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)!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Les Poulettes-Batignolles -- Restaurant review


10, Rue de Chéroy
75017 Paris
Tel: 01-42-93-10-11
Website:  wwwlespoulettes-batignolles.fr
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+)

  3.75 - Star...............................................................€€........................................................... 4 - Bell

Friends of ours recently discovered this restaurant that's only been open since March, and insisted we go with them "a tout de suite" before it becomes popular and booking will become impossible. As you can see from the photo, in the right section of the restaurant the doors are nice and open to the bar, which would've been the area we would've preferred to dine; unfortunately, they were booked. So we sat on the left side where the window was closed and only the top portion open for ventilation. Needless to say I was thankful I brought my fan, because it was a bit stuffy especially on a warm muggy night!

The interior




We were early so we perused the menus. Oddly enough, no one came to ask us if we'd like something to drink while we were waiting, not even water. In fact, as our friends showed up, they still didn't ask us if we wanted something to drink and I was very thirsty, so after a few minutes I had to finally flag them down. Once the wait person came, she could've been more pleasant.  We started with the most fabulous sauvignon blanc that I've ever had. It had a nice light fruity flavor, but not sweet, and had a nice roundness that really quenched your thirst and want you coming back for more. Ok, so this wine was a hit with all of us!  Even JJ, who never drinks white wine, thought it was very good.






ENTRÉES

For our first course one of us had the "Tarte sablé asperges vertes, confit de tomates au lard et vieux parmesan" (Shortbread tart green asparagus, tomato confit with bacon and aged parmesan). This was a very well composed dish. The asparagus with the shortbread gave it 2-nice textures to compliment each other. And the confit of tomatoes just added another nice level of coolness and a bit of acid. Good first course.  Unbelievably, this is the one dish I forgot to take a photo of. But believe me, it was a beautifully composed and delicious dish.



Two us had the "Tartare de dorade en ceviche, avocat et pickle d'oignons" (Tartare of sea bream ceviche, avocado and pickled onions).  This was a wonderful summer dish. It's a cold dish of ceviche and thinly shaved avocados adorning it, and a thin slice of toast. It would've been perfect; however, it was extremely under-seasoned. It lacked the basics, salt and pepper. Once I added it to the dish, then it was perfect. As all Chefs tell their students, always taste for seasoning, which usually means salt and pepper. Methinks he forgot this important lesson in this situation.


Lastly we had the "Burrata et gaspacho, melon et tomate" (Burrata and gazpacho, melon and tomato).  I have to say that this was my favorite entrée, maybe because it was a hot and muggy night and it was refreshing. It truly was delicious. The fruity soup combined with the burrata cheese, it was like eating a cooled, slighty sweet dessert, without all that cream and heaviness. So, in my book this dish was a success!

PLATS

How original, three of us got the "Presa de cochon iberíque, à  l'orange" (Presa Iberian pig, orange).  When we first ordered, the wait-person asked my companion how she would like her pork cooked, and she replied rosé (pink). I was a bit shocked, so when it was my turn I said I want it cooked a "point" medium. Then she and I got into a discussion why you can eat this particular pork pink. Apparently it's been treated with salt, free ranged and the butchering process does not have all that cross contamination, hence there is no scare of trichinosis, who knew?  Therefore you can eat pork slightly pink.  So I changed my order to "rosé", best decision I made of the night.  For a French pork dish it was not at all salty. The meat just melted in your mouth. It was absolutely delicious. I actually could've had more!


To be different JJ had the "Risotto d'encornet a la provencale et chistorra" (Squid risotto and a provencal chistorra"). I tasted this dish and it was excellent. The risotto still had a little bite to it and the squid was cooked perfectly.  I probably would've enjoyed it more if I had it served in winter. Overall it was a wonderful rich flavored dish!



DESSERTS

Two shared the "Ganache chocolat, pain, huile d'olive et fleur de sel" (Chocolate olive oil and fleur de sel ganache, bread).  I know that ganache "seule" exists, but I always associate it with fillings, or frosting, and not normally the star attraction of a dessert, since it tends to be too rich.  But this particular ganache was light and airy. They whipped alot of air and cream into it to give a more mousse like texture. Net-net, it was a good dessert, albeit, not something I'd order!









