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, April 28, 2016

FLOYD’S -- Restaurant Review


11 rue d'Enghien
75010 Paris
tel: 01 44 79 05 52
website: http://www.floyds.fr/index.php?page=floyds-story
Metro: 4, 8, 9 (Bonne Nouvelle, Strasbourg St.Denis, Château d'eau

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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

4.25 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell


This restaurant was originally owned by a Bostonian Jaime Young in 2014 and was recently sold to Chris from southern California. A group of friends had gone a week earlier, and I wasn't able to go because I had a cold. But they came back and raved about the place and I made a commitment to go the following week with friends. If you are from the US, you know there is a variety of different types of BBQ from each state, especially the southern states, and each will tout their's as being the best bbq.  Floyd's is of the "Kansas City" style bbq, which is known for long smoking periods and covered with a rich tangy bbq tomato sauce typically sweetened with molasses.



The restaurant is very homey and in the background we heard American old classics from the 70's, 80's and 90's which we were all humming and singing to, which brought us back to home. The tables were nicely spaced.  One room had the original brick work which added a nice earthy feel.


We were told the lunch portions were a little smaller than the dinner portions.  The price point for lunch was very, very affordable. And, we were also told they served cocktails and they had quite the selection of beers.



Chris let me take a peek in their kitchen. They actually had a BBQ grill or should I say smoker in the kitchen. It was not as large as I expected it, but then again size is not everything, it's how you use it that counts. The meats are pre-cooked and then smoked.




They do have a bar. As ex-pats in Paris we know we are picky about our cocktails and in some respects kind of prejudice since we believe that no one makes better cocktails than Americans. We had our resident cocktail expert with us who ordered margaritas.  He simply stated it was the best margarita he's had in Paris.










ENTRÉES


Poitrine de porc (pork belly). One of us ordered this dish, and he absolutely loved it. He was kind of enough to let me have one of the crackling strips which sat atop the pork.  It was nice and crunchy, but was full bodied enough that you could taste the pork.  The meat was melt in your mouth tender, and it was accompanied with some sweet pickles. Bottom line, the juxtaposition of the crunchy skin and moist tender meat and the sweet tangyness of the pickles was a hit.






BBQ meatballs.  Meatballs can be very dry if not made well. These meatballs were extremely moist. A nice sweet sauce encompassed the meatballs. Sometimes the most simple dishes can be the most difficult to execute. This was a very good simple, "down-home" style dish, done right.









Salade de Betteraves (beet salad).  Two of us ordered this for our entrées, and we loved it. Interestingly enough we kept saying, these beets taste like they were smoked, so we asked our waiter, and he confirmed that they were indeed smoked.  Smoking the beets brought the salad to a totally new level. The smokiness of the beets was congruous with the whole menu. I didn't even notice the dressing, since I was so wowed with the beets. Overall an excellent salad.




PLATS



Now onto the star of the menu. We convinced one of our friends who normally does not eat red meat to have their specialty, the BBQ ribs. So, we all had the dish. First of all, the ribs were so tender it was finger licking good. You got a nice size portion whereas in many other rib places the portions are quite small. The sauce was thick and sweet, I believed it was sweetened with maple syrup rather than molasses, but it also had a nice little after kick afterwards. We all concurred, it was one of the best ribs we've had in Paris.  We didn't even notice the accompaniments because the ribs were so good. The cornbread was characteristically dry, but had we ordered some butter that would've solved the problem.  Interestingly, they served us mac and cheese. I was told by several French restauranteurs that mac and cheese is strange for many French palates because it's too rich and thick.  It was definitely  "à ta façon" their way or their recipe, a lighter version of our mac and cheese. In other words it wasn't as cheesy and it was more "bready." Personally, I liked it because the ribs and sauce was rich enough.  And, you can't have ribs without coleslaw. The coleslaw was a simple red cabbage slaw. Nice, crispy and tangy, and it offset some of the sweetness of the ribs.

DESSERTS



Key lime pie.  I'm certainly not an expert on key lime pies, but my friend who ordered is. He loved the pie. I tasted a little bit of it, and it has a sharp tartness, but what I liked about it, it wasn't overly sweet like most American desserts. So, this pie was a hit.






