Le Pantruche in Paris: Firing on all cylinders
We didn’t have a reservation, but managed to snag the only 2 available bar stools for lunch last Friday. The location near Pigalle was perfect, as the wife needed a kitchen item from a nearby store where she bought from 2 months ago. A small bistro, in addition to our 2 bar stools, I estimate 12 – 15 two-seat tables. 2 very efficient and smilingly courteous wait staff manned the place with the chef and 2 sous-chefs doing the kitchen deeds as we saw from our vantage point. Once in a while, the chef comes out to answer the ringing phone at the bar to write down reservation requests … he makes sure to give us a quick smile whenever he does so.
A good small wine list, including a few natural/organic ones that I have preferred lately. As per my normal lunch experiences in bistros in France, I order wines by the glass and more often than not, rely on suggestions by our wait staff and, as a result, I neglect to note down what I drank.
For our entrees, I opted for the truly excellent Huitres en Tartare which was surrounded by a dense soup-like liquid that was silky to the mouth-feel and very pleasing to the taste buds. She had the Crème et chips with Chantilly truffle, another thick soup-like dish that was just, imho, very slightly upstaged by the Huitres en tartare. At this point, we were so very glad that we noticed and motioned to our welcoming waiter about taking the bar stools, as everyone else who walked in without reservations were politely turned away.
Next up were the plats. I don’t recall ever ordering sweet bread as my main course, but I usually like the dish as an appetizer and decided to go for the Ris de veau braises that was offered. This was easily the best version that I’ve had, and I took my time savoring trying to capture every bit of flavor in the dish. It came on a bed of sweet-tasting baby carrots plus stalks and on a wine or some liquor-reduced sauce. An excellent dish. Our other main dish was the pave de cobillaud with chopped up vegetables highlighted by one of our less-preferred green, the Brussels sprouts. If we can only replicate how they did this dish, Brussels sprouts would then be up high in our preferred food chain.
The crowning glory, which was actually hard to pick, was the deliciously smooth Souffle au Grand-Marnier which we shared for dessert. My wife had noted that this version, unlike most that I’ve had in the States, did not taste overly eggy and that the alcohol was not at all intrusive to the dish.
Throughout our meal, even with just the 2-man team doing maitre’d, sommelier, wait staff, busboy, phone reservationist, and coat-hanging jobs, they managed to come by at the right moments to cooly, and without being over-bearing, ask if we like what we’re eating and drinking.
This is now on our must-do list in our next trip. A wonderful food and service experience.