About

"The reluctant Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Restaurant Review -- Beast

Metro: Republique, Arts et Metier, Temple
Open: Tuesday-Saturdays for dinner
Telephone: 07 81 02 99 77

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

4 - Star......................................................€ ................................................... 3 - Bell


We were actually at the restaurant a week ago looking for lunch, but found out that they're not open yet for lunch. But our time was not wasted, we had an opportunity to meet owner Thomas Abramowicz, a native Parisian. He's a very amicable, approachable guy with impeccable English.  As we were speaking, we couldn't concentrate because the smells emanating out of the smoker were intoxicatingly good. Thomas spent several years in the US to learn from the BBQ masters throughout the BBQ capitals.  Upon his return to Paris, he wanted to share his new found knowledge and skills by opening an American BBQ "joint", but one of the biggest challenges was the smoker, so he had it built in Texas and shipped to Paris. It's a monstrous machine, hence, the name the "BEAST".  The restaurant has only been open for a few weeks.

The "BEASTS"

The Beast does not accept reservations, except one table reserved for a minimum of 6.  Last night we were actually 8, but we squeezed in. We had a very diverse group from the US: three of us came from California (San Diego/San Francisco), two from Boston, one from Cincinnati, one from the deep south of Birmingham Alabama, and lastly our token Frenchy (ha, ha). We're all familiar with BBQ as it relates to our own hometowns, but also all of us have traveled to the south and have tasted a variety of BBQs. Like the BBQ that is offered in the US, we are quite diverse in our our BBQ preferences. Some like dry-rub, others like me like it wet and so on.

"Ordering"

The inside was very simply decorated with long picnic-like tables that are shared. Although not a large restaurant it was quite ample and in a great location near République.

Interior


So, before I delve into my review, let me describe some of the challenges Thomas had to overcome. First was the smoker, then came the meats. Beef in France, in particular, is very different than that in the US; they are grass fed and very lean (and not shot up with hormones and antibiotics), so not the kind of meat you want to smoke for 8 hours or more, because it'll become jerky.  What's ideal for BBQ is nicely marbled meat. I recently read an article with the headline that read,


"French celebrity chef expelled from country's butchers' federation for saying British beef makes the best steaks" 

Yves-Marie le bourdonnec

That famous butcher is Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec. He was right on. Unfortunately, criticizing anything French in the food world can be damaging to one's standing in the "food community."  But what Monsieur Le Bourdonnec sited did in fact hit close to home for Thomas.  It was a huge challenge to find the right meats. So, Thomas was able to solve this problem by sourcing them from different places (all natural/organic):

Origins of meat

Lastly, another challenge is to accommodate the French palate. As a general rule the French don't like overly spiced foods hence no hot links, nor do they like heavy sides, e.g., macaroni and cheese, and like most Europeans many do not like corn because it's basically animal food, hence no corn bread. But Thomas did provide thick baguettes.

Whew, with all these challenges I'm surprised Thomas wanted to venture into the food world.

With that said, the star attractions are the meats, slow cooked/smoked in a wood burning monster of a machine that must be stoked constantly.

Onto the food. You get a menu, but there's also a chalk board menu on the wall. With the exception of the drinks, it's self-service. You go to the counter and you order exactly what you want, including the sides, simple enough. The food is served on what looks to be a rimmed baking sheet and you're also offered up sliced pickles and onions.

We all ordered different meats, beef ribs, brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork, but none of us ordered the chicken, interestingly enough. We all raved about the meats. And, the pulled pork was one of the highlights. They were so tender and juicy, and the best part was the smoky flavors came out to give it that distinct American BBQ flavor. The meat was so tender it literally was falling off the bone. Thomas cooks his meats in the "dry" method, meaning not basting it with BBQ sauce during the cooking process. The only discernible difference for us was the quantity. Americans like slabs of meat, whereas the French like smaller/modest portions. As far as the meats were concerned, we all unanimously gave it a 4 out of 5 rating.

