"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)!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Will -- Restaurant Review

75 Rue Crozatier 12eme
Tel: 01 53 17 02 44
Metro: Ledru-Merlin
email: willrestaurant@gmail.com
Open: Monday lunch: Tuesday through Saturday, lunch and dinner
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) Note: Does not include beverages

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+)

  4.5 - stars...............................................................€€€........................................................... 1 - Bell

Note: If you order from the pre-fix menu, it's much more reasonable

What a find. This restaurant has just been opened for a little more than 2-weeks, but Chef William Pradeleix is no stranger to fine cooking. He has worked with the legendary Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in London and with Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the St. Regis in Bora Bora. And, prior to Will, he worked at "Manager" in Paris which got rave reviews.

This restaurant is located right around the corner from "Marché D'Aligre" a very popular market in the 12eme. At first I thought it's sort of an out of the way location, since it's very much in a residential area, with little if any business traffic. But as I thought about it, this area draws alot of people locally and from all over the world for the market. For us, it's on the other side of Paris, so rarely are we in this arrondissement.

The interior of the building is lovely. Very new and modern, with extremely large, wide open windows. In fact, the windows gave it more of a sense of space, even though it's not a large restaurant.  My guess is that it probably holds 30-people.

The menu was presented in a slip envelop, they did not spare any expense on the quality of the menu. And, their logo reminded me of the "W" hotels logo, hmmm?  They do have a lunch special for 19€ which included 2 small entrees and the plat du jour or the plat du jour and a dessert of your choice.  Very reasonable. So, we perused the menu a bit before we made our decisions. It was a very interesting menu, first thought was this was going to be an Asian Fusion restaurant.


Originally one friend ordered the "Consommé Thai", to follow with the special of the day which was beef cheeks. The waiter spoke to the Chef, and said to our friend that the consommé and beef cheeks had the same broth, would he like to try something different to give him more of variety? Wow, now who does that in Paris. The restaurant went up a notch as far as I'm concerned. So, instead he opted for the "Hamachi -- bonbon de pamplemousse/réduction citrus" (Amberjack fish - sweet grapefruit / citrus reduction) . The two men loved it. I took a taste of it and thought it was delicious, but for me it's a taste preference, I do not like grapefruit in any form or shape! But objectively speaking, it was right on mark!

I had the "Carpaccio de maigre citronnelle/vinaigrette gingembre" (Carpaccio of fish lemon / ginger vinaigrette). This dish was to die for. It had a very, very light soy with the lemon, almost tasted like there was "mirin". This dish was perfect for a first start. The fish was so fresh and tender, and the radishes gave it a nice contracting texture.

Now in both cases of the fish entrées, they reminded me so much of sashimi, the difference being they already incorporated the sauces into the fish; hence no need to have dipping sauces (e.g., soy sauce and wasabi), or pickled ginger. They were both a hit. I bet if they added a touch of wasabi if it would been fantastic and brought it to the next level. But alas, it would be too strong for the majority of the French palate!

One person had the "Asperges blanches Mousse dashi/rhubarbe rafraichie" (White asparagus mousse dashi / rhubarb refreshed).  I am not normally a fan of white asparagus. I find them extremely boring and bland. However, the way the Chef prepared this dish was excellent. The creamy dashi was subtle and the rhubarb although not obvious added a surprisingly sweet note rather than a sour note, which rhubarbs are known to impart.


"Daikon en risotto à l'encre coquillages / émulsion curcuma" (Daikon in ink risotto shellfish / emulsion turmeric) thus far all the entrées have been excellent and this plat was over the top in terms of creativity and taste elements.  The daikon were cubed to make it appear like risotto, they were wonderfully creamy with the right amount of squid ink to give it a distinct taste. The shell fish were cooked perfectly. I am also a huge fan of turmeric, and the turmeric presented in the emulsion was subtle but wonderfully tasty. The color combinations really made it visually appealing and interesting. This plat was a big hit!

I had the "Poitrine de cochon confite du cantal artichaut / jus facon teriyaki" (Pork belly confit artichoke Cantal / juice teriyaki way). A lot of my friends know, one of my favorite comfort foods is pork belly, braised, fried, boiled, you name it, I love it. But if it's done wrong, then it's another story. I absolutely fell in love with this dish. The crispiness of the skin with the moist meaty interior with the teriyaki sauce caramelizing the meat was heaven.  Since I just fell in love with it  I forgot to mention the baby artichokes. They were a good side dish, but the star was definitely the pork.