S'mores pie.  The French will not know what s'mores are. Now who didn't like having s'mores as a kid.?Especially sticking those marshmallows into the fire pit and then having it melt the chocolate. This particular pie didn't exactly taste like a s'mores to me, but the interpretation was there. It was more like a creamy chocolate chiffon pie with a "sablé" crust.  Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, albeit very sweet for my taste. This would definitely be a chocolate lovers dessert.





SUMMARY

Talk about a great find. We could not stop raving about it among ourselves, about how lucky we were to have found an American bbq joint where you could sit down, be served and have a proper meal. The margaritas were great, the entrées, plats and desserts were all hits. The food is not "haute-cuisine" by any means, but in it's simplicity is a "soulful down-home" cooking style. Chris and his staff are fantastic. The previous owners apparently had different work operating hours, so it's not well known that they're open for lunch. Would we go back, in a nano second.

I typically review French (or French style, or ex-French colony) restaurants but this restaurant is down-home, rib joint, Americana, and I think it rates as good as any of the American ribs and rib joints I've been to in the States, and by far is the best we've found in Paris.  If you're missing a home-town (home-country) fix- go to Floyds.

With 2-margaritas, formules: 2-full lunches with dessert, and 2-entrée + plat, a bottle of rosé and 3-coffees are meal came to 42€ each.

Mobilis in Mobili -- Restaurant Review


94 Rue St. Denis
Paris 75001
tel: 09 53 58 97 13
website: www.customseafood.fr
Metro: Line 4 (Etienne Marcel)
Note: book online at "La Fourchette"
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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

3.25 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell



This is very new restaurant, in fact, so new that there was still plywood laying around and while we were dining, restaurant equipment was being delivered.  It's a large restaurant, and it is a seafood only restaurant. We went for lunch, and they did have some great lunch specials reasonably priced. For examples "moules et frites" for 12€; that's even less expensive than the restaurant chain "Léon de Bruxelles" which is known for their "moules et frites"


The set-up was very interesting, functional to a point.  Your table has a raised shelf the width of a bookcase shelf to use for accoutrements. Unfortunately, it was set up really high so depending what you place on the raised shelf e.g., wine bottles, you couldn't see your friends seated across from you. Had they lowered it maybe 10 inches, it would been more conducive for conversation, and also there'd be less fear of knocking over a bottle of wine.


The menu is interesting, they have a few prix-fixe meals (set combinations), but they also have a section where you can order seafood individually and make your own platter. All you do is check the different items you'd like and manner of cooking. There were just too many choices for me so I selected the "Le Plaisancier du jour" (The Yachtsman of the day), while my two companions selected "Le Moussaillon du jour" (The Cabin Boy of the day).  JJ, being the adventurous eater he is, found something on the menu he had never seen (violet de mer) so he added that to his Moussaillon combination.  And J, who does not like Couteaux (razor clams) asked if they could skip that on his Moussaillon and maybe substitute another oyster or something which they said they would.


One of our companions had a crab bisque starter. We all really liked it. It wasn't thick and heavy like most bisques are. Don't get me wrong, it was rich, but didn't have that abundantly creamy heaviness associated with bisque. However, it did have a nice heaping of crème fraîche to add richness, if you wanted.  Overall, it was a really good bisque.









I have to say, we had a nice variety of seafood from oysters, shrimp, cockles, mussels, and razor clams just to name a few.  You got 3-accompanying sauces: mayonnaise mustard, mayonnaise espelette, and a vinaigrette.  I did ask for some hot sauce, and our wait person said that these were the sauces, so I guess they didn't have any hot sauces. Overall, it was a nice selection.












For dessert my two friends ordered a fruit bowl and a "cafe gourmand".  The fruit bowl, was just that, a nice bowl of fresh fruit without any adornments or sauces, fresh and simple.

The cafe gourmand included a caramel ice-cream, a chocolate macaron and a small chocolate tart, and a shot of espresso. All good, but nothing out of the ordinary.







For the wines we had a "Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie" which is a staple of white wines from the Loire Valley. And, it's a very light, fresh, and lemony wine with lots of acidity. And, we had a bottle of "Cuvee imperiale Saumur Champigny" a red also from the Loire Valley, that has a richer fuller taste. And, some describe it has having "flowery" notes.