JJ got the "Riz au lait vanillé, confiture "dulce de leche" (Vanilla rice milk jam "dulce de leche").  Basically, it was rice pudding with tiny chocolate bonbons sitting atop. The dessert was OK, but I found it too heavy and rich for a warm muggy evening.  JJ licked the plate.







And, I got the cheese dish "Rocamadour fermier de chez maman Dubois au miel de corse"  (Farmer Rocamadour home mom Dubois Corsican honey). It is simply goat cheese drizzled with honey. My perfect kind of cheese for a warm, muggy evening. It was light and creamy and a wonderful palate cleanser.


SUMMARY:

The restaurant Chef is Parisian, his wife who is at the front of the house is from Barcelona and is Catalan. His mother owns a Cheese shop nearby, so he gets all his cheeses from her. They let you know that their breads also come from Chez Léonie, which I have to say was absolutely wonderful!  

It was a slow, slow start, but once they got into a rhythm we were treated very nicely. I highly recommend if you go there during the summer months to ask for a table by the bar where it's open and a breeze exists. We had no breeze, so I'm thankful I brought a hand-fan.  Overall the food was very good, I had a couple of issues with their seasoning.  The noise level in the room we were at was extremely bad. Once it was filled, we could barely hear one another.



For 4 people, and a bottle of Sauvignon for apéros, a pastis, a bottle of red, a glass of white, and a glass of armagnac and 2 coffees our bill came to 152€ which was already discounted 30% because we made our reservations on La Fourchette. It was a damn good price for 4-people.

Would I come back, porquoi pas?



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Les Grandes Bouches -- Restaurant Review


78 Rue de Lévis, 75017 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 43 80 40 36
Metro: Villiers (Lines 2 or 3)

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

A good friend of mine from my old Berkeley days came to visit Paris and was staying in the 17eme. I am not familiar with restaurants in that area, but decided it would be best to eat in that arrondissment since she just arrived and rather than schlepping around Paris on the metro she could easily walk back to her hotel. I came across this restaurant, it's really quite cute very cozy and in a great location of the 17eme.  We got the private room to the left of the above picture, but the main room itself was quite lovely and cozy and very open. Surprisingly, it wasn't a very busy night.





We perused the menu. They had a pre-fix. They had quite a nice selection. The pre-fix dinner of all 3-courses was 42€.
















As we continue perusing the menu, we received some nice appetizers of tapenade and toasted crackers, and some paté of poultry.  The tapenade was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. Same was true for the paté, but they were a nice treat and a good start.












ENTRÉES:


My friend got the Fleur de courgette, brocciu, olives de kalamata, "Zucchini flower, brocciu, kalamata olives".  The brocciu was a Corsican chèvre cheese.  The presentation was absolutely gorgeous! It was a cold dish where the flower was stuffed with the cheese surrounded by delicious cubed zucchini. Since it was a warm night, I found this dish to be so wonderfully refreshing!  This dish was a hit.



I had the Tartare de homard, riz cremeux condiment a la mandarine japonaise, "lobster tartare, creamy rice and a condiment Japanese mandarin". There wasn't alot of the lobster tartare, but what was there was delicious. The creamy rice was actually like a formed risotto. It was cold dish. The rice was still a little bit al-dente, which I liked alot. Another good dish.




Finally, JJ got the Carpaccio de tete de veau au boluts, "Carpaccio of veal head and snails". This was my favorite entrée of the lot. The veals head was delicious and the snails added a nice sort of ying-yang to the dish. The herbs were delicious, it had some tartness, which gave the dish a nice balance. Great dish!





PLATS:

Two of us had the Ris d'agneau en navarin de printemps, jus safrané, "Lamb sweetbreads with spring saffron juice".  This was a nice simple dish with lots of vegetables. Unusual for most Parisian restaurants, meaning that there was alot of vegetables. The sweetbreads were lightly fried and sat atop turnips sweet pea pods, mushrooms and green peas that still had some crunchiness and was not overcooked. I liked the dish, sweetbread was very moist.  The dish was good and well executed.