Lastly our friend had the Plat du jour which was the "Beef cheeks in their consommé Thai". Although this dish was very, very tasty and good, after tasting all the wonderful flavors of the entrées, pork, and risotto, I found this my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, it was good, well constructed, and delicious, but it reminded me alot of typical stews that I could easily make at home, or any Asian household.  The kumquat topping was a very clever and delicious addition.


Comme d'hab, I had the cheese plate. It was two types of chevre served with a sweet spice and mango preserves and a dusting of "sable sweet crust" As I always say, you can't go wrong with cheeses in France, so I was a happy camper.

One person had the "Eton Mess fruits rouges / Zestes d'agrumes" (Eton Mess red fruit / citrus zests)  the Chef's interpretation of the traditional British dessert, "Eton Mess".  The dessert was very good, but nothing out of the ordinary. It was meringue topped with strawberries and raspberries.

Lastly our friend had the "Panna cotta basilic Thaï ananas rôtis/ sorbet mangue" (Panna cotta Thai basil roasted pineapple / mango sorbet). This was a wonderfully constructed and presented dessert. It was covered in a thin sheet of sugar waver that needed to be cracked, to get your reward. It was a bit humorous, cause I kept thinking of "creme brûlée", it was whimsical French take.

I loved this dessert. It was creamy, the basil was not overwhelming, the pineapples and mango was such a wonderful refreshing accompaniment


All I have to say is WOW! What a great find. The food is excellent, the service unbeatable. Everything was composed and presented with style without going overboard with pretensions. Although there are alot of Asian influences in the dishes, they aren't overwhelming. The Chef used his knowledge of Asian products and interpreted them into his dishes with his French cooking sensibilities.  All in all, CHAPEAU BAS (Hats Off). So, you can rest assured we will go back.

With a bottle of "Chateau de la Liquière", 3-glasses of white wine, 1-extra glass of red and coffee our bill came to 171€ for 3 people, not cheap by any means; however, worth every centime. You can lower your costs by ordering the pre-fix.  

Go quick before word gets out and you'll be unable to get seats!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cantine California -- Restaurant Review

46 Rue Turbigo
Phone: 09 81-15-53-13
Metro: Arts et Métier
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) Note: Does not include beverages

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+)

  3.5 - stars...............................................................€........................................................... 1 - Bell

This restaurant has been open for just a little over a week. They are the same owners who opened up the "Cantine California" food truck  , and along with "Le Camion qui Fume"  with great success and started the whole food truck movement in Paris. Hats off to both of them.

My best friend has already gone a couple of times, and each time has given input to the staff, after all he is from Southern California, and they know a thing or two about Mexican food.  There's a couple of things he shared with me about this restaurant, and in my own review with you that I wanted to share.

First of all, spicy food is not appreciated or even much liked for the average French palate. Their philosophy being, why add spice to mask the flavor of the food?  My argument back has always been, why mask good food with lots of sauce or creme? My point is, given the right amount of spice or sauce, it can enhance and bring out of the flavors of food, n'est-ce pas?

I went with a friend who also owns a Mexican restaurant in the 8eme. He always likes to test other restaurants similar to his. I have yet to find a really good taco bar or restaurant that serves tacos as we know them in California. The restaurant is very new, very modern with clean lines and not kitschy or excessive. The bar and kitchen are open, so you can actually see the activity around you. It's a nice and airy open restaurant.

We perused the menu. They have a very simple menu of burgers and tacos. Being that we came here specifically for the tacos, we decided to get all 3: fish, carnitas, and chicken.  When I think of tacos I assume they will be wrapped in corn tortillas, not so in France. Corn is considered animal food and the French palate does not like corn tortillas for the taste nor the texture. So, my best friend told me ahead of time to specifically ask for corn tortillas.

We started out with their margaritas. I like them salted. Although the margaritas were very good, I found them to be too tart. But that's a personal preference, because my best friend, who always likes to test margaritas, said they were excellent at 6€ a glass. They were the best he's had in Paris for the price point.