SUMMARY

As I mentioned, the restaurant is very, very new. They have not ironed out all the kinks. The menu is very confusing. Our first wait-person knew the menu quite extensively, so I imagine that he was probably the manager and/or owner. Our second wait person didn't have any clue about the menu. She really needs to bone up because she couldn't answer any of our questions. When our original dish arrived, I asked if it was everything we ordered or just one of the orders. She said it was all our orders, which turned out not to be the case, cause another waiter came with 2-other orders.

The quality of the seafood was excellent, and the price point was also excellent. In fact, in retrospect, I should've ordered the smaller dish. The "Le Plaisancier du jour" was a lot of food. You can pick and choose as well. The table seatings would've been more functional had they just lowered the shelf by about 10-inches. The restaurant has a funky pleasant vibe.  Many of the tables, like ours, are in what might be considered a mini 'stateroom' or booth, giving a sense of privacy.  The location of the restaurant however, is right in the middle of the section of the rue St Denis in the Les Halles area of Paris.  The menu and the final 'invoice' are quite confusing; even the staff admitted that.

The menu, while confusing, is really quite a feat.  All individual seafood items to make your customized platter are a base price of 2.50€ times a minimum sized order; obviously the number of items (eg oysters) or weight (eg mussles) in an individual order vary.  Examples: Huitre special Utah #2 (you get 1 oyster) = 5.00€ (2 times the base price), Huitre fine claire #4 (you get 2 oysters) = 2.50€ (1 times the base price), Moules 500g = 5.00€ (2 times the base price), violet de mer 200g = 15.00 (6 times the base price), etc.

Bottom line, for the amount of food and the quality of the seafood it was half the price that you'd pay at e.g., "Le Dome" which is known for their seafood.  The service, although pleasant, their timing was really off, and one of the wait staff was clueless about the menu.  I would go back, but I'd wait until the dust settled. I would've given it an average rating, but what bumped it up was the quality and price of the seafood.

For 1-entree, 2-plats (14€), 1-plat (32€), the addition of the violet de mer, 2-desserts, and 2-bottles of wine the bill came to 146€ which was then reduced to 117€ to include a 20% discount since we booked online on "La Fourchette."  It was not obvious on the invoice about the reduction because the bottom of the bill showed the detailed regular price and somewhere in the middle of the bill was the reduced price.  It would have been easy to pay the amount on the bottom of the bill.






Sunday, April 24, 2016

Carette Place de Vosges -- Restaurant Review


25 Places des Vosges
 tel: 01 48 87 94 07
Hours: 7:am to midnight 7/7
website: http://www.carette-paris.fr/?lang=en
Metro: Saint Paul (1), Chemin Vert (8), Bastille (1,5,8)


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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

3.25 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell



Never say never. The last time I ate at a restaurant at "Place des Vosges"  it was so awful and expensive, I  swore I would never eat in such a touristy area again. Well, all I have to say is "never say, never."  At the recommendation of a friend, he suggested we go to this restaurant for brunch.  We didn't have reservations, but because it is a tourist area, they do turn tables, so it would be a matter of waiting, if it was crowded. Although we could've immediately gotten a table when we arrived to the most exterior part of the restaurant, it was cold and damp and that area did not have any lamp heaters, so I requested a table inside. The maitre'd said it would be about 5or 10-minutes.  The interior was lovely, large and spacious.


I was quite surprised, as you can see on the left side of the photo, there were seats available and there were no signs that they were reserved, but in Paris, you never question the maitre'd's motives, so we waited. As you enter, you're taken aback by the beautiful pastries which the restaurant is known for, especially for brunch or afternoon coffee/tea.


Standing next to the pastries while waiting for our table I was so close to taking one and just eating it. But a table under the heating lamps outside became available and the maitre'd asked if we wanted it, and we unanimously responded yes, especially since we had already been waiting more than 15 minutes.

