Paris Notes from Feb. 2012
First, Houndies, an apology… I’m usually faster on the notes turnaround but (thank you New York State) in the 5 months since our trip to France we got married, Bman started a new job, and we moved. It has taken until now to report back. Mea Culpa.
ROTISSERIE Du BEAUJOLAIS. 19 Quai de la Tournelles, in the 5th. It being a Sunday, our flat just across the Pont, and having not reserved anywhere else we decided we’d head for this easy and usually lively spot. We started with a Kir and a Pastis, and I enjoyed an Oeufs en Meurette. We had the Poulet Roti for 2 with frites, and a bottle of Julienas (25€). The poulet was a bit dry, not entirely certain it just came off the spit…but still fairly tasty, and the frites were decent. Beaujolais, the friendly but stand-offish chat, spent a fair amount of time at our table, hopping up on one of the free seats of our 4-top and kept us company. 85€
RESTAURANT CLEMENTINE. 5 Rue Saint-Marc, In the 2nd. On our way to Aux Lyonaise last year we had passed this charming looking little spot and the joint was packed, the windows steamed up, and a quick glance at the menu in the window made us put it on the list for a future visit. Started with complimentary vin blanc, something slightly fizzy and Loire-ish, je crois, and then I had Oeuf en meurette, then followed with supreme de volaille for me and Veau farci au porc for Bman. A bottle of Macon blanc, 23€. 1 Dessert (the apparently viral Café Gourmand), Aperetifs and cafes for both of us: 88,30€
FRENCHIE. 5-6 Rue du Nil, in the 2nd. Through a Paris foodie insider friend we were able to score a table at this much sought after spot, our first visit. Cozy, lively and intimate. Quail starter from Bman, Trout for me and the foodie friend. Then we each had a veal tournados and shared a glace de caramel buerre sale avec lardons. My 4th or 5th go at porc with ice cream, I remain unconvinced, but it was good. A bottle of St. Joseph (49€), which seemed to garner the knowing approval of the very serious young Canadian Laura Vidal, one of only a handful of female sommeliers in Paris . 167€
LA ROSE DE FRANCE. 24 Place Dauphine, Ile de la Cite, in the 1st. We had meant for a long time to try one of the spots that line the Place Dauphine and I think somewhere I had come across a recommendation that said this was the one to opt for in this potentially touristy, though hidden little coin. Bman started with escargot which were lovely, and followed with a big, messy, but he says delicious “Rose” Burger. The cold snap continues so I was happy with a Soupe a l’oignon gratinee. I had wanted the special that day, but the couple next to us snagged the last one, the waitress kind of winked at me, and when it came time to order, suggested I have the pave de veau and risotto with morels, and further, quietly suggested it was better than the plat du jour. It was yummy and I polished it off handily. 50cl of Brouilly (19€) and we each had coffees. 75.60€
VERJUS. 47 Rue Montpensier (Bar a vin) and 52 Rue de Richlieu (upstairs resto), in the 1st. We had attended one of the popular Hidden Kitchen table d’hote dinners a few years back and enjoyed it and have enjoyed watching these charming and talented American kids grow and thrive in big bad Paree. We reserved a few weeks in advance and were only able to snag seats at the Siberian hour of 7:30 but we were more than willing to eat a bit on the earlier side a few times since we tend to try and get out of the apartment early in the morning to hit the streets. Paris, and Europe at this moment, were in the grips of a terrible deep freeze and before the bodies would arrive to fill up this elegant and dimly lit, subdued dining room it was a bit chilly, but not off putting. We had just managed to walk the length of the adjacent gardens at the Palais Royale only seconds before they locked the gates, and strolling the alee of trees in the dark was at once discomfiting and enchanting: we were ready for something magical. We started downstairs at the wine bar with a glass each of wine (22€), and each had the 70€ tasting menu (the only option) which was 6 courses. We sprang for the fromage supplement 14€, and the wine pairings, 40€ each. To the best of our knowledge, here’s what we had: a lentil and frisee salad with baby radishes and a savory ice cream (bleu cheese?) canelle on top. Paired with a White Rousette from the Jura. Next up, soft polenta with some kind of porc, shaved Brussels sprouts and a poached egg paired with a white from the sud-ouest. Truite de Bayonne and spinache, baby turnips, garlic and little clams (them again… but not for Bman, I had reminded the chef (both times) that he was allergic and they accommodated seamlessly. Paired with a St. Aubin. Next smoked duck breast on red cabbage with little raviolis (I think) filled with mushroom?? Paired with a Moulin a Vent. Enfin, a tournedos of veal with chick peas and greens and herbs paired with a red Chinon. Dessert was some sort of ice cream and a mysteriously deconstructed chocolate mousse and a corn cake soaked in some (dessert?) wine. I don’t recall what cheeses were on the plate. At the moment, it was actually a bit much, even though the preceding courses had been small. 256€ At the time I remember thinking the wine pours were a bit teensy, and the whole experience a bit much… everything we ate was very good, but did any of it stick…? was it too hard for any one thing to stand out in this litany? though if pressed I think I would say the polenta/sprouts/oeuf…. Not sure how often I want to dine with this many courses, so I think I wouldn’t rush to go back, I would explore other options in this price point, which honestly, was a bit much for us… though it does seem that the tasting menu has now been dropped down from 70 to 60€.
