About

"The reluctant 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)!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Happy Summer - Bon été 2016




Comme d'habitue (as usual), I will be spending the summer in the U.S.  I will continue my Paris restaurant reviews when I return in mid-September.

I want to wish all my readers a safe and Happy Summer!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

L'Accolade -- Restaurant Review


208 rue de la Croix Nivert
75015 Paris
Tel: 01 45 57 73 20
Closed Sundays
Metro: 12 (Convention), Bus line 62 (Convention-Lecoubre)

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+)

3.5 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2 - Bell


This restaurant is in our neighborhood. I recognized the area immediately and I thought, wait a minute, didn't this use to be the restaurant "Jadis"? and, it was.  Jadis was extremely popular in its heyday in the late 2000's, but starting losing favor because of the inconsistent food and the inconsistent service. So, we went in to see what the name change, the new Chef and new menu was all about.



We perused the menu. They had a standard menu which looks as if they serve it daily. And, they had a "menu of the day".  Note the "menu du jour" was an excellent, excellent deal.

Interestingly, none of us got the "Menu du jour" (menu of the day), we all went a la carte.

















ENTRÉES


Tartare de crevettes au mascarpone, avocats et tomates confites. (Shrimp tartare with mascarpone, avocados and confit of tomatoes). This was probably my favorite entrée of the day. The combination of the shrimp (brininess) with the soft smooth naturally sweet taste of the mascarpone and avocados served with tomatoes was such a wonderful combination of complimenting flavors. Overall an excellent start.






Petit pois, girolles et oeuf a 63º C. (Peas, mushrooms and egg 63º C). This was my next favorite entrée. Oftentimes "girolles" (mushrooms) can be extremely gritty from the sand. This is because there is a general belief that mushrooms should not be washed, but brushed, since flavor can be lost, and they absorb a lot of liquid. But these were very good, perfectly cooked and no sand and grit. And the peas were nice and firm, and the poached egg just added a wonderful delicious creaminess to the dish.



Raviolis de betteraves au chèvre frais et raves colores. (Beet ravioli with goat cheese and colorful leafs). This came in as our 3rd favorite. It was a very simple dish, nothing out of the ordinary, but a good dish none-the-less. However, I personally found the beet flavored cheese component too sweet.







PLATS 

Espadon, puree de carottes au gingembre, jus coco et curry. (Swordfish, carrot puree with ginger, coconut water and curry). The two who had this dish loved it. They thought the swordfish was cooked perfectly and the accompanying sweet puree'd carrots flavored with the ginger and coconut water added nice subtle flavors to enhance the dish. The only complaint the two had was that it may have been a little too salty.




Poitrine de cochon, puree maison sauce miel et coriandre.  (Pork belly, their special mash potatoes with honey and coriander sauce). I love pork belly, and this pork belly was delicious. Perfectly cooked with a crusty exterior and moist interior Note, there were bits of fat, but that's characteristic, but that's what pork belly is all about. The only complaint I have is a personal one, I do not like sweet anything. So, for me, although the mashed potatoes were delicious, I found them too sweet. But most would find the combination delicious.


Minute d’agneau, legumes verts, jus d'agneau. (Minute lamb, green vegetables, lamb jus). The person ordering this dish was a bit disappointed. He likes really rare meat. Unfortunately, the way the meat was cut into morsels, even though it may have been cooked for a minute, the residual heat made it more done than he would've liked. For me, who neither likes rare nor raw meats, I thought the lamb was perfectly cooked. I think it was a very good plat. In hindsight, although I loved the pork, I should've switched with him.


DESSERTS


Sable breton, creme citron, fraises. (Breton butter crust, lemon cream, with strawberries). I liked this dessert. I had a taste of it. Who doesn't like butter crust; nice and buttery almost like a butter cookies. The lemon cream was more like a soft pastry cream flavored with lemon. I liked that it wasn't too tart. And, the freshness of the strawberries was just a nice overall refreshing dessert.



Millefeuille vanille et caramel beurre salé.  (Leafs of puff pastry with vanilla and caramel salted butter). This was our favorite dessert of the day. WOW, delicious all around. Millefeuille as we know it is more commonly used to make "Napoleons". The flaky crust alone I could've eaten. And, the vanilla cream with the caramel just put this over the top. We loved this dessert.