They have an extensive menu and even cocktails,  and surprisingly American mimosas, not common in Paris. The brunch menu for 30€ consisted of fresh squeezed juice of your choice (e.g., grapefruit or orange) coffee/tea/chocolate of your choice, a croissant (plain or chocolate), scrambled eggs with toast and jam. Three chose this menu, and I got the chicken sandwich with fries, whereas a friend got the chicken salad. The hot chocolate was similar, although not quite as thick, to Angelina's but is their own version and was delicious.


The croissants were amazing, they were enormous. Extremely flaky, buttery, light and overall delicious.

The eggs; all three liked the eggs.  I personally found them a bit odd. I think of scrambled eggs as being fluffy and soft. It was almost as if they took a plain omelette, cut it into cubes and folded it into the scrambled eggs, which made it appear and almost taste like cubes of tofu were mixed with the eggs. Mais, pas mal (but not bad).  Even JJ, who hates eggs, enjoyed his omelette.
















I had the chicken sandwich, you can have it on whatever bread they have available, I selected a baguette. The baguette was nice and crunchy, the way I like it. Although you don't get a lot of chicken, what I did have was good. There was a nice helping of tomatoes and lettuce and some dijon flavored mayonnaise.  The fries were out of this world crispy and delicious.








A friend got the Chicken salad. And, she loved it. There was a nice variety of fresh vegetables, cheese, olives, and a boiled egg.  And, although it only had a few slices of chicken, what was there was moist and went well with the salad.  So, overall a very composed salad.











SUMMARY

I've walked by this restaurant innumerable times, but have never even considered eating there. Brunches are becoming very popular in Paris, so if you're looking for a place for brunch, this is the place for you. Forewarning, it is in a very touristy area, but you are in a beautiful setting. The service was excellent, and many of the wait-staff spoke other languages besides French and English. In fact, I noticed a few were Spanish and/or Italian.  It's not the fanciest or most sophisticated food, but it's simple, basic, and unpretentious. Although, for brunch (actually breakfast) it's not inexpensive. For three prix-fixe brunch menus, 1-chicken salad, 1-chicken sandwich, 1-order of fries and 2-large glasses of rosé, the bill came to 154€, or about 31€ a person, but you're paying for the location and atmosphere.  Speaking of location, they do have another location at Trocadero.  In fact, that was the original location and has been well regarded for many years.  Would I go back, for brunch, YES!  It is a pastry shop (and the pastries are to die for) so you can come and get the pastries to go without sitting at the tables.







Thursday, March 24, 2016

L'Entredgeu -- Restaurant Review


 83 rue Laugier, 75017
Metro: line 3 (Porte Champerret)
Telephone: 01 40 54 97 24
Closed Sunday and Monday
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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

4 - Star......................................................€€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell


A friend from my Wednesday luncheon group had a meeting in the 17eme and her time was limited, so I suggested we eat somewhere close to where she needs to be, and voila we wound up in the 17eme at a restaurant she found from a popular blog.  It's sort of "off-of-the-beaten-path", and not normally where tourists would venture out to.

The restaurant is a very, very typical French bistrot. In fact, it's an old school Basque style restaurant and has been around for ages.  I was curious what the almost impossible to pronounce name of the restaurant meant, but simply it's the namesake of the restaurant owner, Philip Tredgeu.


As I mentioned it's a very typical French bistrot, with tight squeezed in tables, but that was the charm of the restaurant. We were a bit early arriving at noon,  but the restaurant started filling up quickly after about 12:30.

We perused the menu on a blackboard, and it appeared to offer a diverse range of choices with a prix-fixe lunch offered at 26€ for 2-courses and 36€ for 3-courses, which was very reasonable.



ENTRÉES

Velouté de panais, parmesan et petits croutons, (Cream of parsnip, Parmesan and small croutons).  Two of my friends had this entrée. They both liked the dish, it was creamy and the added croutons gave the dish a nice textural element. At first I thought the thickness may have been by adding bread, but I read it wrong, and actually the parsnips added the bulk and thickness and the cream rounded it off. I personally found this dish too sweet. But all around it was a good dish.









