"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, July 23, 2018

Le Récamier -- Restaurant Review

4 rue Récamier 75007
Tel: 01 45 48 86 58
Metro 12 (Sevres-Babylon)
website: https://lerecamier.com/fr/
Opening: Check website for operating hours. 

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+)

4.25 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2 - Bell

At the recommendation of a friend who lives close by, she suggested we try this restaurant. I'm always game to try new restaurants. I've been told by several people that their specialty are the soufflés. I used to not like soufflés because I found them unsatisfying, but have become a big fan over the years.

As I entered the restaurant, I asked if we could have a table outside. Unfortunately, all the tables outside were already reserved. So, I had the choice of the indoor, which is quite lovely, or an enclosed terrace. The difference between the enclosed terrace and the outdoor was that you can smoke outdoors by French law. So, in a way it was fortuitous that we got this table in the enclosed terrace and being able look out to the courtyard. Our wait-person came by shortly after we got our aperitifs and said a table became available outside, but we opted to stay in, since we did see a few people smoking.

MENU. We perused the menu, and they had their suggestion of the day as well as their standard menu.  Oddly enough the menu suggestion of the day did not have any soufflé option.

We opted to share 2-entrées, and each get a soufflé for our plat.

Note: There was no amuse bouche served.

ENTRÉE: Smoked salmon with blini and a caviar of eggplant. We told our wait-staff that we would be sharing the 2, there were 3 of us. To our pleasant surprise the staff divided the entrées into 3 portions. Now that's what I call service.

Interestingly, our smoked salmon was not served with a crème fraîche, it was just plain. On reflection, I think it's very rare that I've ever been served smoked salmon with a crème fraîche, a french cream cheese called "St. Moret" or even yoghurt. So I did some research and apparently as in most things french, "ça dépend" (it depends). It's not uncommon just to serve salmon plain when served with a salad and to let the salmon speak for itself. Or if you're having an hors-d'œuvre it's oftentimes pre-prepared with e.g., crème fraîche atop the blini with the salmon topping that.  So, I'm thinking since it was served as a salad and there was already oils, balsamic and lemon, they excluded the crème. However, having some e.g., crème fraîche would've cut the saltiness of the salmon. The eggplant caviar was good. Smoother than I would've liked. And, the lemon and sweet balsamic vinegar added to the dish. A good dish, but nothing extraordinary.

PLATS. Soufflé. We all had a soufflé.  And, all the soufflés came out perfectly puffed and beautiful. We all had different flavors, chevre, rouget, and I had the escargot soufflé, so I'll speak to that. At first whiff, I immediately smelled the garlic, characteristic of any good escargot dish. The escargot pieces were served on top whereas the garlic flavoring was incorporated into the soufflé. All I can say it was very light, full of flavor and lovely. One of the best soufflés I've had in Paris. First thing Jack asked when I got home was, did you have garlic? haha.

As for my friends, they each thought, as I did, that their soufflés equally were delicious as mine.

Chef GÉRARD IDOUX, has been around the cooking world a long time. He was the master chef at Cicada, next door to Le Bon Marché and had quite a following. He opened up "Le Récamier" about 12 years ago and his fans followed. I can see why; he's quite personable and his food is delicious. He came to our table several times, I guess enamored by my beautiful companions, and who wouldn't be.

SUMMARY: The location can't be beat. It's in a courtyard, so away from the pollution and noise of the cars. You have 3-choices of seatings: interior, a closed terrace, and an open air terrace, the latter being only available during warmer weather. The service was really remarkable, considering they divided our entrée proportionately by 3, even though we only ordered 2 entrées. The entrées were good, but the soufflé much better. Very light and airy, and remarkable kept its shape throughout our meal. I gave it a high rating, because for me dining is about the WHOLE experience. Atmosphere, food, serve was top notch. Would I go back, IN A HEARTBEAT. I'd like to try the other dishes besides the soufflés on the menu.

So, with 2-entrées, 3-soufflés, 1-glass of veuve cliquot champagne, 2-glasses of Bourgogne chardonnay (one comped) and one coke, and 1-bottle of evian, our bill came to 152.40€ or about 51€ rounded up per person.

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