Friday, May 18, 2007

French Food

Sat 13 May 2007

Yes, it's been a very long time since my last post: far too much work, gastronomy and holiday excitement. Well, the only real excitement was the holiday ...

Andy and I tottered off for 5 days in Paris: catching up with a university friend for me and a first time visit for Andy. I had started making lists and lists of food and wine related places to go, things to do, things to see and most of this went out the window when we arrived.

And this is about our first meal in Paris - but with a difference. I'm not going to tell you the name or location of the restaurant. This is because it's a very small restaurant in a very touristy area (near Place Saint-Michel) but it's not a very touristy restaurant. It also doesn't really need any extra business that (I flatter myself!) may come its way through this review. If you really really want to know, email me and I'll pass on the details!

We were a group of four and we crowded into the restaurant. The menu is all in French and is a set €19 for three courses. The menu is brief and some dishes do require you to pay a supplement (for example, an addition €3 for the foie gras de canard). While munching on the great bread (such a change from some of the truly rubbish bread you get in restaurants in the UK) we made our selection. Three of us started with the foie gras de canard, and one opted for the terrine de raie (that's just ray or skate in English). The dishes all looked quite small, which is very deceptive with rich food, and presentation was very simple. The foie gras was delicious (even if we were slumming it with only duck and not goose) and served with toast, some lettuce and tomato.

For main course I opted for the beef because I think that the French cook the best steak ever. The best steak I've ever eaten was in Reims and this was, again, very close to the mark. I don't know why English restaurants and pubs, as a rule, can't get cooking a steak right. The meat was a big, rough chunk, hot all the way through, jelly like and wobbly in the middle, tasty and tender. Sigh. It was served with the most delicious saute potatoes and a simple salad with the most delicious vinaigrette. Three of us had the steak, and one person opted for the duck confit, which I am assured was also delicious.

Finally ... on to pudding. One île flottante, two sublime chocolat and one cheese platter. Again - very very simple presentation, but by golly the sublime chocolat was good. It was a single slice of half way between chocolate mousse and solid chocolate chocolatey goodness. By this stage we'd finished our bottle of very good 1999 bordeaux (outrageously priced at just €18!) and were on to coffees.

The whole experience was fantastic. The staff were friendly (if rather brisk!) and the restaurant is clearly a favourite with locals, as there was not much English at all being spoken. That shouldn't put you off: the staff switched between French and English for us quite happily. We didn (of course) make an effort to speak French and we didn't need a lot of translation help on the menu.

A lovely start to five days away.


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