Carpaccio de boeuf mariné, crémeux de brebis et emulsion de poireaux (Carpaccio marinated beef, sheep cheese and creamy leek emulsion).  This was a very attractive dish I must say, but it wasn't at all what I was expecting.  First of all, the beef was very marbled. The first thought that came to mind, "wagyu beef"which is now locally produced in France, I should have asked, but I'm pretty certain it was. And, the beef slices were not paper thin as characteristic of "Italian carpaccio", none-the-less the dish was very innovative with thin slices of radishes and zucchini. It was definitely thinking outside of the box, and I really enjoyed it.


PLATS

Fricassée de poulet jaune fermier et petits légumes de saison, (Yellow farmed chicken fricassee and seasonal vegetables).  At first glance when I saw the menu, I thought they meant "jeune", which is "young", but no, it was not a typo, it referred to a yellow chicken.  This was our least favorite dish. Although the chicken was moist, it was just very ordinary. In other words, it did not wow us.  However, my friend did love the potatoes.







Pigeon roti entier et foie foie gras poêlé (Whole roasted pigeon with foie gras).  I was asked whether I wanted this dish pink or a little more cooked. I asked for pink. I loved this dish, the pigeon was perfectly cooked and the accompanying demi-glace sauce was a great accompaniment. It's rich, but not in the sense of creamy rich, but more developed richness.  I was worried that the foie gas might've been tough or overcooked, but it was perfect. Overall, a truly flavorful delicious dish. In fact, this was my favorite of the three plats we had.


Quasi de veau fermier, gratin de macaroni, condiments charcutière, (Range veal, gratin of macaroni, butcher condiments).   It was a very whimsically plated dish.  The veal sat atop a very neatly arranged grouping of macaroni. Sometimes beef/veal can be served a bit too rare for my liking, but this veal was cooked perfectly, moist and perfectly pink. Who knew a mac & cheese could be served so constructed and taste good. Overall, a very good, well composed dish.







DESSERTS


Soufflé au grand marnier, (Grand marnier soufflé).  If you order this dish, you have to order it at the beginning of the meal, since as we well know, it takes some time and has to be served immediately or the soufflé will deflate.  I had a little taste of it. The soufflé was perfectly cooked. Extremely light and airy and with the distinctive grand marnier flavor. A hit with the group.








Brebis cheese, (Sheep cheese).  I literally had a big thin slice of sheep cheese. This is one of my all time favorite cheeses, since it's aged and as a result can have bits of saltiness, which I like.  It was served with a "confiture", but I ate as is. Like I always say, you really can't go wrong with cheese in France.










WINES

We had a bottle of Sancere Paul Prieur et fils 2015 white.  Sancere from the Loire valley white or rosé are probably my all time favorite wines in France.  It's a drier wine with acidity. In fact, it might be too dry for some people. It goes great with seafood, salads and vegetables. Personally, I like it with everything.














SUMMARY

This restaurant has been around a long time, and it appears to be a favorite among Parisians. Technically, I did not find any fault in any of the dishes other than personal preferences. Platings were simple, but cohesive and tight.  In fact, my criticisms are based on my personal taste. I do not like sweet in any savory dish, which I found in the soup. And, although the chicken dish was perfectly cooked, it was missing an "ompf" factor, it was underwhelming.  The veal was whimsically plated and perfectly cooked. My favorite was the roast pigeon. The dark meat of the pigeon was extremely flavorful on its own, but the added sauce and foie gras brought it to a whole new level.  As for the soufflé, what can I say, they cooked it perfectly, no complaints. And, let's not forget about the service, it was excellent.  The wait staff were perfectly attentive to our needs.  Would I go back? absolutely, even though it's off-the-beaten-path and clear across town for me.

With 3-entrées, 3-plats, 3-desserts, 1-bottle of Sancerre, and 1-tea our bill came to 167€, or 55.66€ each. A bit high for lunch, but we did have a nice bottle of wine, which bumped up our overall price.