As for the tacos, my favorite were the fish tacos. The one flaw I found, I don't believe the tortillas were heated e.g., steamed, and it tasted like they came right out of the package because they kept ripping. The fish tacos were nice and crispy with a moist interior and topped with their creamy coleslaw, made it a hit.  Note, my best friend gave them input a week earlier stating that the coleslaw could've been creamier, so they were. The carnitas were good, but my friend thought they might've been a little too sweet. And, the chicken was not very exciting.

We liked the fish tacos so much, we ordered two more.  Unfortunately, we forgot to mention we wanted them with corn tortillas and they came with flour tortillas. You can definitely taste the difference. Just remember you must repeat that you want corn tortillas.  The only other thing I missed was hot salsa for the tacos, instead we got "Valentino" a bottled hot sauce, which was good, but it would've been really nice with salsa. According to my best friend, they did have a tomato salsa when he was there, so I have to assume they ran out.

Overall, I thought the restaurant was definitely above average. Prices were excellent. I have yet to try their hamburgers and will do so on our next visit, because I plan on going again. The staff are incredibly nice. I complimented one wait staff that her English was excellent, she said she was from NYC, just like the "Pace Picante" commercial, boy was I embarrassed. Then I met one one of the kitchen workers and he's from SF and not too far from our home there. The manager and co-owner, Michael lived in Atlanta for 5-years.

They are off to a good start. They have a couple of kinks to iron out, but this is going to be a hit. They're very receptive to feedback, so share your thoughts.  My only fear is that they might "Frenchify" as many have done so before them. So, I encourage you to go before it gets too popular; I know it will be a big hit and success!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Le Verre Moutarde -- Restaurant review

145 Rue de Saussure, 17eme
Tel: 01-42-27-35-55
Open: Monday-Friday
Web: www.leverremoutarde.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) Note: Does not include beverages

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+)

  3.5 - stars...............................................................€€*........................................................... 3 - Bell

*Note: Ordering from their regular menu is expensive, and would rate it a €€

I had never been to this restaurant before, but had heard about it from my dear friend. So off we trotted to the 17eme, which is quite a schlep from where we live in the left bank, but I'm always willing to travel far and beyond for any new adventure.  This restaurant has become so popular of late that they actually have to turn people away. 

Once you enter you'll notice it's an extremely whimsical restaurant. There are collections of "cartoon" character glasses, paintings done in a cartoon motif, and your name written on the table letting you know the table is reserved for you, and you only. 

They have a lunch special which is extremely reasonable. You got an entrée, plat and dessert for 14.90€. The lunch special changes daily.

In fact, as we entered the restaurant, they immediately asked if we wanted a glass of their house wine, which of course we did. I had the rosé, and the 3-others had a burgundy.

For whatever reason, we did not order from the pre-fixe lunch menu. We chose from their regular menu which was quite extensive. The menu came 2-sided with an English version as well as in French. Interestingly we were the only English speakers in the tiny restaurant.


Three of us had the "marrow and snails on an open sandwich, malabar pepper". It's beautifully presented. It's more like a large crostini. It was beautifully topped with the snails and rounds of bone marrow. Being that I'm not French, I picked it up with my hands and ate it like a pizza, but realized, doing so, the topping fell off. So I later succumbed and used a fork and knife.  The escargot, true to its nature was wonderfully garlicky and the bone marrow, also true to its nature was extremely rich and fatty. I found that adding a dab of mustard, which this restaurant is named after, cut the fat down and added an extra dimension and flavor profile. I loved the dish. 

One person had the "caviar of eggplant with cilantro".  It tasted like a "baba ghanoush", but not as thick. It was surrounded by a mild light pureed tomato, topped with spaghetti of turnips.  The dish was nice, simple as well as refreshing. 


Two of us had the "braised veal rib, mushroom waffles with reduced gravy".  It was a nice sized piece of veal. I was actually quite surprised, that they didn't ask us how we wanted our veal cooked, so when it arrived it was actually cooked well done. For me it's OK, I would rather err on the well done side then the raw side, since my stomach cannot handle raw meat. I found the texture of the meat great, but I did find the sauce a tad, tad too salty. It was topped with some spaghetti daikon.The waffle, surprisingly stayed crisp and crunchy, just the way I like it, but I really did not taste the mushroom.  None-the-less, the waffles were delicious. A good dish with some minor flaws!

One person had the "vegetarian plate". I was surprised they had a vegetarian dish, this is not typical for Paris. With that said, I was expecting to see a salad. However, it was a warm platter of vegetables, with mostly asparagus and some of the au jus. The dish was composed very nicely, and was also served with mushroom waffles.  They were blanched vegetables not al-dente, but just a little beyond that. They were good and simple, but nothing out of the ordinary. 