Lastly, my friend had the Lotte rotie au beurre d'agrumes, artichaut, courgette, condiment bigarrade coriandre, "Roasted monkfish with citrus butter, artichoke, zucchini, cilantro". This was an excellent dish. I loved the moistness of the fish with the accompanying vegetables that till had a nice crunch to it. Oftentimes, vegetables are overcooked and limp, but these were perfectly cooked. The cilantro cream was a nice touch. Another well executed dish that hit the mark.

NOTE: The plats were a tad bit on the salty side for my taste, but oftentimes in France, they not only use the salt as salt, but also as a flavoring agent. None-the-less the dishes were delicious!

DESSERT:

I was already full and did not have my proverbial cheese plate, but the two ordered a rhubarb gateau to share. Both loved the dish. Underneath the flat sweet cake was a melange of rhubarb and strawberries and cherries. The dish was perfect, not too sweet so you could taste the different elements of the fruit. Another hit!







Lastly, we did get a few petit fours on the house as a nice surprise. They weren't anything special and consisted of different types of meringue and sablé, a kind of butter crust cooke.  None-the-less, it was a nice ending to a fabulous meal.  





SUMMARY:

What an excellent find in the 17eme.  I'm surprised it wasn't very busy at all. It's definitely a gem that needs to be discovered. The "freebies" were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. The entreés, plats and dessert were definitely above average. The atmosphere was lovely, and if you want a more intimate room with an open feel, ask for that side room.  And, the service was EXCELLENT.  I would go more often, but it's clear across town from us, but it is worth the trip.

With a bottle of Saint Estephe and half a bottle of Fuilly the bill came to 187€ for 3-people.

NOTE:  From what I've read, it appears ALL the food is made on the premise, which is always a good thing. Many restaurants in Paris have small kitchens and rely on bringing some dishes in, such as e.g., desserts!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Le Vraymonde -- Restaurant Review


4, rue d'Anjou
75008
Tel: 1 83 96 88 70
Metro:  Line #1 Concorde
Website:  http://www.buddhabarhotelparis.com/uk/buddhabarhotelparis-official-site.php#buddhabarhotelparis-official-site.php

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+)

  1.5 - Star...............................................................€€€........................................................... 2 - Bell

We love to explore, so a friend selected this restaurant "Le Raymonde" which is part of the International "Buddha Bar" hotel chain that includes bars and restaurants. I usually don't like eating in hotels because I find them too "artificial"and generic.  Don't get me wrong, some of them can be extremely beautiful, classic, and decorated to the 9's, but I for one am one of those types that like to explore neighborhood restaurants.

No doubt about it, the hotel is beautiful. As you entered the red lights, and the Asian theme are undeniable. It almost feels like what Old Shanghai was like in the 40's, almost half expectedly waiting to see an opium den. We were seated in the terrace since it was a beautiful mild Spring day.


As we waited for our friend we had some aperitifs and perused the menu. The menu was quite pricey, but they did have a "pre-fix" lunch special which you could have all 2-courses for 29€ (entrée, plat) or add a dessert and it will cost you 39€, which seemed reasonable. We also perused the wine menu, quite extensive, and also very, very pricey.



ENTRÉE:

Two of us got the Rouleaux de printemps aux petits légumes, sauce soja sucrée (Spring rolls with vegetables, and sweet soy sauce).  In French, the word that comes to mind is "fade" (bland), this had to have been the most boring, blandest fresh spring roll I have ever, ever tasted in my life. It was presented beautifully, but the sweet soy sauce was not complimentary at all, and the accompanied cabbage mixed salad had absolutely nothing on it, that I could discern.  It tasted like I opened a pre-mix bag of cole slaw mix eaten right out of the plastic bag. I finally had no choice but asked for some hot sauce, which I'm pretty sure was sriracha. Thank God for sriracha, it was the saving grace to an otherwise bland, boring dish. I think just adding some ginger would've improved that sauce tremendously.



One person got the Gaspacho de légumes verts (Cold gazpacho soup made of green vegetables). Anything cold, you have to have a little heavy hand with the spices.  Again, "fade", "fade", "fade". It was edible, but you really needed to add pepper. Our friend added sriracha as well to give it some semblance of something other than green glob.  Plus, I might be a little nit-picky, but they really should have strained the soup (broth portion) to give a more smooth consistency.  I couldn't discern if I was eating a piece of vegetable or if it was just not blended well.