As for the wines, we got one each of Brumont LA Gascogne D’Alain Brumont sauvignon blanc and a merlot. These are wines from the southwest of France.

Merlot. It was a good wine that's actually in the same family as that of the cabernet sauvignon. So the wine is not a strong wine, but because of the less tannins it had a fruitier taste.

Sauvignon.  Characteristic of sauvignon blancs, it can range from a zesty lime to a flowery peach flavor. I would say it was somewhat in the middle.








SUMMARY

I'm glad Chef Guillaume Delage came in and bought out the old "Jadis Restaurant" which for whatever reason was going downhill quickly.  He basically created a whole new menu. His philosophy is "cook today’s best products in yesterday’s style."  I give him credit on his flavorings. He went outside the "French-box" to add flavors not normally associated with French cuisine such as curry or coconut water. The service was EXCELLENT. Our waiter actually spent the time to go over the menu line-by-line. Because the lamb did not come out as our friend specifically requested it, rare, my overall rating would've been higher.  Would I go back, ABSOLUTELY, it's in walking distance of our apartment.

For 4-entrées, 4-plats, 3-desserts, 2-bottles of wine, and 3-coffees 204.40€, or just over 51€ a person.





Friday, June 17, 2016

L'Assiette -- Restaurant Review


181, rue du Château
75014 Paris
tel: +33 (0) 143 226 486
Bus: Line 62 (Les plantes)
Metro (13) Pernéty, (4) Mouton-Duvernet
Website: http://restaurant-lassiette.paris/ 

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+)

4.5 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2 - Bell


Another great find not too far from our home.  I could've walked, but unfortunately it was raining so I opted to take the short bus ride. The restaurant is tucked away on a side street of a main thoroughfare, Avenue du Maine in the 14eme. It's the only red building on the tiny side street of Rue du Château.


It's a spacious restaurant, but what caught my attention was the etched acid stained glass ceiling. It was quite impressive. The maitre'd and our waitress warmly greeted us and while we waited for our friends to arrive they gave us some nice slices of thin "jambon" (ham), very tasty I might add.



We perused the menu, they had a nice selection of meats, fowl and seafood, in particular squid. They also had a daily prix-fixe menu, which I guess must be their staples because they did have substitutions for the 2-plats, which was pork and a octopus risotto, replacing the "quail" and "squid."


ENTRÉES

Bisque de crevettes. (Shrimp bisque). At the bottom of the bowl were some crispy croutons and some chopped shrimps, with a dollop of creme fraiche. Our wait person poured a thick rich bisque. I tasted it, and it was absolutely delicious, albeit rich. The shrimp flavors came through and the crunchiness of the croutons gave it texture, and the chopped bits of shrimp added to the shrimp flavor. It was a hit.








Terrine de campagne. (Country terrine). Recently, I've had some fatty, very dry and even "grissly" terrines, this was neither. This was a great example of what a terrine should be. There were bits and pieces of various cuts of meat.  It was encased in pork skin which I assumed help keep it moist naturally.  It came with a slaw made of simple creamy mayonnaise, and accompanied with slices of crunchy toasted slices of baguettes. I'd have to say this was one of the best terrines I've had in a long time.




PLATS

Poulpe risotto. (Squid risotto). I don't know why, but I was expecting squid ink, probably because I misunderstood what the special was. But I was pleasantly surprised to see a risotto flavored with saffron. The dish was simply presented, but it did pack a punch of different flavors and textures. The risotto was perfectly cooked (al-dente) and the octopus was so incredibly tender. Then much to our surprise there was a piece of sweet braised pork and perfectly salted. What an absolutely great dish, visually, texturally and hit different notes in your mouth.




Râble de lapin farci de cochon rôti en cocotte. [Stuffed rabbit cooked in a cocotte (cast iron casserole pot)]. I like the taste of rabbit (tastes like chicken, hahaha), but I rarely order it because I find the thin bones bothersome. This rabbit was "deboned" and stuffed. It was slowly braised, I had a taste of the rabbit and have to say it was perfectly cooked and very moist. It was accompanied with carrots and various vegetables. A nice hearty stew.