The BBQs


Now the sides were a different story. Like the diversity of BBQ, we all had differences of opinions, and keep in mind Thomas has to think about French sensibilities and their palates:

1.  BBQ sauce. I happen to like bbq sauce on my meat, so I ordered some at the counter. I got a little dab on my pan, what I tasted was a very vinegary catsup, which I didn't like. So, I went back and asked for the more spicy sauce, which they accommodated me with, this I liked more, but could've been spicier and a tad sweeter. Personally, I would have liked to have the sauces on the tables, and maybe provide 2-different kinds, one spicy and one not spicy so one can help themselves.

2.  Cole slaw. I liked the cole slaw, it was tangy and sweet. The vinegar is great for BBQ to cut down on the fat. Only minor complaint was that it was under seasoned. Others wanted a more creamy cole slaw, so this is more a personal choice.

3.  Baked beans. With the exception of 1 person, all of us loved the beans, it had a hint of spiciness.

4.  Baked potatoes. They were sliced in half and what appeared to be an attempt to be a baked potatoes with sour cream. It was a bit underwhelming.

5.  Steamed vegetables. None of us ordered it but I asked if I could see it. They were pretty gray and seemed overcooked. I would've provided something very traditional like "greens", slowed cooked with bacon, which is not only more traditional, but there's no such thing as overcooking it and it's more appealing to the eye.

Admittedly, the sides were put on the "back-burner" to excuse the pun, since this, after all, is a meat eating country.


Desserts:

1.  Key lime pie.  Although this dessert was very good, it really wasn't a key lime pie, more like a lemon/lime tart. But in Thomas' defense, the only real key-lime pie is found in the southern states.

2.  Pecan pie. Although tasty, the crust was incredibly thick and dense and difficult to slice into. It seemed as if the crust was the featured attraction. I would use a lighter crust and more filling.

Note: These desserts were more reminiscent of French desserts where the fillings are thin.

3. 'Coco' pie.  This was a hit, it was a simple dish, but we all liked the flavors. The coconut flavors came out although several said it needed more coconut. 

Desserts


Summary:  

The meats are the star attraction. And, Thomas delivered. The meats were perfectly smoked, moist and succulent and overall delicious. As Americans, we would've wanted more BBQ sauce readily available. The simple solution is to have them on the table, it'd also be one less thing the person at the counter has to dish out.

The Beast has only been open for a few weeks. We give high marks on the meats, the featured attraction. As for the sides, it's perfect for the French palate. As in most American restaurants that are popping up in Paris, you have to make special request for certain items, in my case spicier BBQ sauce. For example, when we went to a Mexican restaurant last week, we asked for corn tortillas, since they don't normally serve corn tortillas to their customers because it's not a flavor the French enjoy.

Some of you may be asking, why are you going to a BBQ restaurant in Paris? For many ex-pats it's a taste of home. And, for the French it's a nice change. We're so happy Thomas opened this. It's a first of it's kind in Paris.  And, did I mention he has quite the collection of bourbon. I can't wait until he opens it for lunch.

Extensive Bourbon Collection


It's already become extremely popular. By 8 pm there were lines forming. Considering the newness and the many challenges, CHAPEAU Thomas.

For 8-people, with some alcohol, our bill came to 21€ a piece. A great deal. Would I come back, ABSOLUTELY.








Sunday, November 16, 2014

Restaurant Review -- Sixième Sens

43-45 Rue de La Roquette 11eme
Metro:  Bastille
Phone: 09 83 88 63 52 or 06 67 19 07 19
Website: http://www.restaurant-sixieme-sens.fr/accueil.html
Note: Reservations can be made online as well
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

4 - Star......................................................€€ ................................................... 2 - Bell


Sixième sense, or the "6th Sense", restaurant is in one of the liveliest areas of Paris, in the heart of the 11eme by the Bastille.  I must say once you enter you escape into this tiny, cozy restaurant away from the frenetic, noisy activity just outside its doors.



We were personally greeted by Chef Guillaume Poupard. I was expecting to be greeted by a maitre'd or a wait-staff. It's a very small cute restaurant with only 16-seats. So we started chatting with the Chef and he told us he had 2 other restaurants and had at one point as many as 9-employees. He wanted something small and something he can do that he loves, namely cooking, without all the headaches that come with owning a large restaurant and to be able to meet his guests. Well I thought this should be an interesting experience, not only is he going to be our waiter, bus-boy, and bottle washer, he was going to be our Chef. So I anticipated that we would be in for a long night.


