It's been a while since I've translated one of my blog posts for Chowhound. But having recently discovered the food at Drouant makes me want to share my memories with you hounds.
To some restaurants you go with your words in your pocket. They're not intimidating because of their food, but because of what they represent. Drouant is one of those restaurants, every month the "Académie Goncourt" meets there to discuss the current literary scene, and once a year they elect the famous "Prix Goncourt". So needless to say, this place has seen its fair share of chatterboxes...
Actually, it started pretty bad... or I should say bland. The entrance is lush and loud, but the inside is quietly outdated and yawning. The scattered clientele was comprised of tourists and older folks with a western (parisian) accent. The "new presentation" of the menu, supposed to make it look younger, was strangely naive, kitsch, with the graphic design of a cheap beach house...
But let's get to the point, because once a plate is put in front of you, your critic eye is traded for some taste-buds in turbo mode.
The chef Antoine Westermann cooks mostly traditional french food with sometimes a touch of modernity. As an appetizer you can either choose from dishes comprised of four little "amuse bouche" type plates, or regular sized dishes.
-- Les 4 classiques (the 4 classics) --
A little worried by the decor, I thought I'd trust the "classical" propositions of the chef. And that's where it all started, little by little my rear-end intertwined its curved shape into the chair, time started slowing down, and I understood I was in good hands. The leeks with vinaigrette burst with acid juices, freshness, they enlivened the palate. The duck foie gras with Porto was smooth and fruity. The poultry terrine with hazelnuts, a little more rustic, was happily and rapidly spread on the bread and licked clean. The only drawback was the egg with mayo, drowned under a good deal of mayonnaise which was too mustardy, and just in case the police came in the neighborhood, the offender was hidden under a forest of frisee salad... dispensable.
I have also tasted the "4 fish" and especially an orange and soy marinated sardine which snapped its fingers to a powerful rhythm.
-- Le gigot d'agneau de lait de Lozère rôti (for 2) --
Excellence ensued with this leg of lamb cooked with diabolical precision, pink, juicy, sweet, with a fine caramelized skin, served with seasonal vegetables of irreproachable accuracy : slightly crunchy, different textures, the flavors were only delicate in order to bring the focus to the lamb.
I have also tasted the lamb "daube" with olives and rosemary, with a more macho character than my leg (of lamb I mean...) and the same colored palette of green, yellow and red vegetables.
-- Les 4 grands classiques (the 4 grand classics) --
If the appetizers were "only" classics, then the inclusion of the word "grand" didn't seem insignificant, and my choice was made.
The Baba with old Rhum was the star of this new quartet, not too boozy, very floral, but especially this moist cake which kept its soft texture without getting brittle, despite its advanced state of drunkenness. The chou was ok, but the white chocolate whipped cream was kind of heavy and not very refined. The creme caramel was discreet but didn't have anything to be shy about. The raspberries and pistachio tart was immaculate and fruity but arrived a bit late to the party as even all good stomachs must come to an end.
For a while I've been focusing my attention on complex, intriguing food as well as foreign cuisines and their mysteries... I can't stress enough how well this brightly executed classical french meal made me feel.
Unfortunately, my accent (slightly too eastern parisian) will not allow me to make Drouant my daily canteen, but I will certainly come back sooner or later to intertwine my rear-end again... and I could always work on my accent...
For a few pictures of the meal : http://www.chezfood.com/2013/06/24/dr...
P.S. : For the foreign readers asking themselves what this whole "accent" thing is about, the west of Paris is typically more "bourgeois" with the vocal manners that usually accompany this kind of upraising, the east is more popular.