Cochon en cocotte. (Pork cooked in a cocotte). This was one of the specials of the day. It was actually poitrine de cochon (pork belly),  typically cooked with the skin and a layer of fat. I had a taste of it, it was cooked perfectly, moist and succulent. And, my friend who had it loved the simple braised pork.










Pappardelles de seiche façon paella. (Pappardelle with squid paella way).  When I first read this, I don't know why I assumed it would be a pasta dish because of the papparadelles in the title. Turns out the squid was thinly, evenly sliced to mimick pappardelles pasta, ingenious! What a great whimsical dish. The squid sat atop the same risotto I had.  And, a crowning glory, sat a sweet braised piece of pork. Interesting dish and a very good dish, but my least favorite.






DESSERTS

Île Flottante. (Floating island). This is a very popular French dessert. It's basically a meringue (island), floating on a sea of crème anglaise. This meringue was formed. At first glance I thought it was a creme brulée. Typically the meringues are just scooped onto the dish, but the Chef made it point to make it look more refined, these are the kinds of detail that separate Chefs from cooks. It was covered in a nice caramel sauce, which was a nice accompaniment. I tasted and  it was light, airy and simply delicious.




Fontainebleau aux framboises, râpée de citron vert. (Raspberry cream with lime). Another french classic dessert akin to a  "panne cotta"  Typically this dessert is made with a form of cottage cheese. The dessert was smooth, and the citrus flavor gave it almost a yogurt type of flavor. The citrus and the raspberries definitely were pronounced. And, for added texture, was topped with some cookies that resembled "churros".  Overall a good classic French dessert.




Assiette de fromage. (Cheese plate). And, of course the cheese plate. I told them that I don't eat dessert and they brought out two simple cheeses of Saint-Nectaire cheese and an aged cow cheese. No complaints here.














SUMMARY

Chef Clermont David Rathgeber has quite the pedigree of experiences. He trained under the tutelage of one of the best chefs in the world, Alain Ducasse.  And, has worked at restaurants such as Louis XV in Monaco and Plaza Athénée in Paris. And, to boot he's worked at the Essex House in New York, and several places ;throughout Asia, such as Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.  Now onto the food; what can I say, this is one of the best meals I've had in a very long time. Classical French dishes done "presque parfait" (near perfect) from the simple country entrées and "cocottes", to a very inventive and whimsical squid dish to mimic pappardelle pasta, and the classic French desserts and cheeses. The service was EXCELLENT. Our waiter was very patient and explained the dishes on each menu. It's a neighborhood restaurant without pretentions. But dining is about the whole experience, from the time you make the reservations to the time you leave, and without a doubt, overall it was a wonderful experience. Would I go back? ABSOLUTELY.

They did have quite an extensive wine list, and hefty prices came with it. We ordered a simple rosé from Provence at 36€ a bottle, which was the least expensive of the wines, but in my excitement over the food I forgot to take a photo. But overall, the price point for a near perfect meal is excellent.

With 2-three course prix-fixe, 2-two course prix-fixe, and 2-a la carte and 2-bottles of rosé our bill came to 256€ for 6-people, or close to 43€ per person.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pierre Sang Boyer-- 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+)

3.2 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 3 - Bell


This restaurant is in the "Oberkampf" section of Paris in the 11eme arrondissement. This used to be quite a "gritty" neighborhood and has since been very gentrified. Pierre has two restaurants one on Rue Oberkampf, which we went to, and a few steps on the side street of Rue Gambey also his name sake "Pierre Sang."


The restaurant is actually quite small. There was a long bar as you entered with seats for dining. We sat in the basement section where all the wines were stored. It actually felt like we were dining in a wine cellar which is fine by me. Our table was originally set up for 5, but one more friend decided to join They accommodated us by squeezing in another chair. It was tight, but cozy and happily we were all able to break bread together.

The restaurant has only one 'surprise' tasting menu, there are no choices nor a menu telling you what is coming, but they do ask if you have allergies, and according to our waiter, every two days the menu changes. You can have a 2, 3, or 5 course tasting menu.  We all opted for 3-courses. They serve your meal without telling you what it is, and then ask you what you think it was after you ate it. I'm not sure if this was done with each table or just ours, but regardless it was an interesting concept.

There were no "amuse bouches" that were provided and we immediately got our entrées.