Although he had some apéritifs, we opted against them, for me personally because I don't like sweet drinks, and they were fruit punch cocktails. 

Entrées:

There were 4 of us for dinner.  Three had the "Tartare de thon légèrement acidulé à la coriandre fraiche, au citron vert et aux graines de sésame torréfiées «façon Tataki », coulis passion et pesto génois" (Tuna tartare slightly tangy fresh coriander, lime and roasted sesame seeds passion fruit coulis and pesto Genovese). We all liked this dish. It was delicious. Very refreshing with all the fruit and pesto that complimented it well. I felt like I was eating something straight from the Caribbean, I was almost hoping for a little "heat" (spicy), but this is France so it wouldn't go over well. Overall a very well composed first start.



I had the "Terrine de foie gras frais de canard de Sarlat à la vieille prune, confiture de figues aux noix" (Foie gras duck plum old Sarlat, fig jam nut).  The fois gras had a nice layer of duck fat atop the dish. Some people like to spread this on their bread, but I find the fois gras rich enough. I was eating it alone with just their rolls, which by the way were delicious. His rolls were crusty, heavier and heartier which I'm guessing was a combination of white/wheat flour. I don't normally like putting sweet on my fois gras, but my friends said you have to taste it, and I did, and it was delicious. How can you go wrong with good fois gras and some confiture to start. It too was a great start!

Plats:

Three of us had the "Charlotte de filet d'agneau fondant rôti à la fleur de Thym" (Charlotte lamb fillet roast fondant flower Thyme). Since we can see the kitchen, I noticed that he topped the lamb with a sprig of thyme and flamed it with a torch. Interesting, so it basically gave the lamb a whiff of smoky thyme. At first glance the plating looked very familiar. In fact, it was the same plating style as the tuna tartare for our entrée. But the taste was totally different. He sliced the lamb into nice thin medallions that sat atop a ratatouille of eggplant and zucchini. The lamb was perfectly cooked. Pink on the inside and the ratatouille was a nice hidden surprise. I actually took the thyme and sprinkled it around my lamb, which added an extra dimension that I liked. It was a good dish.


One person got the "Médaillons de belles noix de Saint-Jacques à la fondue de poireaux avec ses petites carottes tournées confites au miel et tagliatelles de «Prosciutto di Parma»" (Beautiful medallions of scallops, leeks with small candied carrots with honey and tagliatelle "Prosciutto di Parma"). Our friend said she adored this dish. It was perfect for her and the saltiness of the ham combined with some of the sweet elements was very complimentary.

Dessert:

Unfortunately, the Chef did not have a cheese plate, and since I don't eat sweet desserts, I opted to have a glass of cognac as my dessert.

One person ordered the "Soupe de Mangue rafraîchissante aux essences de vanille" (Mango soup refreshing essences of vanilla).  Not only was it beautifully presented in a mason jar, but true to it's title it was very refreshing. It was a mango soup that also had nice sized sweet chunks of mango. This was a big hit!



Lastly one had the "Feuillantine aux poires Williams et marrons glacés sauce chocolat noir intense" (Thin crispy dough with a williams pears and chestnuts intense dark chocolate sauce).  It was nicely presented At first glance I thought it might be a napoleon, because of its layers, I'm guessing thin "leafs" were made from crispy filo dough with a poached pear and rich intense chocolate. Everyone who tasted this dish loved it and thought it was absolutely delicious with the different elements of textures and taste.

Summary:

All I have to say is, who runs a restaurant, alone. Either they're mad or a genius. In his case, he wanted a simpler life and give pleasure by cooking small intimate dinners. Even I, at minimum, would need a dish washer, and I mean the living and breathing kind. But I have to say, my hat's off to the Chef. I was so impressed with his precision and timing. I thought for sure that we would have to wait awhile in between courses, but he's a professional and really knows kitchen timing well. It's like going to someone's home and being prepared very good food by a good friend. He's very personable and just a nice all-around good guy. Would I go back, ABSOLUTELY.

Chapeau Chef!




With a bottle of malbec, 1 glass of cognac, 4 entrees, 4 plats, 2 desserts, 2 coffees our bill came to €160.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Food tour -- Secret Food Tours


Website: http://www.secretfoodtours.com/contact/
Contact Phone #:  0033 (0) 650487657

Recently I was invited to check out a food tour through Montmartre, my old neighborhood. It was a company I had not heard of since they've only been open for less than 4-months, so I did not want to pass up the chance to see my old neighborhood that I love, and oftentimes take for granted.