Lastly, one person had the "roasted tuna filet with white asparagus with a virgin sauce", Another wonderful presentation. For me the tuna was cooked perfectly. it was well cooked on the outside and rare in the middle. It was very moist. What turned out to be "virgin" sauce was actually vinegar. The vinegar was tart, but I happen to like tart flavors with seafood. For me this was a good dish. 


I opted not to have dessert, nor cheese, but two had a taste of the home-made "nougat ice cream caramel".  I have to say it was delicious. Very "ying-yang", you had the smoothest of the ice cream, which I was very light and creamy, and the crunchiness of the nougats. It also came accompanied with a caramel wafer, which was nice and crispy. This dish was a hit. 

One person had the "creme brulée with pink pralines". I love desserts, but I have to say this was my least favorite. First of all, the brulée was more creamy in texture and more like a mouse than an egg custard. And, I found the pink pralines a turn off. The color was not natural, nor was it visually appealing. It tasted like pure sugar.  So, of all the dishes we had today, this was my least favorite. 


Overall, I have to say that this restaurant was definitely above average. The service is excellent, decor is quirky, but fun. It's a small restaurant, maybe it can accommodate 20-25 people at most, but when it fills up, it gets extremely noisy.  

 Their dishes were all over the board. Some were excellent, some average, and some were misses. They did have some minor flaws in the veal dish, but the creme brulée was really off-putting for me.  For 4 of us the bill came to almost 220€, I suppose if we just ordered the pre-fixe it would not have been as pricey. We did however, have wines before our lunch, a bottle of Arjolle, a 48CL of their house rosé, and a bottle of their house burgundy and 3-coffees.  Surprisingly, we were offered free degustif of armagnac and plum brandy. Would I come back, "porquoi pas" (why not).

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Postiche -- Restaurant Review

64 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau
75001 Paris, France
01 42 36 14 90
Metro: Les Halles
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) Note: Does not include beverages

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+)

  3 - stars................................................................€................................................................. 2 - Bell

There's a whole other place in the 1er arrondissement that I haven't really explored. A friend invited us for a lunch, and I was excited about going since it's a few doors down from one of my favorite wine bars "O-Chateau".  It's a relatively small restaurant, but they do have sitting upstairs. My guess is that they could easily accommodate 30 people. 

They have a special lunch menu for 15€ for an entrée + plat or a plat + dessert. These were all very, very reasonable prices, and they didn't have an extensive selection, but as most know, I prefer a small menu done right, then lots of items done poorly. 


Two us got the "Salad au lard, oeuf poache et noix" (Salad with bacon, poached eggs and nuts).  The salad was good. The eggs perfectly poached and the bacon was nice and crispy like I like it!  As salads go, this was a very good salad, but nothing out of the ordinary. 

One person got the "Velouté de potiron" (Cream of pumpkin soup), I'm not a big fan of pumpkin soup, so I deferred to our companion.  He stated it was good, but a bit too thick and because pumpkin really doesn't have much flavor, he said it could've used more spices, but overall he thought it was a good dish!


Three of us had the "Filet de haddock poché, lait de coco aux agrumes" (Poached haddock fillet, coconut milk with citrus).  The haddock was "dried and salted" which is a normal way to preserve haddock. So, it was re-constituted. At first bite I thought, wow this is salty; however, mixing it with the accompanying mashed potatoes, vegetables and scooping it up the sauce with a hint of coconut flavoring and citrus, it was quite tasty and enjoyable. So, overall, this was also a good dish, but nothing extraordinary. 

One friend had the "Saumon gravlax, creme aux herbes fraiche" (Gravlax salmon, creme fraiche with herbs).  It was a simple, good dish and it was served with a nice salad of different greens! It was good.


As usual, I got the cheese plate. This was one of my favorite cheeses "Saint Marcellin". Normally the cheese is served at room temperature, so that it sort of melts in your mouth. Unfortunately, the cheese was served a little too cold for my liking, but I still loved the cheese.

Two had the "Soupe de clémentines à l'anis" (Clementine soup with anise).  Slices of clementines with an accompanying broth of anise. They thought the flavors combined well and both loved this dessert!