ENTRÉE


Shrimp with a broccoli sauce. A very, very simple dish. The shrimp was grilled and sat atop a puree of broccoli. For added sourness, it had some vinegary red onions, a half of a sour cherry and radishes, and garnish with greens that I'm not familiar with, but the waiter said it was indigenous from the south of France.  It was a good dish, but nothing out of the ordinary.









PLAT


Veal with lentils.  The veal was perfectly cooked and sat atop a bed of lentils.  As a vegetable side it came with a braised bok choy and small cut up haricort vert and beets.  They had a nice heaping of "Gochujang" and our waiter also told us that it was also mixed with pureed kimchi.  The dish was also splattered with wilted arugula. The veal was cooked perfectly, the haricort vert was al-dente, and the bok choy was nicely braised. The gochujang added a nice dimension to the dish with its spiciness. Our waiter was concerned that it was too spicy, silly boy. We told him it could've been spicier, our group all liked spicy food. Overall it was an excellent, well composed dish.


DESSERTS


Apricot ice cream with crumble. A very simple dessert of an apricot ice cream sitting atop a sweet buttery crumble topped off with a lemon creme anglaise and garnished with fresh julienne arugula. And, a nice little surprise of a sugared piece of apricot. My friends who had it said it was very good and enjoyed the differing textures to make it a well balanced dessert.








Cheese plate. I told our waiter up front that I don't eat desserts, but if they had an alternative cheese dish I would take that. I give them credit for this, because it wasn't on their menu but they managed to rustle up some cantal cheese for me, served with a peppery orange marmalade that give it a nice little kick.







WINES

Domaine Pierre Martin 2015 Sancerre.  This is actually one of my favorite whites. This wine is described as being refreshing and has a nice acidity, ripe fruit and a long finish.

Philippe Alliet Chinon. The red drinkers in our group ordered this bottle. A medium red wine that's known for its nice fruity and aromatic nose, with freshness.












SUMMARY

Pierre Sang Boyer became a local celebrity when he finished third in the season 2 of "Top Chef" France.  He was born in Korea, but adopted at the age of 7 by a French family. He actually went back to Korea to find his roots and upon his return infuseed some of the flavors of Asia into his cooking style. Interestingly, other than the gochujang used as a dipping sauce and the bok choy as vegetable side, there was really nothing Asian or any spices that were infused into the dishes that I tasted.  The entrée was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. The plat was excellent and all of us agreed it was a well composed dish. And, the dessert in it's simplicity was very good. One of my pet peeve's is not changing out utensils between courses, and in this was the case between the entrée and plat. In my book, there's just no excuse for this, and as a result I gave them an overall lower rating than I would have normally. Our service was very good though. They were very accommodating when we had to change our number and our waiter was quite friendly and amicable. Overall, I thought the food was above average and the price point was excellent. It's a noisy fun place, and not a place to go for a romantic dinner. The cellar was quite warm, but we noticed later it cooled down, so they must've had an air-conditioner, rare in Paris. Would I go back? for lunch porquoi pas (why not).

For 3-courses and two bottles of wine our bill came to 228€ for 6-people or 38€ a person. An incredibly good price point ratio.






Thursday, June 9, 2016

Cinq Mars Restaurant -- Restaurant Review


51, Rue de Verneuil
75007 Paris
Tel: 
01 45 44 69 13
Opened every day
Metro (12) Solferino

Website: http://cinq-mars-restaurant.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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

2.70 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 4.5 - Bell


This restaurant is located in the posh area of Paris, the 7eme arrondissement, close to the Musée d'Orsay and the Saint-Germain-des-Prés.




It's a small restaurant, but they managed to pack quite a number of tables inside the restaurant. It was a warm day and with no air-conditioning we were grateful all the windows were open. Fortunately, we had an "independent" table for 4 next to the interesting listings of wines handwritten on a chalk board.

As we entered the restaurant we noticed it was extremely busy. One of my friends was a bit insulted because she was the first to go up to the maitre'd and yet, he helped the man behind her first, so this was a bit disconcerting.

Although, one friend was late, we sat at the table for what seemed like a very long time before the wait-staff even asked us if we wanted any water or wine while we waited for our friend.



