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Paris Review - Spring and Le Comptoir

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Just finished a lovely long weekend in Paris. Thanks for the help from the French hounds and letting me stalk the board.

Dinner at Spring
We had our hotel call and make reservations there for Saturday evening. We didn't realize that on Saturday evenings, he doesn't do the prix fixe menu but for August was actually doing lobster rolls which he was serving from lunch to whenever the end of the day was. After talking to him, 7:30pm was pretty close to the last sitting of the day. Not a problem, as long as the food is good am not really concerned about what he's serving.
The starter was marinated chunks of tomato, eggplant/aubergine, tuna with some thinly sliced veal. It was really light and flavourful and fresh tasting served with slivers of toasted seaweed and roasted buckwheat. I could have just eaten that plate all day and been quite happy. The lobster roll was the main attraction for the evening. Served on whole wheat baguette, it was lightly dressed with fresh basil and celery. Very different from lobster rolls on the east coast of the USA where the bun is generally sweeter and the lobster is tossed with a creamy/mayo type dressing. I admit that I love the style of the lobster roll at Spring but found the basil a bit strong to be paired with lobster. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. The side dish of frites was perfection. Fried to perfection, nice and crispy on the outside and cooked on the outside. For the size of the cut, it was perfect, the second best batch of fries I've eaten (behind the match stick fries at the Spotted Pig in NYC, only because I can keep eating those and not notice the entire plate is gone). For dessert, we split a "lemon pie" dessert that was really delicious. A nice light lemon curd speckled with vanilla beans, topped with a layer of crunchy praline, then topped with freshly whipped cream and sprinkled with ground pistachios and more crushed praline, served in a cup. Wow, the different textures and flavours were outstanding for me, I love lemon desserts and this one really was amazing. Not super sweet at all which really works for me as really sugary things make my teeth hurt these days.
An excellent meal overall, but not inexpensive. We had a more expensive bottle of wine which I really enjoyed with my meal. The meal part with water ended up being 90Euro for 1 starter, 1 dessert and 2 mains and bottle of water.

Dinner at Le Comptoir
As it was a weekend, they were serving bistro style as opposed to doing the prix fixe menu. In many ways, it's almost too much choice but somehow, managed to get through it. If you stay at the hotel, you get preferential seating even though they don't take reservations on the weekend. Started with the sardines which were presented in the oil they were cured in. I love sardines and I loved these. Way less fishy than tins of sardines and they were nice and plump. 4 of these little bites of heaven on the plate. Although I was confused as they were served with a slice of butter on top. I did notice that many items that were meant to be eaten with bread ended up with a slice of butter on the side. Fascinating although I admit to not being a huge butter person. The bf had the special for the day, a grilled steak with seasonal vegetables. I can't vouch for the cut as my French is basic but if I remember correctly, it was pave de boeuf planche. Anyone help with the translation? He asked for it medium and it came out more medium rare which is the way I love it so all the more for me. He didn't mind and said it was delicious. I agree with him, it was really delicious but I did notice that the cut was a bit leaner than my usual choice of ribeye or strip. But nevertheless, the flavour was definitely beefy although not quite the umami-ness of a dry aged steak. I ordered beef as well but can't remember what it was exactly. But was thinking as I ate it, it was cut like a steak but had been braised or roasted first to tenderness then finished off. It had a perfect run of tendon down the middle of it that was delicious (I love ordering tendon in my pho) and tender. Which is why I thought the beef had been braised first. It shredded apart like a perfectly done pot roast or stewed beef. It was delicious and was served with broccoli and sliced almonds on top. Dessert was the assortment of cheeses for myself the the apple tart for the bf. A chevre, compte, and 2 others I didn't catch the names of. But were camembert like in texture but a wee bit smellier and a fairly strong piece of blue cheese. The apple tart was perfection for me. Very finely sliced apples on top of a thin pastry crust served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream in the middle. The perfect way to end a meal. All washed down with a rather large carafe of the house red wine which was easy to drink and exceedingly inexpensive. Total for the meal was approximately 90Euro.

We also stopped in en route to the train station for an early lunch on Monday afternoon. This time, tried the planche de cochillon (sp?). Basically the assorted cold cut platter which came with boudin noir (blood sausage), a salami, a pate and 2 other unidentified bits, one mortadella like cut and another like cracklings. I'm not fussy on names, sorry, I just love to eat. So yes, this was a really great light meal, served with dijon mustard, cornichons, pickled pearl onion and more of the amazing crusty bread. Finished the meal off by sharing the coffee flavoured creme brulee. Again, really amazing dessert. When they brought it up the stairs from the kitchen below, you could still see the flames on top of the brulee dancing away. it was not burnt but really nicely carmelized and rich and custard like (as opposed to too much gelatin in many cases).

Miscellany
We did stop at a stand and got some Berthillon ice cream. Sea salt caramel and a passionfruit. The flavours are very intense with the caramel being very rich and buttery feeling. The passionfruit was very tart and acidic and you definitely knew you were having fresh passionfruit. For both of us, not a big thing.
Also made a stop in the Pierre Herme branch located in the basement of Galleries Lafayette. Pretty much the same flavours, sea salt caramel and passionfruit/chocolate. It had a nice chew to them and the exterior was a bit crisp but for me, not quite crisp enough. We both found them rather sweet so not huge fans. We did walk past Laduree as well but didn't stop as I had read reviews here that they were even sweeter.
Gerard Mulot was around the corner from the hotel so had to stop in. Sunday morning croissant was blissful. Warm, flaky, shattering exterior and tender pull apart interior. I so miss the perfect croissant. Go early as we went around noon the next day and they weren't nearly as good. Also tried the pain au chocolate, canelle, brioche with chocolate chips and a financier. The canelle was interesting. I liked the shape but couldn't get past the really baked exterior combined with the very tender almost unbaked interior. The financier was my favourite of "new" things for me, looking like a very teeny banana bread loaf shaped but with a nice crumb and nice light flavour. Looking at the pastry windows was definitely a highlight, seeing all those beautiful creations. Could spend hours drooling over the windows.

All in all, a really fantastic trip with some hits and some misses. Can't wait to visit again, hopefully in the near future.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your report. I haven't been to Spring. But, I have been to Le Comptoir; and, your report makes me want to book tickets. Maybe May 2011...it's a thought.

    1. So refereshing to read a detailed wonderful report like yours instead of the many hypnotically recurrent posts with hypnotically recurrent FAQs.

      1. Thanks very much. I enjoy writing them too to share with others (it's like reliving the meal). Plus it's just a small way to repay all the fellow Hounds out there for providing their recaps and giving me help in making my dining choices.