LES GOURMET DES TERNES – 87 Blvd de Courcelles in the 8th. Can’t remember where, but SOMEone liked this joint so we reserved and went for lunch. Oeuf Mayo for me, Poireau vinaigrette for Bman (best ever, says he). Filet de Boeuf au poivre for 2, a bottle of Brouilly, and we were arm-twisted into the pricey “dessert gourmet” (14€ each), Chantilly, fresh berries, pound cake, drowned in Rum left at the table… what’s not to like….Loud, pushy host/owner, slightly rowdy crowd… fun, actually. 155€
LE BARATIN – 3 Rue Jouye-Rouve in the 20th. After a nearly freezing morning climbing around Butte Charmont, we had fortunately reserved at this oft-discussed rustic boite. We were, in fact, nearly frozen and couldn’t have marched a single additional step, and got slightly turned around on our way to this place but we were surely rewarded. Started with a surprisingly complex watercress soup, and then a Collier d’Agneau et riz for Bman and a Fricasse de Poulet and mashed for me; both oncteuse. Followed by a piece of Saint-Nectaire for me and a fromage blanc avec miel for Bman. We each had a coffee, and we drank a lovely Cote du Rhone by Mathieu Dumarcher (36€). Something so straightforward and wonderful about the food: we were well restored. 76€.
JACQUES GENIN. 133 Rue de Turenne in the 3rd. Having been so well restored and warmed up we walked nearly all the way to the Ile, but stopped en route at Jacques Genin. Keep the address on hand as this would easily be another place to walk past a dozen or so times and never see it. Once inside the discreet little triangular building there are seating areas, more akin to a chic hotel lobby than a tea/dessert/candy spot. We settled into very comfortable lounge-y sofas and order tea and! (as they used to say in diner parlance: “coffee AND”) Bman had something called an ephemera: a rectangular construction of chocolate sides with layers of moist sponge cake and passion fruit crème between them. I had the “monte a la commande” (made on demand) Millefeuille Caramel Buerre Sale. O. My. God. Crackling pastry, rich yet bright caramel cream… wowsa. I’d go back. Tomorrow, please… also picked up some caramel beurre sale while we were there, and a few complimentary chocolates were brought with the tea. I’ve read the modest debate about whether the place is friendly, kid friendly, or otherwise welcoming… it is a bit uptight and minimalist and the waitrons take themselves very seriously (forgivable perhaps as every order is collected upstairs and delivered down to the RdeC tea room via dramatic spiral stairs… but they also DO let you chill in your little corner if that’s what you want to do, and hey, I’m from NY, I’m used to uptight... with sweets this divine – who cares…30€
CHEZ RENEE – 14 Blvd. St. Germain des Pres in the 5th near the Pont de la Tournelle. Our typical Christmas visiting keeps us from ever seeing certain spots as they are closed for a few weeks over the holidays, this being one of them. Just a block off our perch on the Ile, and with the kind of classic ambiance (dim lights, brass rails, framed posters and black and white photos…) and the kind of menu I enjoy (Classic bistrot) , and having read all the mixed reviews, it has been gently simmering on the back burner. This night, worn out from our freezing climb of the Butte, it was wonderful not to venture too far and try the joint ourselves. Very cozy dining room, and a warm welcome, though at 8 we were clearly on the early side. We ordered Cardinals (Pinot noir and cassis) to buy some time. Started with a lovely Gratin des Blettes that was terrific, and a Boeuf Bourguignon that was tasty, but the sauce a bit flour-y. Bman had the plat du jour, which at 15€ seemed quite a bargain as it was a humongous and delicious Pot au Feu. We were both too full for fromage or dessert. Given the proximity, and the agreeable ambiance and the better than average fare I’d guess we’d go back. 78€
LE PETIT MACHON – 158 Rue St-Honoré. On our way home from Verjus the other night we had walked past this little lively and cozy looking corner bistro. Having spent the morning clocking in the millimeters in the vast galleries of the Louvre, we decided to stop nearby for lunch. Started with the cocktail de maison, which was champagne, cognac and crème de fraise des bois (lovely). I had some soup to start and then a brandade du morue. Bman had the plat du jour, a cochon de lait avec gratin dauphinois. A bottle of Crozes Hermitage (30€) and coffees. 105€
