"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)!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Au Petit Tonneau -- Restaurant Review

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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

3.25 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 3 - Bell

Having returned to France from our winter break, for whatever reason I wanted to go to a classic old-school French Bistro. Et voila, I recommended to our friends that we go to this restaurant in 7th. It's in a "nice" area of Paris the 7eme. In fact, it's not too far and on the same block as 1-starred Michelin restaurant David Toutain (see my review of "David Toutain").

20 rue Surcouf, 7eme
Tel. 01-47-05-09-01
Metro: Invalides or La Tour-Maubourg
Closed Monday

It's not a large restaurant it harkened to the old days of typical classic bistros. The tables had the red and white checkered tablecloths of yesteryear, and the tables were snug next to one another, so they had to be pulled out if you were against a wall so you can be let it. So, let's say it was cozy.

They had a nice menu, good selections of old French classic dishes. The menu was 2-sided, in French on one side, and English on the other side.  Some of us were concerned about it being quite heavy and hardy, but I figured we don't do it often, so why not.

They also had a prix-fixe lunch menu that was reasonably priced at 24€ for a entrée + plat and 29€ for all 3-courses. Three of us opted the lunch special and one opted a-la-carte.

On the tables were already some dried sausages and cornichons, and some sliced radishes, which I assumed served as the amuse bouche.


Oeuf poché, pleurotes à la crème et jambon de pays (Poached egg, oyster mushrooms and local ham). This was a great start. The egg sat atop of some cream. Scattered at the bottom were oyster mushrooms, and sitting atop of the dish were slices of local dried ham. The eggs was perfectly poached, and at first bite I thought it needed salt, but as I dug into the dish, the addition of the ham brought a nice saltiness to the dish. And, the mushrooms were a nice accompaniment and bonus. Overall, an excellent entrée.

Salad with Blue Cheese. A salad made with frisée. It was a great salad with nice big chunks of Roquefort cheese, and it had the added crunchiness of walnuts. The dressing was a bit on the tart side for my taste, but JJ loved it. Overall it was a good basic salad.


Filet de Daurade Plancha, écrasé de pommes de terre aux agrumes. (Filet of Sea bream pan fried, served with smashed citrus potatoes). It's not a particularly attractive dish. The fish was nice and tender, unfortunately, the skin was not as crisp as I would've wanted it to be, but still delicious. The combination of the citrus to the potatoes was a good idea, it gave the fish a little more freshness.  The dish could've definitely needed something green to liven it up.

Veal Kidney served in a madeira sauce.  JJ ordered the kidney. The kidney came alone and you can add (4€) an accompaniment of several greens such as a salad or haricot vert or potatoes. JJ opted for another salad. I like kidneys, but not a big fan of it. I did taste it and I have to say it was very good. The kidney was covered in a madeira sauce that incorporated mushrooms, onions and some slices of bacon. It's definitely not a light dish, but overall a very good dish.


And, for desserts, the three each had classic french desserts:  tarte citron (lemon tart), tarte tatin (apple tart), and Mousse chocolat (chocolate mousse).  All very good, but nothing out of the ordinary.


RED -- La demoiselle d’haut-peyrat Haut Medoc 2012 -- A red wine from the Bordeaux area. Expert describe this wine as having tasting notes of dark fruits and berries such as plum and blackcurrant. And, the tannins tend to be relatively high in these wines, giving them a firm structure.

WHITE -- Pascal Jolivet attitude 2015 sauvignon blanc 2015 -- A wine from the Loire Valley. Experts describe the taste as having delicate aromas of lime, green apple, kiwi fruit and some vegetal notes. Mineral notes give the wine a pleasant mouthfeel, balanced with good acidity and a citrus fresh finish.


If you're craving for old school, retro French food, then this is the bistro for you. The restaurant provided quite an array of old French classics. With the exception of one person, we all wanted a lighter fare, so three of us chose the fish dish. We all enjoyed the entrée of poached eggs. The salad was good. And, I did notice that there wasn't much greens being offered, unless you ordered a-la-carte. So, I guess it was a good thing that JJ ordered a salad for an entrée and also for an accompaniment to this main course of veal kidneys since the portions were large and we were able to share them. The restaurant serves very good old French classics. The service was excellent. It is definitely above average, but nothing outstanding. Would we go back, pourquoi pas?

With 3-prix-fixe lunches with 2 ordering the 3-course meal, and I ordered the 2-course meal., 1 a-la-carte of veal kidney and 1-dessert, with 1-bottle of wine, 2-glasses of wine, and 3-coffees our bill came to 181€ for 4-people or 45.25€ per person.

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