This is a good place to go for lunch. The food is by no means extraordinary, but what they do serve is done very well. And, for the price you can't beat it. With 2-bottles of  "Ventous", 2-glasses of sauvignon blanc, 2-coffees and a brandy, our bill came to 77€ per couple or 38.50€ per person!

Would I go back, sure, porquoi pas? It's good food for a reasonable price.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Le Colimaçon -- Restaurant Review

44 Rue Vielle du Temple
Tel: 06-27-18-08-07
Web: www.le-colimacon.fr
Metro: Line 1 Hôtel de Ville

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+)

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

I have to be honest, I normally do not like eating in "Le Marais" (3eme & 4eme), since I find it geared towards the tourist and oftentimes the food is pre-made and not good.  But in celebration of our friend's return to Paris, I searched for a restaurant in the Marais since it was a Sunday and a fun day just to window shop. This area is the only shopping area open in Paris on a Sunday.  I came across this restaurant and the menu looked good so I made reservations through "La Fourchette" .  

The restaurant is small, although there are also seats upstairs.  Originally we were given a table by the stairs, so I asked if we could transfer by the window and they accommodated us. There is a huge black-board with the menu listed. It was quite extensive.

First order of the day were apéros. They had these house apéros made with a specially fermented white wine and mint. It looked like "mojitos", but we were pleasantly surprised how refreshing they were and not overly sweet as most mojitos are in Paris. So, this was a good start.

As we were perusing the wine, the waiter took his time to describe wine we were interested in.  In fact, he asked what range we would like to pay, and even had us taste different wines and gave us a quick lessons on the nuances of the different wines.  We got the sancerre blanc at 35€. Our wait person also spent alot of time describing the menu to us, and gave us his recommendations.


Two of us ordered an entrée.  I ordered the "Morilles a la crème" (Morel mushrooms in cream).  It was served in a small cooper pot.   This was a very, very tasty first course.  Our waiter told us that the morels were sourced locally. They were covered with a lot of cream. Although extremely tasty with all the cream, I found it a tad too rich for my taste, but I did enjoy it none-the-less. Not recommended for those who are lactose-intolerant.

One ordered the "Tartare Imperial de Mers et son duo d’argumes" (tartare of fish served with two types of citrus).  This was a beautifully presented dish. It was also quite delicious, very fresh and had the perfect balance of the fattiness of the salmon and the citrus. It was a hit and I can see it being a summer staple. 


I ordered the "Cuisse de lapin farcie aux pleurottes foie gras, lard" (Rabbit leg stuffed with foie gras oyster mushrooms, bacon).  I found this interesting as I don't normally like to eat rabbit because I find them very "boney", and usually masked with lots of cream. This intrigued me because it was roasted and boneless.  The stuffed legs were delicious and quite tender. The oyster mushrooms with the bacon brought it to a whole new level. And, it wasn't full of cream, the sauce was light and delicious. The salad had a nice citrus touch to cut down on some of the fattiness. The accompanied mashed potatoes were nothing special, but overall the rabbit was delicious and I certainly would order it again.

Our friend ordered the "Filet de boeuf façon Rossini" (Fillet of beef Rossini).  He ordered it "à point", medium rare. It was topped with a few bits of foie gras and the dish was absolutely delicious.  It was accompanied by a pan roasted scalloped potatoes with almonds that were absolutely delicious. It was crispy on the exterior and tender sweet on the inside.  Overall, this whole dish with the potato dish was very good. 

Lastly our friend ordered the "Filet de Bar et sauce aux deux agrumes" (Sea bass with two citrus sauces).  This was actually the simplest of the 3-dishes we ordered. The fish was very moist and the citrus sauce was very mild. The accompanying carrots with haricot vert was extremely sweet and tasty. Another winner.

We opted not to have dessert since we were all so full. We did, however, order some coffee.


Although it's in a very busy tourist area in the Marais, what a great find. I was prepared to dislike the food, since I've never had a good dining experience until now in that area and go there primarily for salads, felafel or pizzas.  The service is beyond excellent. They like speaking English, especially our wait person who wanted to practice, which was fine with us.  He took time to describe the dishes as well as the different wine options.

I would highly recommend this restaurant. We gave the food an overall 4, but with the outstanding service we gave it an additional 0.5, one of my highest ratings. For 3 people, a bottle of wine and coffees, our bill came to 47€ per person!