Thursday, March 17, 2016

Salt -- Restaurant Review


6 Rue Rochebrune, 75011 Paris
Metro: Line 9 Saint Ambroise
Tel + 33 (0) 1 73 71 56 98
Closed: Sundays and Mondays 

Website:  http://www.salt-restaurant.com/contact/


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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

4 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell


At the recommendation of our good friend, a group of 8 of us, large by Parisian standards, went to a restaurant in the 11eme arrondissement. It's not a large restaurant, but cute, lively and homey. We were warmly greeted by our host, Abigail (Abbey) who is from Sydney, Australia and also one of the owners.  Normally I do a little research before trying out a new restaurant, but unfortunately I didn't have the time, so through Abbey I learned quite a bit about this restaurant. It opened in July of last year.  It's a restaurant owned and run by Anglos from the UK as well as Australia, imagine that.  The Chef de Cuisine is Daniel Morgan, a native of Sheffield in the UK.  I later learned that he spent time in the kitchens of "The Square" in London,  the world renowned "Noma" in Copenhagen, as well as "Narisawa", which can be seen in his cooking style, which I'll explain later. And, to assist him is Sous-Chef Liam Sweeney.



As many of you know I love restaurants where I can actually see the kitchen. For me a well run clean kitchen is always a good sign of good food to come. I was amazed at the number of kitchen staff they had, I saw 5 at one time. The kitchen is ample, but not large by any means.

We perused the menu, and they had quite the selection. I've been told that their specialty is seafood, although they did have some meat dishes to please the carnivores in the group.





Abbey's enthusiasm discussing each dish was infectious. As a result, we also became enthusiastic and couldn't wait to taste what she described. Since we were a large group and many ordered varying dishes, I was only able to taste the dishes at our end of the table.









ENTRÉES

Our table decided to order each, Joues de lotte panée à la bière, mayonnaise au vadouvan (Monkfish cheeks breaded with beer, mayonnaise Vadouvan) and, Tarama, fenouil glacé, (Tarama, glazed fennel) to be shared.

As is known, monkfish is the "poor man's lobster."  Monkfish can be extremely rubbery if overcooked, but this was nicely cooked. Although an OK dish, this was my least favorite. It was a bit greasy and not as crispy as one would imagine, And, the mayonnaise didn't' help, it just made it seem oilier. The dish was very one-dimensional and I think maybe adding citrus such as a lemon or lime wedge may have helped this dish and balanced some of the greasiness.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the tarama. Tarama is of Greek and Turkish origin and is made from fish roe such as cod, carp, salmon, or grey mullet. And, can easily be purchased at supermarkets throughout France, and are typically served on blinis. This entrée is not for everyone because this dish has a distinctly strong fish flavor, which I happen to like.  Spreading the tamara on a slice of baguette, topping it with some shaved fennel elevated the dish to make it a nice appetizer. The Chef did not shy away from this bold flavor, probably from having worked in Japan.


Asperges vertes Francaises, puree de jaune d'oeuf, anguille fumée, cresson,  (French green asparagus, mashed egg yolk, smoked eel, watercress).  This may have looked like a really simple dish, but it's deceiving. The asparagus was perfectly cooked, but what brought this dish to the next level was definitely the smoked eel.  Wow, this dish packed a punch of varying flavors. The eel's unexpected smokiness was such a nice compliment.  Poached eggs are commonly served over asparagus, but this was accompanied by a smooth spooned out egg salad. Overall, we loved this dish. Again, you can definitely see the Japanese influence in this dish.



Maquereau au barbecue, sauce au lait battu, concombre, ciboulette, (Mackerel BBQ Sauce buttermilk, cucumber, chives).  Europeans have a different sense of what bbq is than Americans. I wouldn't exactly call this bbq, other than it was grilled and basted with a sweet sauce to caramelize it. Regardless, the mackerel was delicious. And, the juxtaposition of the fish with the cream and with the cool distinct crispiness of the cucumber really made it a well composed dish.







PLATS



Gigot d'agneau et ventreche frite, ail grille, pignons de pin, blettes, artichaut, asperge blanche, (Leg of lamb and fried lamb belly, garlic toast, pine nuts, Chinese cabbage, artichokes, white asparagus).  Aside from the "côte de boeuf", this was the only other meat dish in the menu. The lamb was perfectly cooked, pink and moist, and the "ying-yang" of this dish was the crispy lamb stomach served along side. It was beautifully fried and not at all greasy.  Although there seems to be a lot of elements to the dish, the sides were very complimentary. Overall, a well composed dish.