They had 2-menus, the menu of the day, which was a prix-fixe lunch for a very, very reasonable price of 18€ for 2-courses or 22.50€ for 3-courses.  And, they had their regular a-la-carte menu.  One of us selected the 3-course menu, while three of us ordered a-la-carte.

ENTRÉE



Tartine de campagne aux veau et pleurotes (Country bread with veal and mushrooms). This entrée reminded me a lot of "blanquette de veau", it was not a shy entrée by any means. It was creamy rich with lots of mushrooms and tidbits of veal. It was accompanied with crispy toasted slices of baguette. It was rustic in its presentation, but over-all we thought it was a very good, hearty entrée, but nothing out of the ordinary.




Veloute d’asperges (Cream of asparagus soup). The soup was served in a large tureen and a dollop of cream which you could mix into your soup as desired.  The soup was good, rich and creamy, but nothing out of the ordinary, almost nondescript.













Salade de poulpe, huile d’olive et citron (Octopus salad, olive oil and lemon). I had the octopus salad. I have to say in its simplicity this was a very, very good dish because it was cooked well. The octopus was extremely tender, not an easy feat. The lemon added a nice citrus flavor. The only minor complaint I had about this entrée, was that it was a bit salty.






PLATS


Cote de cochon nourri au lin, purée de céleri (Pork chop with flaxseeds and a purée of celeriac).  Three of us had this dish, and we thought it was quite a nice generous portion. This was a rustic cut of pork which included the rind/fat which I think adds to the moistness and taste of the dish.  We all agreed the pork chop was delicious. The purée of celeriac was a nice alternative to mash potatoes. What I did find odd though was a clump of parsley put on the side, very 1980's plating.  But overall, a very good hearty rustic dish.


Cuisse poulet fermier, puree de pomme de terre (Leg/thigh of farm raised chicken, mashed potatoes). This was a very simple dish, a roast chicken with mashed potatoes, it was nothing extraordinary, but a good basic dish none-the-less. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of this dish.


DESSERTS


Verrine de fraises à la chantilly (Strawberries and cream). There was nothing to this dessert since it's basically strawberries and cream. It was a good basic dessert you can have at any home and/or restaurant.











Assiette de fromages (cheese plate).  The plate had basically 2-types of cheeses, it included a chevre (goat cheese) and Comté (unpasteurized aged cow cheese).  Nice contrasts between the 2-cheeses and it came with some confiture.










SUMMARY

The service was a bit off-putting in the beginning with the mishap with my friend trying to get our table, and with myself I felt a little attitude. And, granted we expected slow service, that's the norm, unhurried service, but it seemed longer than usual. Normally at minimum we should've been asked if we wanted some water or wine until our friend arrived. I have to say though, that the wait-staff did warm up to us later.  This restaurant served good basic French cuisine. Our favorite was the octopus entrée and the pork plat, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. I can see why it's very popular at lunch time. It was packed and extremely noisy. Having a conversation was nearly impossible, but as it thinned out, it became easier. The prices are very reasonable and I would go back for the simple basic food and price ratio. This is not a place you'd go for the ambiance, nor a place to go for a business meeting, or for that matter a romantic meal.

For 1-prix-fixe 3-course lunch, 2-entrées, 2-plats, a cheese plate, and 2-bottles of rosé our meal came to 44€ each.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Le Café du Commerce -- Restaurant Review


50 Rue du Commerce
Ouvert tous les jours de 12h à 15h et de 19h à minuit
Tel : 01 45 75 03 27
commercial@lecafeducommerce.com
Métro : La Motte Piquet, Emile Zola, Commerce


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+)

2.80 - Star......................................................€€......................................................... 4 - Bell

It's funny how you can live in a neighborhood and never really explore the restaurants close by. It took my language coach and friend to invite me to this place and it turns out to be a short walk from our apartment.  We had no idea it was going to be a warm day, and we thought of finding a place to eat outdoors, but we decided to keep our reservations. All the tables were inside and as I mentioned, there are no outdoor seating "al fresco" dining. Unbeknownst to us, it's an extremely popular neighborhood restaurant and was quite busy.  In fact, our lunch reservations were for 1:30 pm and we got seated about 10-minutes later, and there was still quite the line to try and get in.