PETITE PONTOISE. 9 Rue Pontoise, in the 5th. Have always liked every thing I’ve ever had here so after a few-year’s hiatus was happy to return. Started with Kirs, and then moved on to a Chateau Saint Roman Cote Du Rhone (28€). Entrees were Ravioli du Dauphine (garlicky, creamy, nicely browned top) and Tatin D’ Artichaut. For plats I went for Parmentier de Canard and B had the Poulet Fermier, both served atop very yummy pomme puree. Warm welcome, especially for this cold night and we were both well sated and happy and had the perfect amount of walk home in the cold that left enough glow to stroll around the quai of the Ile. 110€
CHEZ GEORGES, 1 Rue du Mail in the 2nd. This might be the third or fourth visit but I really like this place. Salade de Lentilles for me, and Frisee au Lardons for Bman. Sole Georges (so sue me, I like it!) swimming as always in Pouilly cream sauce and Plat du jour for B which is Pintaud Grand Mere (onions, potatoes, slow braise… you know the drill…). A bottle of Legros Sancerre 2010 (29€) and we share profiteroles and finish with coffee. Not the friendliest waitstaff, but very “proper” and the place is always jumping with Bourse men and families and the odd tête à tête (please, no photographs)… A keeper….135€
LE PRÉ VERRE 8 Rue Thenard in the 5th. Very much liked it the last time we were there and happy to return to this popular (reserve!, but you always do, oui?) Latin Quarter spot. Had a glass of some white wine while we waited for our table, then started with Crème de Salsifis for me, Slade de Lientilles et Feta for B, the entrée du jour. Drank a bottle from the Ardeche called Mas de Libian Bout d’Zan (true to its name – liquorice notes….). Sprang for (27€… off the charts for this very reasonable spot) the Poulet des Landes with Vin Jaune et Morilles and Bman had Roti de Veau, the plat of the day (12.50€ with starter…. I rest my case) ended with coffee. Packed, just shy of frenzied… Friendly. 81€
LES PIPOS- 2 Rue de L’Ecole in the 5th. Our Paris insider foodie friend, when pressed, said this was the place she loved to retreat to with a glass of something red and the very affordable and delicious Steak Frites. This corner boite seems lifted from a 50’s noir film… or is that Nouvelle Vague??? Small, cozy, walls, cubbies and corners all full of items for service and metals from battle…. Started with a potage de carrottes which was rich and yet light despite the lardons and fromage that were stirred in… sort of perfect, and then had the Pave de Charolais with green pepper sauce. Bottle of Bourgogne Pinot Noir 26€ 65€ for the whole she-bang and we will be back.
CAFÉ CONSTANT – 139 Rue Saint- Dominique in the 7th. Had been to Les Coccottes, but no other place in the Constant empire and French friends very much liked this place so off we went. Think they famously don’t take reserves, so had some Lillet while we waited but it was not too long even though it was the middle of lunch service. Our local maven might have rejected a first floor table while we were there ( a good call given the packed bar while folks waited) and the three of us were soon seated up in the pleasant premiere-etage dining room. Started with Rable de Lapin, Crème Potiron, and Oeuf Mollet en croute sittinmg in a pool of morels and cream with a tranche of crisp prosciutto (fab!). Mains were Pigeon Roti farci avec foie gras, Parmentier de quisse de Canard and Quenelles Brochette en sauce Nantua (moi). The quenelles were pretty good but a bit too foamy for my taste, give me the heavy cream sauce with this light dumpling. Finished with coffees and shared Riz au Lait and Quennelle au Chocolat noir et crème Anglais. All was pretty good, though for me the oeuf was the best. We drank a bottle of Crozes Hermitage (36€)(I go through phases…) 120€ for the two of us.
CHEZ OMAR - 47 Rue de Bretagne, in the 3rd. It had been a few years, and we’ve certainly read that you can have better cous-cous elsewhere, but have always liked this place and was happy to return after several years. I like to start with the crudités platter (plenty for 2, like a lot of items here…) which was revelatory for me the first time and enjoyable ever since: perfectly blanched, perfectly dressed, and a nice tart beginning to offset the coming heat. We both had the brochette d’Agneau and it was accompanied by mounds of cous-cous, stewed tomatoes, chick peas, etc… harissa, and we washed it all down with a pichet of Cote du Rhone (12€) and ended with coffees. Old timers from the neighborhood, families, tourists and devotees all mixed nicely. There may be better places, but this jovial, classic interior (tin ceiling, mirrors, glass partitions) happen to provide one of the memorable tastes upon reflection five months later: that lamb was very flavorful, tender, smokey, pink, …perfect. Vive Omar! 68€
Houndies – we’d be lost without you. Faster turnaround next time. Bien amicalement - G