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Long report on our short trip to Paris

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Sorry, my title said “brief” until I finished and realized it was not. So don’t expect wit, I guess.

I already covered our first restaurant lunch here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903065

That night, we went to VERJUS. I have read the comments about it feeling like the U.S. but figured that wouldn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the food, and I was right. It didn’t! It was a very good meal. I loved Braden’s cooking at Hidden Kitchen, so it was on my “must” list for this trip. Friends have given me a hard time about going to a restaurant in Paris run by Americans, and my response is always the same: “Those kids from Seattle can cook for me anytime.”

Anyway, our starter was a delicious spring herb gazpacho with garlic croutons. I loved that it had a sharpness to it, as did subsequent dishes. Second course was ricotta gnocchi with peas, carrots and hazelnuts – soft, light pillows like gnocchi should be. Third course: truffle poached egg with fava beans. This was the only miss from the kitchen, i.e. my egg was overcooked! No, I didn’t send it back because my husband actually likes them this way, so we merely swapped. His had the wonderful runny yolk I love so much. Fourth course: John Dory with fennel & artichokes in a ramp broth; perfectly cooked, fresh, and delicate. Fifth course: duck with red cabbage. This might have been my favorite course since I loved this combination. It was up there for my husband, too, as I have never ever seen him eat the skin/fat around the duck slice – and his plate was completely clean this time! Sixth course: grilled hanger steak with asparagus, mustard sauce. It was cooked perfectly, but it just fell flat – not very flavorful to me. We passed on the cheeses (we knew we’d never make it to dessert!) but the desserts were delicious: honey and cardamom panna cotta with strawberries & rhubarb, and dark chocolate sorbet with oranges and grapefruit. We did the wine pairings – no complaints there either.

Overall, very enjoyable, but my husband felt that too many of the courses had the same flavor. I knew what he meant, but I also think those were just the flavors of Spring. I felt it was a good value as well.

Here’s my only issue with Verjus. If they’re trying to cater to Americans, they’re doing a great job. If they’re not, they need to stop doing things like apologizing for not coming over more to ask how everything is. But this is France! One of the reasons I love dining here is precisely because no one comes over after each bite, asking me how it’s goin’.

Friday lunch was at SATURNE. The menu has 3 choices for each course. I went with the asparagus with comté, hake with onions & potatoes and strawberries with chèvre (pardon my not quoting the menu precisely, but the report would be twice the length!) for dessert. My husband had bonito with cucumber and fennel, cochon de lait with salsify, and beet sorbet with rhubarb. Everything was just perfect, but nothing beats a perfectly cooked fresh piece of fish; I mean to the tenth of a second. Oh, and the bread was so good. Hailing from Southern Louisiana, my husband knows his cochon de lait, and he really loved this dish. This was the only place where he got “the look” for taking pictures of our food. Otherwise, I thought the service was fantastic. We wanted for nothing and they were professional, yet warm.

Friday dinner was at DANS LES LANDES, and while the company was my favorite part of the meal, the food was fantastic as well. Such a fun place to share and try many different dishes. I can’t remember everything we ate but the standouts were the chicharones, duck hearts, asparagus with a pomegranate cream sauce – loved the sensation of the pomegranate seeds popping in my mouth – and tasty little crème brulées. This is a place I could see going back to over and over, working your way through the menu – which you can’t ever really do since they change the menu. But you’d die happy trying!

Saturday was a day where we ended up shopping (to keep it Chow-focused, caramels from Henri LeRoux, chocolates from Denise Acabo, cheese, and wine, of course – we were on a Beaujolais kick this trip – we just don’t get a lot of variety here in the U.S.). I had such a hankering for pizza, and after an extremely mediocre one in the 18th a few years ago, I made sure to make some notes on pizza places this time. So off we went to PIZZA CARATELLO. I had one with speck, gorgonzola and walnuts, and my husband had the veggie. So nice to see grilled (not griddled, grilled) eggplant on the pie. Nice crust, too. Good service, lots of locals. My craving was more than satisfied.

And that was our last meal out! Saturday night, we cooked up the veal chops from the Place d’Anvers market, with some haricots verts and potatoes that we had leftover from our first night’s roasted chicken take-out. Sunday lunch we used the balcony at our apartment for the first time – bread, wine & cheese. I had been hunting for Brin d’Amour for years since we had it at La Truffière, and I finally found it at a fromagerie on the Rue Lepic. So good. Sunday dinner was leftovers (can you tell I’m a child of depression-era parents? Nothing went to waste!) and we left Monday morning. Sigh.

Oh, and we had pastries every day: Kouign Amman from Gontran Cherrier (loved it); pain au chocolat and pain aux raisins from Landemain (I’m sure all recommendations from Chowhound – thanks!); and then brioche, a strawberry tart, and some killer almond croissants from our local boulangerie (whose name I don’t know, but imo, you don’t have to run all over town for a good patisserie).

All in all, we were very pleased with our choices and meals, both in and out. Thanks again to all who contribute their experiences and opinions on this board.

Missing Paris already….

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  1. You did fantastically for the few days you were in Paris.
    It was great fun at Dans Les Landes. Indeed the company was the best part, as it always should be. (Pti, you were off to Belgium as the high priestess of high Asian tea; otherwise you surely would have been drafted.)
    A little correction: by chicharones, you mean chipirones.
    Looking forward to your next pigout trip here…

    3 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Us? Pig out? Ha, we're looking forward to it, too.

      Thanks for the correction. I had to google it, and then remembered that was another dish I loved - those baby squid. Delicious. I was actually talking about the pork belly/cracklin type of dish - not sure what they called that en français?

      1. re: VaPaula

        You and Monsieur were delightful company. It was a treat to run into another gentleman who speaks perfectly accented English. I think the wonderfully fatty dish you are referring to is called "Poitine de Cochon Croustillant Epicé". I order that everytime it is on the menu as well as my other fave, the duck hearts.

        1. re: Laidback

          Thanks, Laidback! It certainly was croustillant. It was great meeting you and Mme Laidback. Hope you had a great fin des vacances.