PLATS:

I had the Pressées de canard, pommes grenaille et jus de canard (Pressed duck with apples and duck jus). The presentation was beautiful. It was encased in a leek. One person thought it was inedible, while I thought it tasted like "pulled pork" and I wanted so desperately to put it in a bun with barbecue sauce and call it a day. So for me it would've been passible in a sandwich. The potatoes were good.  After douching the duck with some soy and sriracha and pretending it was BBQ sauce, I was able to eat it.


One person had the Filets de rougets sautés, caviar d'aubergine (Red mullet fillets sautéed eggplant caviar). Surprisingly the fish was actually good, and was cooked perfect to my liking. But the mushed up eggplant that the fish sat atop was disgusting. I really disliked it alot.  It was not only bland, but it was visually not appealing. It looked like gray matter.




Lastly our friend had the Curry de veau, riz madras (Curried veal, with madras rice).  OK, you've noticed I've been using the word "fade" alot, oh-my-god, this was quadruple "fade". I tasted absolutely no curry. Actually, I tasted no spice. All I tasted was a thick yellow glob with meat. Our friend had to literally douse it with sriracha to give it any semblance of a madras dish. Horrible!







Lastly, we had a cheese plate rather than a dessert. After eating the food, I'm glad we did not order the desserts. I can only imagine what it would've tasted like. The cheese plate had a nice variety and was nicely presented.  The cheese plate, the bread and butter and wine were our saving grace.








SUMMARY:

I don't normally like Asian food cooked by Europeans who don't make an attempt to keep some of the characteristics of the original dish. Granted, I want them to put their own twist and personality into their food, but to lose its soul and identity is unforgivable.  I've known many an Asian Chefs in Paris who've added their Asian sensibilities to French cuisine, and it has been some of the best food I've ever tasted. I just wish they would get it right at the Buddha Bar, since that is their signature/identity. Oh well.

The service was excellent.  The terrace is lovely. The indoor restaurant is very nicely decorated and has a very warm feeling.  The "looping music" they had playing was a bit noisy and annoying, but I think that's to attract a younger crowd.  Will I go back for the food? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But I may go back for wine or cocktails, since that's what they're known for.



And, the price point was absolutely insulting. For 4-glasses of wine, plus a bottle of Samur Champigny, a half-bottle of Sancere, and 2-coffees with the menu our bill came to a ridiculous 215€ for 3-people!

Lesson learned, 'BEAUTY IS SKIN DEEP' and it applies to food as well.



Saturday, May 31, 2014

Le Court-Bouillon -- Restaurant Review


51, Rue du Théâtre, 75015
tel: 01 45 77 08 18
Closed: Lunch Saturday, Sunday and Monday
Website: http://www.lecourtbouillon.com/
Metro: Line 6 Dupleix
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+)

  3.5 - Star...............................................................€€€........................................................... 4 - Bell


We have friends that wanted to come into the city for dinner. They mentioned that we could either go to one of our favorite haunts or try something new.  I opted for something new since I was in exploratory mood. I found this restaurant which is not far from where we live.  As we entered, it felt really cozy. We were warmly greeted by the Maitre d' and immediately sat at our table.



As our friends arrived, we ordered an apéritif of 3-coupes de champagne and a martini blanc.  As we were enjoying our apéritif we perused the menu.  They had a pre-fix menu for 45€ for an entrée, plat and dessert, higher than the average meal price in Paris.  And, if you order à la carte and made the reservations through "la fourchette" you got an additional 20% discount.



As an amuse bouche with out apéros they brought out some "gougères"; they were a bit on the dry side but none-the-less they were good.
We decided to order à la carte. They then brought out a second amuse bouche of a crab with mayonnaise over a layer of avocados. It was good, but I found the amuse bouche had a bit too much mayonnaise for me, while JJ liked it.







We opted not to have an entrée.  Three of us got the Bouillabaisse at 39€ each and one person got the veal.  I hadn't had Bouillabaisse in a while and I was really in the mood for it.  We all agreed the bouillabaisse was delicious. There were various types of fish. It was served in a cream base. It had a very nice "bisque" style flavor. The fish was cooked perfectly and was accompanied by extra broth with a dollop of flavored mayonaise. And, despite there being an absence of any shellfish, we didn't miss it cause the flavors carried themselves.  This dish was a hit!




