Le Gaigne or Les Côtelettes for a dinner with friends?
After reading thread after thread with posts by both fans and detractors of these two Marais places, I'm not sure where to turn. Anyone who's eaten at both willing to weigh in on which you prefer and why?
Le Gaigne - A little gem, barely found, but for how long?
5.5 Le Gaigne, 12, rue Pecquay in the 4th, 01.44.59.86.72, closed Tuesday – thus open Saturday, Sunday on Mondays, hooray! Let me start with the young chef – Mickael Gaignon – who’s passed through the shops of the Pre Catalan, Gagnaire and Gaya; he may be young but he’s got it. And his wife Aurelie is terrific in the front room.
When I entered (coming off this dingy street in nowheresville to find tables decorated with young live herbs) and realized it was just the two of them (plus a kitchen aide/plongeur) for 20 covers, I worried that they could never get the food out promptly, but they did, meanwhile turning away people who drifted by and saw the reviews by E Rubin et al in the window.
I was also worried about the “brunch on Sunday” note in Figaroscope, but the chef insisted that they served the full weekly menu too. And they did with no cancellations or substitutions.
For this tiny and new a place, they served an amuse-bouche - of real vichyssoise – I haven’t had it so good in years. Then I had terrific small cromesquis morsels of morue, thankfully not called brandade, that were crisp outside and melting inside, with forceful watercress sprigs and puree.
The bread is worth commenting on, not crusty, but dense with a moist wheaty flavor, quite, quite good. My main was/were a divine farm chicken served two ways; a sliced breast with a delicious herb/cream sauce and rollatine bits atop young green stuffed cabbage.
I had no dessert but a terrific Molongo coffee with fine marshmallow.
Coda: there’s a funky pink light in the bathroom and a funky tin milk pail instead of a wash basin (someone has a good sense of humor.)
The bill = 42 € with two glasses of wine – but other days, the menus are 16 and 22 and wines begin at 14 €.
Go? Yes, this guy knows what he’s doing. He’ll be moving into bigger space eventually for sure, with higher prices, so go soon.
Les Cotelettes - OK; they’re trying.
4.5 Les Cotelettes, 4, impasse Guemenee in the 4th, 01.42.72.08.45, closed Saturday lunch, Sundays and Mondays, serves a 15 € lunch formula (a la carte is 35-50 €). It’s a place recently taken over by the Benard group (Les Zingots + Que du Bon) and while I’ve had off and on experiences with them, I had heard good things from the RFC, so one chilly April day* I went.
The joint was jumping, all French despite its location in tourist heaven, Marais-division, and it had an ultra modern kitchen with two young chefs working like the dickens but never hurrying. I started with what was described as crunchy queue de boeuf – it was a bit too fatty for me although it was offset somewhat by the dressing on the accompanying salad.
Then I had an absolutely perfect large piece of veal liver, maybe not Chez Les Anges circa 1970 quality, but not far from it, with fine accompanying vegetables.
With wine and coffee but no dessert my bill was 53.50 € (I declined the “menu” because the oeufs mayo, veggie soup, potato and sausage starters; fish cassolette and sausage mains; and rice pudding and faisselle didn’t turn me on).
Go? I’m not sure; maybe it needs more seasoning.
*My last meal was April 15th, fully paid for.
re: John Talbott
Like Dr. T. I have been to both and also liked them both. Gaigne is more "bistronomic" what ever that means while Les Cotelettes is vintage old style bistro with bent cane chairs, tomette floors, exposed beams and stone walls , the type of busy place where I love to order things like Morteau and potatoes, duckling with grapes, sautéed pork. Le Gaigne has more inventive cooking and decor, such as the tin bucket wash pail described by JT and dishes such as morille risotto, canard en deux servis and the best and prettiest vegetable appetiser, simply called "Les Legumes", that I have had since the famed Gargaillou of Michel Bras.
Thank you both for your very informative replies! You've helped me make up my mind, I think...
I'm leaning more toward Le Gaigne as my friends visiting from Canada as well as myself and my husband enjoy inventive takes on classic dishes. A few tongue-in-cheek references usually go over well at the table of our little foursome. I've e-mailed asking to reserve for Wednesday evening, but as they don't reopen until that day, I won't get a confirmation until the last minute, so I thought I'd better have a back-up. Hence reservations at Les Côtelettes. I chose it based on a few recommendations, as well as location (a stone's throw from their hotel, so easy to roll back to their lodgings after too much of the good stuff), but am a little concerned as my visiting friend warned me that she was rather disenchanted oh late with French bistrot fare. Hopefully I've chosen well...
Les Cotelettes is in a place that used to be a favorite of Simenon and there were plaques above his and other notables' tables. The plaques vanished a while ago and in the latest reincarnation (two years ago?) some of the old wooden dividers were taken down; but, as Laidback writes, decor is still nicely vintage old style bistro. I find the food competent but not wonderful.
"closed Tuesday – thus open Saturday, Sunday on Mondays," me
"I was going to make a reservation at Le Gaigne for a Sunday or Monday, but the website says the restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays -- the days have changed perhaps?" Earlydrive
Yup - I finally had the opportunity to walk by leaving my terrific barber and read the sign in the window and it indeed says "Closed Sundays and Mondays." And, being Monday even I could see it was closed.