Reporting back from Paris (and banlieue) eating.... Agapé Substance, Racines, Paul Bert...
I decided to spend a week-end in Paris (banlieue) to sister.
- Racines (passage des panorama) : I came in a bit early (just off the airport bus) and was lucky to get a small table near the kitchen; still groggy from the flight but hungry, I decided to go fishy.
First course was a cold feuilleté de tourteau (crab), good, nice, crisp and fresh (forgot the details!).
Second course was a pan fried Colin (hake?) on a bed of winter vegetables (turnips, carrots, beets, ... ), fish was awesomly cooked and it paired well with the vegetables. No coffee or dessert but a (big) plate of Comté cheese to finish up the savourous Sancerre (forgot the details).
I will go back.
- Agapé Substance (rue mazarine, 6th) : I decided on that restaurant because I wanted to invite my sister (who lives in Paris) to a restaurant that is not a bistrot/brasserie; and boy, did we get something different!!
A _really_ small restaurant, decor is minimalist, white, beige, a counter large enough for 16 "couverts", 2 2-tops and 1 2-tops in the kitchen; all tables/counter are high, so we are seated on stools (not the best seating IMO, maybe the only down point of the lunch).
The kitchen is open and just in the axis of the counter, so we can see both the line cooks and the chef David Toutain finishing each plate as they go out.
We opted for the larger of the two "menus" with the wine pairing; after discussion later with my sister, we thought that the menu without the pairing does not make sense (for example, buy 1, 2 bottles for the whole meal that might not match plates or ingredients)
I assume the menu changes quite frequently since it is based on ingredients instead of a dish, so you don't know exactly what you will have and in what fashion; each plate is one, two, three bites with the focus on the main ingredient .
The wine pairing was spot on with some really nice surprises, one serving was in black opaque glasses, and we had such a hard time figuring out what it was, and it ended up to be sake!!! another wine that was served was a Gewurztraminer from the Loire region (yes, NOT from Alsace), completely different from what I was expecting from that kind of grape (I'm waiting for the name of the wine, I asked them).
The wine progression was so smooth that when it was time for red wine, it did not break at all the flow, it just was spot-on.
A fun point is that the sommelier only revealed the wines after we had it so we could
small ginger sablé and a algae sponge cake.
Cardamine (bittercress) "powder" with a seafood/fish broth
Tourteau (crab) and cucumber salad
Topinambour with candied chestnuts (very, very good)
Soft egg with corn mousse (very good)
Asparagus soup with a parmesan foam (very good)
Grilled aparagus with olive(?) and small quail eff in meurette (red wine poached)
Carrots with galangal purée
St-Jacques (scallops) (I forget what it was).
Lieu (pollock) (or hake?) with an orange sauce (very good fish)
Mushrooms with some kind of brittle something (looked like nougat, but savoury) (surprising and very good)
Pigeon with beets (and a beet tile) (very good)
Dehydrated pear (with a sorbet of something) (ok, I'm not a dessert person)
Chocolate cake (ok)
Even with that amount of food and wine, we left happy and not stuffed at all, just perfect.
I think that one must be ready to take a leap of "faith" and accept whatever comes because that formula does not accept error from the chef because each ingredient is so precisely prepared and focused that the source product must be perfect, (no room for error).
Service was attentive and spotless, wine service and explanation was, according to my sister, what made the whole meal better than just the sum of all the plates.
I might go back at dinner to see if the vibe is different.
Bistrot Paul Bert (Rue Paul Bert, 11th): lunch on saturday, that was unplanned, I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on rue Paul Bert; and luckily, I was able to get a table (no reservation) :-)
first course : barely cooked maquereaux (mackerel) with a "oyster" vinaigrette (_very_ good !! )
second course : a big huge Andouillette with some gratin dauphinois, very good and satisfying since it was not a very nice day (compared to friday and thursday)
All that was eaten with very good wines and good service!
L'Ardoise (boul. de la liberté, Le Perreux-sur-Marne): A small south-west/basque food bistrot. We all decided to go with charcuteries and foie gras; they have 2, 3 different "types" of plates with some differences in cheese or accompagnements of the charcuteries; the foie gras terrine is prepared/cooked with some piment d'espelette, enough to give it taste, but not too much heat.
Ordinary wine selection.
Not really worth the RER trip to the 'burbs, but if you are in the area, why not.
Le Petit Vendome (Rue Capucines, 2nd), I only stopped for coffee and tartines au beurre before catching my bus back to the airport, but I want to go back for lunch. I felt the vibe to be very good, even at 9 in the morning, with fresh bread and good unsalted butter and a nice café-crème.
I also decide to cook for my sister on sunday evening; it's always fun to go to a market in a different city for real shopping, look at the different stalls, decide which fish monger or charcuterie has the best product.
I made a oven roasted cod with some lardons with a green salad on the side; just perfect. (sometimes I rock when I cook).
That's it for my little escapade in Paris...
pix : https://picasaweb.google.com/11644431...