One person ordered the veal. She said it was tender, cooked perfectly and a well balanced delicious dish. One outstanding feature of the dish is that typically French like their vegetables well cooked. In this case, they cooked it perfectly. It still retained some crunch!







One person ordered the dessert of the day which was a crumble of pear and a dollop of ice cream. Our friend commented that it was really, really sweet and not a typical crumble. I had a little taste of the crumble and it turned out to be a "sablé" (buttered pastry), which can lend itself to being a bit dry. It was indeed very sweet. It was just an OK dessert, nothing outstanding.










Three of us had the cheese of the evening which was a St. Marcellin. This particular cheese was aged, but it was creamy and rich. We enjoyed it.









Overall, we thought the food was very good, albeit a bit on the pricey side. Although cozy and nicely decorated, it does get surprisingly noisy with a full house. The 2-main dishes of bouillabaisse and the veal were both a hit. The service was EXCELLENT. The atmosphere was great!







With a 3-coupes de champagne, 1-martini blanc, 2-glasses of sancere and a bottle of Chateau Briand 2009 our bill came to 264€.  For the price-point it is a bit pricey, but we would go back, afterall it's in our neighborhood!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Restaurant DIX-HUIT -- Restaurant Review

18, rue Bayen, 75017
TEL: +33 1 53 81 79 77
SUBWAY: Ternes
dix-huit.fr
OPENING HOURS: De midi à 14h30 (sauf samedi) et de 19h30 à 23h. Fermé dimanche
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+)

  4.2 - Star...............................................................€€............................................................4 - Bell


I've heard so much of this restaurant and we finally had an opportunity to go for lunch. It's in a great location and not far from the Arc de Triomphe. As you enter the restaurant it has a nice inviting feel. There is a sun room and also a dining area which is less "bright".  At dinner, the brightness wouldn't matter.


It was a bit noisy in the sunroom area since the sounds reverberated back from the glass ceiling. But I found the room quite lovely and enjoyable.

We perused the menu, and they had a prefix menu as well as a la carte.


The Chef, Aron Isip is a native of the Philippines and has worked at Apicius , Ze Kitchen Gallery, Pan .... He brings a Filipino/Asian influence to some of his dishes along with his extensive French cooking skills and knowledge. A wonderful fusion of tastes.

We all opted to do the formule, which was a great deal. For an entrée-plat or plat-dessert it was 19€ and for entrée-plat-dessert would be 24€. This was extremely reasonable.

We all opted for the formule.

ENTRÉE:


We all had the  Poulpe/ Chorizo de boeuf wagyu/ sauce curry Noir a l’encre de seiche (Octopus / Chorizo ​​wagyu beef / curry sauce Black squid ink).  Oh my God, we all loved this dish, the juxtaposition of the different flavors were so complimentary and just incredible. The Squid was topped with pickled gingers, there were dabs of squid ink, and an herb of dill.  It had charred grilled green onion that brought it to next level. If no one was around, I would've licked that plate.



PLATS:

Lentilles noires béluga / Effiloché d'agneau de lait confit/ émulsion cacahuète (Black beluga lentils / Frayed of lamb confit / peanut emulsion).  I loved, loved this dish. The lamb was tender, but kept it shape even though I'm sure it was braised a long time, and the lentils were cooked perfectly. Alot of times lentils are overcooked, so they become very starchy. This was nice because the lentils were cooked al-dente. The curried (turmeric) foam was a nice addition.  Overall, this was an excellent composed dish.


DESSERT:


Abricots confits/ Espuma de fromage blanc (Candied apricots / "Quark Cheese").  This was a very, very simple dessert. It was straight forward, nothing special, a simple apricot with fromage blanc (sort of like yoghurt) and some crumbled buttered crumbs, which I'm guessing was speculoos!






And, as usual I had the cheese. It was a great selection, and alot of it. As I've said before, you can never go wrong with cheese.