"Secret Food Tours Paris" was conceived and founded by Nico Jacquart, a Frenchmen who recently returned to France from the U.K. to open up this new venture. The tours are very intimate and are for no more than 8-people.

Nico and Pierre-Jean


On this particular wet day in Paris we met at Metro Anvers (line 2) at 11 am. Two lovely couples joined, one Canadian and the other couple from the U.K. We were a total of 5.


At the helm of our tour was Pierre-Jean. What a truly fun guy. He went to Johnson and Wales in Miami, Florida so spoke fluent English and was very well versed on Parisian food culture and the history of Montmartre. After giving us a history of the area, we immediately headed off to the "big guns" a chocolate store.


This particular chocolatier has only been around for about 3-years. So, in one way I'm glad I no longer live in the area, otherwise, I'd be as big as a house. The store was not only immense, but was filled with beautiful, edible chocolates and macarons. We were able to sample several types of chocolates and hard candies. Yum, what a great way to start a tour.


Next stop we went to our old neighborhood bakery. This boulangerie, AU LEVAIN D’ANTAN won "Grand Prix de la Baguette de la Ville de Paris" in 2011. Which means in 2011 they beat out several hundred boulangeries for the best baguette, hence, had the privilege of providing baguettes to the President of France, at the time President Sarkozy, so their breads are very well known and  delicious.



In addition to the baguettes, Pierre-Jean bought some eclairs which we later ate at the park around the corner where the "wall of love" is prominently featured.


Next we headed to a pâtisserie specializing in "French" macarons. The proprietor's hair was as colorful as the various macarons. They had such an incredible variety of macrons, that my head just spinned. They were so beautiful and delicious. Some in our group decided they were coming back at a later date to bring some to their loved ones.


Next we headed to Charcuterie, all I have to say is wow. Talk about a selection of pâtés, terrines and sausages.  They not only had French sausages, but sausages imported from other countries like Spain. I was in fact intrigued with the chorizo from Spain, since the proprietor told me it was very spicy, so Pierre-Jean got us some to taste for later.


And, what comes after visiting a charcuterie? well why cheese of course. I was aghast at the selection of cheese this particular cheese store had. I was even more intrigued by the vibrant colors of some of the cheeses. The proprietor told us that the brilliant color came from red basil (red cheese) and pesto (green cheese) pictured.


Well I thought we had hit every food store in the Montmartre, boy was I wrong. We had one final last stop, and one of the most important visits of all, if you guessed wine, you would be correct. The wine shop "La Cave des Abbessess" was amazing. I have never seen such an extensive array of wines in Montmartre, so this was a nice treat.


Inquisitively, I asked Pierre-Jean what he was lugging around all day. Turns out he had a table and a special back-pack that housed everything but the kitchen sink, like utensils, plates and more importantly wine glasses.  He said that normally part of the tour is a picnic, but unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate so we used the small dining area of the wine shop.

Now this was the fun part for me, wine tasting with the baguette, cheeses and charcuterie Pierre-Jean bought earlier.  Pierre-Jean is extremely knowledgeable about wines and gave us an interesting course how how they are produced, the vintages and the "terroir".


As you can see from the happy faces, we had a great time. And, when I thought all was said and done, Pierre-Jean gave us a short walking tour of the Place du Tertre and Sacré Cœur where alas we bid our farewells.

I have to say, I've been on many tours in my life. And, for me the personality of the tour guide as well as his/her knowledge is paramount to a successful tour. Nico and Pierre-Jean delivered.  Pierre-Jean is not only extremely knowledgeable about the surrounding history and knowledge of the foods, he had the personality to match. Very amicable and just a fun nice guy to be around.

Would I recommend this tour, ABSOLUTELY! Merci


Friday, November 7, 2014

Restaurant Review -- Kigawa

186 Rue du Château – 75014 Paris, France
Tel: 01 43 35 31 61
Closed Sunday, Monday/Tuesday lunch
Website: 
http://kigawa.fr/
Metro: 
Pernety (13)

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

4 - Star......................................................€€€ ................................................... 2 - Bell

This restaurant has been around for the last 3-years. At the helm is Japanese Chef Kigawa, the restaurant's namesake, serving up French food. It's definitely a more neighborhood restaurant, known by only a few and those who want to venture out to the 14eme arrondissement.


