I went to Clown Bar with a dear friend last night.
Beautiful tiled decor. Indifferent welcome (I am glossing over the haggling to get a table in the front even though the restaurant was half empty.)
We ordered two appetizers.
The first was beignets de bulots, with a spicy mayonnaise. Not overly oily. The taste of the bulots was good, but their texture was off, too rubbery. Sub-par tapas-type item.
The second was an octopus salad. Again, a good, complex taste (the use of holy basil adding a surprising twist) but again too rubbery. Pulpo a la gallega it wasn't.
We ordered a bottle of red. As they were natural wines, I could not recognize any of the names ;-). Normal, extortionate pricing. The waiter steered us towards a syrah-based wine, which was very good. None of the "deviant" aromas I was half-expecting. Beautiful fruit, violets in full display. Served a little warm, he brought back the bottle at the proper temperature.
We ordered an extra appetizer, the first clear success. It was raw "maigre", with cucumber, and crumbled feta (I think). I usually dislike dairy and fish (especially when raw), but the flavors really came together, a great expression of freshness. I need to eat more of this fish.
The mains were better.
A small portion of pigeon, properly cooked, and deliciously gamey.
But especially a pithiviers of duck, a thing of beauty. Great pâte feuilletée, delicious minced meat, perfectly cooked magret at the bottom. And a great deal at €18 (if memory serves). I am a sucker for these bourgeois dishes, a true, singular contribution of French gastronomy to world cuisine in my view. Yes, the chef can cook.
We ordered two desserts, which never came.
Service was cool, and cold. Self-involved, aloof, vaporous even.
Around €112 for two (without the desserts). Which is decent for Paris pricing, but increasingly less so in my view.
Then we went to Aux Deux Amis for dessert. A plate of glorious Spanish ham. I love that place.
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