Ze Kitchen Galerie lunch report
Thanks to John Talbott's blog, I decided to reserve a lunch at ZKG for today. Also, they were pretty good about responding to my reservation through emails; some places don't take them at all or just ignore email requests (understandably).
Upon entry, the employees were polite and offered to check coats and then promptly shown to our table. I don't know if they just wanted to keep les touristes out of the way or if it was one of the better tables, but they put us at the corner table right next to the kitchen window. Great for me. I like watching the kitchen. Everything is clean; surfaces always wiped. Lots of young cooks in the kitchen, manning the garde manger station and apprentices/commis. Fish and saute station were manned by Japanese guys. Couple of young women also in the kitchen.
Les formules dejeuner are quite reasonably priced, although there are quite a few dishes which require supplements. 34/39 euro for 2/3 courses. Bottled water and coffee/tea included (!!!). For those with more time, the menu decouverte is 68E.
Service is polite, although if one wants to be more joking/casual, they seem willing to chat. My French is not that good, so it stayed at the polite level for us. Not stuffy.
Food has some Asian touches. Most noticeably, they seem to fall in love with the Cantonese-Chinese flavor combination of green onions and ginger as part of their sauce/garnish. My Cantonese mom recognized it immediately (as did I) and made the "foreign" French food easier for her to like.
My mom's entree was some long tube pasta (sorry forget the French for it) with artichoke heart, and a pesto-like and parmesan cheese cream sauce. Sounds heavy and salty, but it maintained a lightness to it. My mom is super critical of heavy and salty foods, but she ate it up. Their source for baguettes is quite good, and was a good tool to sop up extra sauce. My entree was "marinated" octopus with a beet-vinaigrette sauce with ginger and assorted greens and asparagus. Since I had a view of the kitchen, it looks like they poach the octopus (not sure if in a court bouillon or just water with fennel stalks). In any case, it came out quite good: not chewy from over cooking. Sauce had a good touch of acidity and touch of ginger.
For les plats principaux, my mom had the grilled sole. Cooked just perfectly: juicy, firm. My mom is quite picky with overcooked fish. Accompanied with some white asparagus, broccoli, and green onion and grated ginger. I had the pigeon confit, beets, beet sauce, green onion-ginger, and foie. Another good dish. I cleaned up all the sauce, and the foie was a generous portion and actually worked with the ginger-onion flavors.
Desserts, were a bit less memorable, but they were executed well. Not too sweet, which is always good.
Total with 2 glasses of wine, two supplements (10E) was 106E. All things considered a pretty good price. At other restaurants, water plus coffee would add at least 5-7E each. Dinner prices jump to 80E for their menu decouverte, and 21-23E for entrees, 33-36E for plats. It deserves its one star and the accolades in blogs and guidebooks.
For those interested, photos are here:
Nope. I didn't want to post yet another "where to eat in paris" type thread.
The other restaurants where I ate were more casual except dinner once at Le 122 on rue Grenelle, but it wasn't that great. Understaffed, forgetful service. The croustillant pieds de cochon were pretty good though. For dimsum fans, it reminded me of "wu tau gok" (deep fried taro root dumplings). In fact a vegetarian version probably could be made with small cubed taro versus pigs feet/chunks.