Sole entiere, beurre au levain, écrasé de courge butternut. (Whole sole, sourdough butter, mashed butternut squash).  I ordered this dish and have to say, this was the star attraction.  This is the whole fish, head, bones, fins and all. So, if you're not familiar with eating a whole fish then I would say, this dish is not for you.

If I were blind-folded and didn't know any better, I would've guessed we were at a high end Asian restaurant. To me, there was nothing French about the dish. For some the fish could've been cooked a little longer. The outer flesh was cooked perfectly, but as you got closer to the bones, it was a bit rare. The sauce was definitely asian in influence. It had a nice sweet and earthy taste about it, and with the topping of nuts gave another textural and taste bonus. The butternut squash was perfectly cooked and delicious. I have just one minor complaint about this dish. I don't like dishes where they plop greens to add color. It's like an after thought, especially when served in bundles like that. But I overlooked this platting mishap because of the absolutely wonderful flavors of this dish.

DESSERTS

Flan aux olives noires, avoine toasté au miel, orange sanguine (Flan with black olives, toasted oats with honey, blood orange).  When we read the description of this dessert, we thought, this sounds really interesting and weird, so of course we had to order it.  It's a pretty dish with edible flowers and a hint of the orange juice at the edges.  Taste wise, we tasted absolutely nothing olive about this dessert. If anything, it was very fruity, and very refreshing. Overall, it was a nice sweet, refreshing dish.




Vacherin Mont D'or fermier (soft cow's milk cheese).  And, as usual, I ordered the cheese. This is one of my favorite cheeses, they're available through France. It's a cheese that's baked quickly at hot temperature and usually served with raw apples.  It's not a strong cheese, but it has a nice warm soothing flavor of a creamy cheese, in fact if I were to use a comparison, it's like a warmed brie. It was served with a nice crunchy nutty bread with a compote of sweet apples.




SUMMARY

What another great find. The Chef has quite the resumé. When I saw that he worked at Noma, hmmm?  Although I do like "molecular gastronomy" and it has its place, I'm just glad that Chef Morgan did not go in that direction with this restaurant. This was wholesome good food, and definitely with a strong Asian influence, probably from his stint in Japan.  It's interesting to go to a restaurant where the owners and staff are "Anglos", but I think that's great. The injection of foreign influence in the Paris food scene has done wonders to evolve French cuisine.  The staff is warm and inviting. It does, however, get noisey in the restaurant once it fills up.  Although, their strength is in preparing and cooking seafood, they do have a few meat dishes for meat lovers.  The menu does change depending upon the season and what's available. I have only 2-complaints, the monkfish cheeks were not as crispy as one would expect and a bit too greasy for me which can easily be remedied, and it could've used some much needed citrus to balance it out.  Lastly a minor complaint, the plating of the whole sole by plopping bunches of greens is very 1980's. Had they spread out the greens and topped it with the fish, it may have been a better alternative.  Would we go back, ABSOLUTELY. I didn't get a chance to taste the other dishes.


With 11-entrées, 8-plats, 7-desserts, 1 cheese plate, 5-bottles of wine, 2 coffees, our bill came to 507€ or a little over 63€ per person. Note: average prices for the meals are reasonable, but we did have some good wines.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Plume -- Restaurant Review


24 Rue Pierre Leroux
75007 Paris
Tel: 01 43 06 79 85
Bus: 89, Metro: Vaneau (10) & Duroc (10&13)
Closed: Sundays & Mondays 


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 (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

2 - Star......................................................€€ ......................................................... 2.5 - Bell


This restaurant newly opened about 2-months ago. There's a lot of hype from the local media (e.g., Le Fooding), so our good friend J suggested we go.  The restaurant is in the 7eme, a very posh area of Paris.  As you entered the restaurant you notice that it's quite small, very tight, but not uncomfortable.  There are 20 seats, not including a high table to the right as you entered that had a very tall table, almost like a tall bistro table for two.



At first impression the wait staff were very attentive, they took our jackets and asked us what we wanted to drink. Foregoing aperitifs, we ordered our usual one bottle each of white and a red. We perused the menu, and they had a very reasonable prix fixe menu as well as their à la carte menu.



All the restaurants I have been to since the start of 2016 gave us an amuse bouche, so I thought it interesting that they did not provide an amuse bouche, but that's OK, it was just something I noted.

