciousness.  The tables were not all crammed together, so even though there may be alot of people, because of the spaciousness you can speak to and hear your dinner companions.  The tables were covered with white linen, linen napkins and every table accoutrement was perfect placed. And, amazingly they had a 'full bar,' but I stuck with wine.

This is the working epicenter of the restaurant with a wine and cocktail bar situated in front of a very open kitchen. So, if you wanted you can watch them prepare your food.

The menu was quite simple. You had a selection of 3-entrées, 3-plats, and 3 desserts. I actually prefer a smaller menu for a couple a reasons: #1 it's easier to make a selection, #2 it's a sign they only do a few things, presumably doing them well. And, the menu had a nice variety despite the smaller selection. Lunch menu changes daily, whereas the dinner menu changes weekly.


Two of us had the "Poitrine de cochon" (pork belly) -- I love pork belly and they made this right. It was sweet, juicy and luscious. Typically, they brine the pork to keep it moist and it can be very, very salty if not rinsed properly. This was not the case, it was not at all salty and had a nice balance of sugar as a result of the lacquering. It was accompanied by a squash and dandelion greens. Overall, an excellent dish. 

One person had the "Asperges vertes rôties au beurre d’algues, ventrêche kintoa et parmesan"
(green asparagus roasted with algae butter, Basque bacon, parmesan); our companion  said it was her favorite dish of the evening. I had a bite of it, and it was cooked well accompanied by little bits of salty, smoky bacon, which enhanced the sweetness of the asparagus. Another hit!

One person had the "Bonite oignons pailles crémeux, pousses de moutarde et chou kale" (bonito, yellow onion crémeux, mustard sprouts & kale cabbage)He liked the dish, but did not like accompanying onion sauce, it had almost a generic brown "gravy" taste, such as those bought in a bottle in the US.  I had a taste of the fish, and it was cooked to my liking, crispy on the outside and moist and rare on the inside, and the accompanying vegetables were delicious. Now if they can only fix that sauce!


I had the "Pigeon de Mesquer choux verts, pleurotes fumées, piquillos' (Mesquer’s pigeon, green cabbage, smoked oyster mushrooms, piquillos).  As typical, there's not much meat on a pigeon, but what there was, was delicious, albeit extremely salty for my palate. However, one of our guest liked the saltiness. If you're hungry, or adverse to alot of salt, this is not the dish for you! I would rate it just OK!

One person had the "Selle d’agneau
condiment dattes et citron confit, cébettes grillées et carottes colorées confites" 
(saddle of lamb, dates & lemon confit condiment, grilled spring onions, confites colored carrots). I had a bite of it and it was delicious, moist and perfectly cooked. And, the accompanying turnips with the grilled green onions just enhanced the meat perfectly. This was a winner.

And, two got the "Saint-Pierre navet boule d’or, betteraves de couleurs, chutney pommes gingembre" (John Dorry fish filets, golden turnips & colored beets, apple ginger chutney). A very simply cooked fish, sometimes the most difficult thing to cook are the most simplelist dishes, but they did it right.  It came with turnips, the turnips had a nice taste but slightly on the bitter side.


As usual I had the plate of cheese. There was a real nice collection of 2-chevres, a comte and a tomme de savoie cheese. As I always say, you can't go wrong with cheese in France. 

Two people got the "Pamplemousse corse 
crémeux pamplemousse, cédrat de Sicile confit, meringue corsican" (grapefruit crémeux, sicilian citron confit, meringue). On arrival, it was not what they expected at all In fact, the meringue was a large "vacherin"  (baked egg white cups) filled with a marshmallow type of cream and some dried fruit candy. It was a bit disappointing. 

One person had the "Cheesecake 
mangue, mélisse, granité citron vert"
(cheesecake with mango, lemon balm, lime granita).  Now this cake will definitely fool you. First of all it's not an "American" cheesecake. It was their interpretation of a cheesecake made with what tasted like  "fromage blanc".  One complaint about the dish, was that it was not sweet enough for a dessert. So, if you're craving for an American style cheese cake, this is not for you. It's a miss unless you like sour, not very sweet desserts!


Overall the entrées and plats were great, with only 2-minor, minor misses being the sauce on the bonito fish and my pigeon being way too salty.  With the exception of the cheese plate, the desserts need some work.  The cheesecake needs to be called something else and perhaps made sweeter. And, the pamplemoose needs to be described that it comes with a vacherin not a meringue, I for one am not a fan of vacherin. The service is excellent, and the menu comes with an english translation. 

Would we go out of our way to come back? absolutely.  With a bottle of Samur and a pichet of rosé our bill came to 93€ per couple!

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