SUMMARY:

What a find. The location is excellent, and the place is so inviting. You have a sun room and also a regular dining area. The wait staff are EXTREMELY courteous. The customer service was beyond excellent. Although we spoke French to the staff, they are very comfortable speaking English.  The prices for the formule is EXCELLENT. I can't praise this restaurant enough. Would we go back, absolutely. In fact, we're going there next week for a benefit for the Philippine Typhoon victims week. Bas chapeau to Chef Isip.


With the current positive reviews coming from the French and English speaking reviewers, this will become a difficult place to get into, so make reservations now!

With two bottles of wine pictured above and a glass of cognac, our bill for 3-people came to 136€, a great, great price!

If you are interested in making a donation to help the Typhoon victims, you can send a check written to "Gawad Kalinga Europe" mailed to Francesca Suarez: 32 Rue Popincourt, 75011 Paris - or by CB online at "Paris for the Philippines"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

La Table D'Aligre -- Restaurant Review

La Table D'Aligre
11, Place d'Aligre
75012 Paris
Tel: 01-43-07-84-88
Website:www.tabledalige.com
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+)

  2.5 - Star...........................................................................................................................1 - Bell


This restaurant has been around awhile, and our friend read some fabulous reviews of the restaurant, so we decided to go, “pourquoi pas”?  It was an extremely warm evening. The restaurant was located in the same area as where the d’Aligre market is located.  At first glance it looks like a tiny restaurant, nicely open with a nice open kitchen. In fact, there’s a whole unknown area upstairs with comfortable cushy armchairs with low tables where you can choose to eat, or choose the two long tables they have.  They had their wines displayed nicely.  It was extremely warm upstairs since there is no airconditioning, but nice and private. However, we were all fanning ourselves vigorously with the menu cards or fans; even the people sitting in front of us who had very little breeze from the open windows did the same.



This restaurant is known for their seafood, although they do have one or two meat dishes.  So we all decided to go with the fish.

ENTRÉE:



I had the gazpacho, and I have to say on a warm night it was so refreshing. I’ve had some really bad gazpacho, but I have to say this was delicious, nicely seasoned and chilled perfectly.  Cucumbers in themselves are very refreshing, so I was fortunate that the ratio of cucumber to tomatoes was higher.








 


One ordered the anchovies, although I like salt, I have to say these were some of the strongest anchovies I’ve ever tasted. It was too salty for my liking but he enjoyed them.











A friend had the Moules a la plancha (mussels), I had a taste and thought they were nice. The broth was not too overwhelming and cooked very well.









Another friend had the Moules gratinée, although I didn’t taste it, he said he enjoyed it a lot.






PLATS:




I had the homard (lobster), the small one of course. I have to say, it was a bit overcooked. So, in some respects it was a bit rubbery.  It came with small roasted potatoes, and they were delicious.










My friend had the brochette de lotte (skewered white fish), he said they were good but nothing out of the ordinary, and served with greens and potatoes.













Other friends had the turbot, which was pan roasted whole. They liked it as well, but found it a bit daunting to tackle since it was a whole fish rather than a filet.








Interestingly my description of the dishes aren’t very elaborate nor for that matter very enthusiastic as you can probably tell.  They didn’t really wow us, especially me. It was just good, just average, nothing out of the ordinary. It’s like food you could get at any average seafood place in the U.S., with the exception of being in coastal cities of the US like San Francisco, Seattle or Boston where seafood is cooked perfectly.

While I liked our wait-person, the service was so slow. Even slow by Parisian standards. It probably had to due with the fact that she had to climb the stairs constantly, and I did not see a dumb waiter, so I can’t really fault her, but fault the management staff. 

I liked the restaurant for what it is, but for me the price is a bit high for just OK seafood. In fact, some of us left hungry. We were going to order dessert, but it was already 11:45 and we came in at 9 pm and only had 2-courses?!?.  We figured if we ordered the dessert with the service being as slow as it was, we wouldn’t finish until way after 1 a.m. and, hence, miss our metro. So, some of our friends who lived in walking distance went to an ice-cream parlor afterwards.  

Net-net,  I would not go out of my way to go to this restaurant, but if I’m in the neighborhood and friends want to go, I’ll go. And, probably for lunch since they have a pre-fix priced at 22€.

Our total bill came to 52€ per person for an entrée and plat and sharing 2-bottles of white wine among 6 people.