The inside is immense. There's 3-stories, but only 2 were occupied today.  It felt like you were outside, even though technically you were inside the restaurant. The main dining room was open, and there's lots of greenery to make you feel like you were outdoors. And, I noticed as I entered they had a full bar, nice start. Later on, I also found out they had special cocktails of the day, which we did not partake.



The menu was quite extensive and they even had specials of the day. It almost felt like an American menu, but with many more French choices. I did, however, see the "fish and chips", which I came very close to getting, but decided later to do French country.














ENTRÉE



Maquereau (mackerel).  We both decided to get the mackerel entrée. It was mackerel in a light vinaigrette and sat atop a preserved lemon. Interestingly, it did not have that typical very sour taste, it was actually quite mild. My friend got a few bones in his, but I had none. It was served with a sort of crostini of tomatoes. Overall a good, simple dish, but nothing out of the ordinary.

















PLATS

Cuissot de cochon de lait, linguini, chips de bacon maison (Suckling pig that sat atop a linguine and some bacon chips). The combinations sounded fabulous. My friend said it was good, but again a good wholesome dish, nothing out of the ordinary.

















Pied de porc maison grillé (cuit: 12 heures) (grilled pigs feet cooked for 12-hours).  Now you have to like pigs feet if you order this dish. The dish looked immense, but in reality it's more bones than anything else. I liked the dish. It was crispy on the exterior as a result of the breading, and the interior was very tender and moist, albeit characteristically fatty, but like I said you have to like pigs feet, which I do.  As if the dish couldn't be any richer, it was also served with a side of mild tartar sauce and fries. It was a good wholesome dish. 















What does one drink on a very warm summer day, why rosé. My friend knows more about wine than I do, so he ordered a "Domaine Turenne Cotes de Provence Camille".  It was a really nice rosé, a little on the tart side, but extremely refreshing, and actually went well with my pork considering how fatty it was. But then again, I'm partial to rosés.












SUMMARY

It took a friend to introduce me to a neighborhood restaurant. This restaurant is extremely popular with the locals in the neighborhood, and seems to always be very, very busy.  Even though it's an extremely large restaurant, it's also an extremely noisy restaurant, as a result I gave them a lower rating than I would normally.  While not a fine dining establishment nor would you want to go there for a romantic dinner, they serve good wholesome food at reasonable prices.  In an odd way, it sort of reminded me of the "Cheesecake Factory" restaurant chain, with less choices and more charm. It's a really fun restaurant. The waiters were charming and liked to joke around. Would I go back, sure, it's in our hood.

For 2-entrées, 2-plats, a bottle of Rose and 1-coffee our bill came to 79.90€ about 40€ each. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Le Grand Restaurant -- Restaurant Review


7 rue d'Aguesseau
75008 Paris
tel: 01.53.05.00.00
Metro: Line 1 (Concorde)
Website: http://www.jeanfrancoispiege.com/fr

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+)

4.50 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 1 - Bell


Le Grand restaurant location is in what we know as the "Golden Triangle." An exclusive real estate area of Paris which houses some of the most famous shops and restaurants in Paris.  The restaurant did not have any large signage, but can easily be found.


As you walk into the restaurant you get a long view of the myriad of chefs working different stations. The stained-glass skylight gave the restaurant a nice bright ambiance. It's a very modern decor, but very cozy, comfortable and pleasant. There is seating for 25-people, the tables were nicely spaced and we were fortunate to have had a private alcove. Each table had a purse/murse stool, so it doesn't have to sit on the floor. Our table was quite large for 4-people, net-net they do not skimp on space.


At the helm is Chef Jean-François Piège a French celebrity Chef who has appeared on several TV shows and written several cookbooks and more importantly was recently awarded a prestigious 2-Michelin stars in 2016, so our expectations were quite high. We perused the menu and decided it was too difficult to make a decision, so we all opted for the prix-fixe menu at 80€.


AMUSE BOUCHE


We had an assortment of 4-amuse bouches. Each very distinct in flavors. First was a little "scaled" bread stick. It was flaky and a little salty but was unique in that it had an egg wash to give it a nice sweet contrast and added dimension and flavor.