It's a very small restaurant, probably no more than 23-seats. For a small restaurant, it's very cozy and very inviting. Surprisingly, not all the tables were reserved, in fact, while we were there they accepted two "walk-ins". One of the couples who sat next to us lived in the neighborhood and said that they've been before and it's normally very crowded and busy, but decided to try their luck; fortunately, they were able to get it.

We perused the menu. It's in French and Japanese. I can only assume that he has a large Japanese following.  They had a varied and interesting dinner menu. You could have the Pre-fix menus of either the 47€ (entrée, plat and dessert) or the 64€, which gave you two additional fish dish as well as an extra dessert.  We opted for the 47€ pre-fix.



For our amuse bouche we had a shredded mackerel paté with a crispy crouton toast. Now this is definitely not for everyone. It is very fishy, but I love strong flavors, so this amuse bouche was a hit for me.













Entrees:

JJ had the Pâté de gibier / salade de mesclun (Game pie / mesclun salad).  At first glance, the dish sort of resembled "corned beef", but it is a pâté of wild game, and it has a nice layer of fat. I liked the dish a lot. It had a lot of flavor and with the nice crispy toast and salad with a fig, it was a nice start.



I had the Terrine de lapin confit (terrine of rabbit confit). It was a terrine that had chunks of root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes formed together with a light aspic. It was accompanied by some greens, a cornichon and nice herbed mayonnaise. Although a good dish, it wasn't my favorite.










Plats:

JJ had the Canard sauvage rôti, au sumac (Roast wild duck, sumac). Although it was wild duck, it was not "gamey" which is sometimes characteristic of wild duck. The sauce was heavy, and maybe that's the reason the wild duck did not have that gamey taste. It was a good, albeit heavy, but well composed dish, but nothing out of the ordinary.


I had the Langue de Boeuf Croustillante/ foie gras poêle (Crispy Beef tongue / foie gras pan).  I have to say I was very intrigued by this dish, and as soon as it caught my eye on the menu, I had to have it, and so I did. I have to say I loved this dish. True to it's word, the outer layer of skin was nice and crispy and the tongue had its characteristic texture of being moist and not fibrous as a steak. It was accompanied a wonderful foie gras that was cooked medium rare. This dish was very innovative and I really enjoyed it.








Desserts:

As usual I had the cheese plate. They were 2-great cheeses. I had a brie and roquefort. It came with a nice confiture of fig. Their breads are really good. They're a heartier wheat bread versus your typical white flour baguette.





Although JJ could have ordered the Soufflé au marrons (Chestnut soufflé), which by the way you must let them know at the beginning of the meal, and seems to be a great hit with its patrons, he opted for the Gelée aux pamplemousses rosés à la menthe / glace fromage blanc (Pink grapefruit jelly with mint ice / white cream cheese). It was a very simple dish with gel and nice slices of grapefruit with mint. It was very refreshing, but nothing out of the ordinary.


After our meal, the Chef personally came out to meet all the dinner guests and ask how we liked our meal. He's very young, but seemed a bit shy.

Summary:

I liked the restaurant, whereas JJ thought that although it was above average food it was nothing exceptional.  He also pointed out that many of the Japanese chefs running French restaurants bring their flair for exceptional presentations and creative pairings; these dishes were quite French in their presentation and pairings.  The restaurant is cute, very cozy, and the service was impeccable. I thought the tongue dish was excellent and very different and unique. Surprisingly, even though I don't believe they turn tables, service was very fast and efficient.  Not French at all.  And, even more surprising, one of our French waiters spoke fluent Japanese since as I mentioned, this restaurant is popular with Japanese tourist and expats.  Probably based on the menu choices, the wine list was quite heavy with Burgundies and weak in other regions, and the prices escalated rapidly.