JJ and I decided to get the prix fixe menu, whereas our friend J went à la carte menu.

ENTRÉES

Voluté de champaignons rosés, (Cream of chestnut mushrooms).  We all got this dish. J did note that there were hints of truffles in the soup. Interesting, none of us at the table really care for truffles, but despite the inclusion of the truffles we found the dish just ordinary. It was creamy, had good flavoring, and with the 3-added croutons it gave a nice textural element, But again, just seemed ordinary and did not wow any of us.








PLATS

Lieu noir, flower-sprout et beurre d'estragon, ("Coal fish" (pollack), flower-sprout and tarragon butter).  JJ and I had this dish. The fish was perfectly cooked. The skin was crispy and the flesh was extremely moist. That's where it ends, there's a saying in French, "C'est fade" meaning it's bland. When I say bland it was painfully under-seasoned. Thank God the wait person gave us some "sel de mer" coarse sea salt.  The greens, which we assumed to be baby kale, on it's own had more flavor than the fish. We were very underwhelmed by this dish.


Margret de canard, topinambours, blettes de couleurs et airelles, (Duck breast, artichokes, chard  and cranberries).  J ordered this dish.  It was a nicely presented dish. I took a bite of the end piece and we both agreed it was over-cooked, almost tough, but as we got closer to the center it was more medium rare.  I suppose the cut of the breast which was a bit uneven resulted in an uneven cook. Despite that it was tasty. I did, however, find the artichokes a bit rubbery. Again, a good passable dish, minus the tough ends of the duck.






DESSERTS


Ananas roti, chèvre frais au citron vert, ( Roasted pineapple, fresh goat cream and lime).  Cheese with lime? JJ was not too happy with this dish despite liking cheese and liking citrus.  A bad combination.  The roasted pineapple also was not endearing. 
















Tanzania 75% et fruits de la passion, (Tanzania chocolate 75% cocoa and passion fruit).  This was probably the highlight of all our meal. The passion fruit ice cream with the chocolate mousse was a nice combination. The passion fruit had imparted a nice tart flavor and the chocolate mouse had a nice strong bitter-sweet chocolate taste which is characteristic of high content cocoa desserts. And, the crumble added a ice textural element to the dish. So, this was our saving dish of the day.





Vielle mimolette 24 mois, (Mimolette cheese aged for 24 months). Like I always say, you can never go wrong with cheese in France. This was a nice aged cheese. As cheese ages, salt crystals form and that's the part of what I love most about aged cheeses. It came with an  accompaniment of an apple compote.









SUMMARY

This restaurant has been written up as the new upcoming star to watch. Well like I always say, taste is subjective. We unanimously disagreed with the recent brouhaha about this restaurant. The restaurant is cute enough and the noise levels fluctuated between 70.9dB and 76dB, which is acceptable. The service started out great, but then it faltered. First of all, when we ordered our red wine, not only did the server not give any of us a chance to taste the wine, he poured a full glass for JJ and left???? Having lived in Paris since 2008 I have to say that was a first for any of us, and the WEIRDEST experience ever. The French take such great pride in their wines, and to not allow us to taste it first, this act was almost treasonous. Secondly, after we finished our main courses we asked to get the menu back so we could look at the desserts, our wait person said OK, put on her jacket and left the restaurant to have a cigarette and/or make a phone call? We of course had to wait until she finished her cigarette but still had to ask the other waiter to bring us the menu???? The service staff in the restaurant are pleasant enough, but really?

Now onto the food. The prices are reasonable and they have a nice selection of wines (JJ wouldn't know since his clipboard menu did not include the list). But the food was very underwhelming. The soup was ordinary, but it was tasty.  And, although the fish was cooked perfectly, I can only describe it in one word, 'BLAND.' The duck was unevenly cooked. The saving grace for this whole meal was the chocolate and passion fruit.



We had two bottles of wine; a red Terra Lisa 2013, and a white Eric Chevalier les 3 bois. The red was a nice light bio red wine with more rounded edges, whereas the white was also light, but much dryer.  With two prix-fixe menus, one a la carte of 3-courses, and one coffee our meal came to 138€ for 3-people. I personally would not go back.