The other 3-amuse bouches came as a group, and our waiter recommended we start it in a particular order, but we didn't follow his instructions, regardless they were excellent in any order. We had a Parmesan cream, a fish with a crispy wafer and a crispy cracker akin to Asian shrimp crackers. Each distinct in flavor but complimentary to one another.  Interesting to note, we were not given utensils for the amuse bouches, since in essence they were little "finger-foods".  I  found it amusing since many Europeans do not like to touch their food, so maybe this cultural European "quirk" is changing. Regardless the amuse bouches were nice little tidbits of palate teasers.


ENTRÉE

Asperges vertes du Domaine Roques-Hautes, étuvées au plein beurre noisettes comme un pralin, jus de clementines, oxalys sauvage. (Green asparagus of Domain Roque-Hautes, steamed in butter hazelnuts and a praline, juice of clementines, wild oxalys (plant)). This particular asparagus is grown in a region of France known for this artisanal type of asparagus. Asparagus is in season and I have to say this dish was absolutely delicious. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and the orange was a nice added citrus that brought this otherwise simple dish to the next level. The praline was a nice textural components. Overall, we had nothing but compliments on this wonderful tasty dish.


PLATS

Fin biscuit d'omble chevalier légèrement souffle, morilles, reduction de savagnin a l’oseille sauvage, crouton a la creme ou la piece de viande, traitee comme un mijote modern sucs de cuisson. (delicate biscuit slightly charred, morels, savagnin reduction of a wild sorrel, crouton with cream or meat pieces, treated as a modern simmering cooking juices).  We opted for the meat, which we were told would be lamb and that the lamb would be coated with a quinoa crust. We loved everything on this dish except for the coating. In fact, one of us commented that as she bit into the meat she thought she had a piece of bone, but it turned out to be the quinoa. However the other components of this dish were excellent. The meat was succulent and perfectly cooked. I would suggest they use another crust coating.


We were given two-sides, a dish which I thought was a dark mashed potatoes, but turned out to be a creamy walnut concoction that was absolutely delicious, and a side of greens; nice accompaniments to the lamb.










Note: Several types of breads were served, all excellent.


DESSERTS


As typical, I had the cheese plates.  It was served on a beautiful different level-tiered chopping blocks.  All I can say is wow, what a nice variety. There were sheep cheeses. goat cheeses as well as cow cheeses. With it came some sweetened sour cherries and some confiture.  Overall, excellent choices.






And, we were given 2-desserts, each came separately. The first was a soft, very light tender cream custard topped with a crispy sweet tuile. I didn't notice it, but my friend said it was also speckled with gold. It was a very light refreshing dessert.

The second dessert was a lemon sorbet nice and tart sprinkled with nuts and some crispy sweet shavings of a lighter tuile. Also excellent.






Then came this intricate box that when opened up had little tea-cups filled with just a spoonful of what I believed to be creamy almond milk. It was like an amuse bouche, but served after the lovely desserts. So I have to assume it was meant as a palate cleanser.






Then when we thought all was said and done, our wait-person came with what looked like a large chocolate egg on a egg-stand, lifted the egg and threw it on our table. When it cracked, it revealed little morsels of sweet goodies. This was a very  "Grant Achatz"   moment. FYI..., he invented the "Pollock" style of using the dining table as a gigantic dessert canvas.


WINES

The restaurant does have an extensive collection of wines, prices raced from 38€ to a whopping couple of hundred Euros. We ordered a bottle of Chateau des Tours Côtes-du-rhône blanc. We actually enjoyed it. It's a much drier white wine, but still had some smoothness that went well with our dishes.














SUMMARY

I can see why Chef Jean-François Piège was recently awarded 2-Michelin stars for this restaurant. The whole dining experience was excellent from start to finish. The service was beyond reproach. The timing was like a well orchestrated ballet but instead of dancing shoes, they wore gloves. The restaurant in its simplicity is beautiful, comfortable and well laid out, filled with natural lighting provided by the skylights. The only complaint was we unanimously did not like the quinoa crust on the lamb. With the exception of that, everything was exceptionally delicious. My rating would have been almost perfect had it not been for the crusting. Would we go back, absolutely.

For 3-prix-fixe lunches at 80€ and a bottle of Chateau des Tours Côtes-du-rhône blanc, our bill came to 285€ for 3-people, or 95€ each.