With 2-apéritifs (a kir and a martini blanc), and a bottle of Saumur-Champigny our bill came to 150€.  Will we go back, absolutely.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Culinary Classes -- "Paris on the Edge"



PARIS ON THE EDGE
with Allison Zinder
 COOKING CLASSES AND WALKING TOURS
Website:  http://parisontheedge.com/

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to attend Allison Zinder's cooking classes that she recently launched in Paris. Having lived in France since 1995, Allison has acquired a vast knowledge not only of its people, culture, and history, but also its cuisine. In 2007, she focused her love of teaching and began teaching culinary arts in a technical school in the 19eme.



We were in total 7-people. Some amateur cooks and 3 of us were trained chefs. So it was quite a diverse group in not only culinary skills, but also age and language. Note: Allison is bilingual and can easily switch between French and English.

Our menu for today: (Recipes can be found on her website listed above)




Pumpkin chestnut soup












Lemon confit and ginger-toasted veal

















Fluffy flourless chocolate cakes with Earl Grey crème anglaise








All-in-all the dishes were fabulous. You will learn skills, cooking techniques and also some of the French cultural nuances as it relates to food, culture and dining etiquette. Allison's warm, patient and nurturing personality is infectious and goes a long way when teaching several different personality types. This probably has to do with her many years teaching teenagers.



Should you book; I say ABSOLUTELY.  What an absolutely wonderful time spent cooking, then even more fun, getting to taste the fruits of our labor.

CHAPEAU ALLISON!

Allison also provides walking tours, so please visit her site. 






Sunday, October 26, 2014

Restaurant Review -- Fogón

45, Quai des Grand Augustins, 75006 Paris
Tel:  01 43 54 31 33
Web: fogon.fr
Metro: St. Michel (Line 4)
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

4.50 - Star......................................................€€ ................................................... 2 - Bell

It was a cold dreary, wet day in Paris, so we went to Fogón for a late lunch. JJ had been there before, and he had raved about it. It's a Spanish restaurant known for their paella.

It's a really cute restaurant. Quite spacious by Parisian standards, and the location couldn't be better. The restaurant is very playful, and as we were searching for our utensils our wait person told us we each had a drawer with our napkins and utensils. A cute idea.


Although they had an October tasting special, we opted for the 51€ per person prefix-menu for two which came with several entrées, and you can select what type of paella you wished to have. We selected the "paella negro" which is a black paella seafood paella made with squid ink.


For our amuse bouche we had lovely popsicles of cucumbers and cantaloupe. Although a little gimmicky, we were first given an aromatic of fig to to smell and sweeten our olfactory senses. It was very refreshing, and I can see this being a big hit in the summer.




For our first entrée we got the "crevettes bagnées dans l'eau de morue" (bagnées water shrimp and cod). The Chef appears to like "agar-agar" or should I say 'gel', both dishes had a thin layer of it. The dishes were innovative, fun and a great entrée to start with.




Our second entrée was "la plage à la marée montante" (the beach at high tide).  This was a very playful dish. It was the Chef's interpretation of what the beach would look like at high tide. There was seaweed, and various other shell fish such as cockles and also a side of a poached cabillaud. This dish was not only innovative and beautifully presented but was delicious, the "jus" was out of this world delicious. Again, he had a thin layer of a jellied sauce under the cabillaud. I could've lived without, but all-in-all a delicious dish.

Then onto the main course. We had "Le riz en Paëlla noir" (seafood paella with squid ink). It's not an attractive dish by any means and maybe 'off-putting', but don't let the ugliness of the dish fool you. It's packed with tons of flavor since the paella is flavored with squid ink. The rice was cooked, al dente, which may turn some people off, but we enjoyed it tremendously.


For desserts JJ had the rhubarb creme brulée and I had the Manchego cheese. The Rhubarb brulée was excellent and the manchego cheese was aged where it almost tasted like a parmesan, reggiano. Both was excellent.













Summary: 

It's so nice when you come across a restaurant that really tickles and excites the palate. The food and service were excellent. We felt like we were in a 3-star michelin restaurant without paying the prices. If I have any complaint at all is that he used too much jellied this and that, which is a style preference more than anything else.  They do have a monthly tasting menu, which was the same price as their prefix meal, 51€ per person. With a glass of sangria and a coupe de champagne, and 2-glasses of their of white and red whites our bill came to 155€.  Would we go back ABSOLUTELY.  This will be my new go to restaurant for Spanish food.