Where it all began. The place that, according to the common knowledge, started the "bistronomy" trend, where Yves Camdeborde put his 3 star magic into traditional bistro dishes.
Today Yves Camdeborde is no longer behind the curtains at la Régalade, but he can sleep well assured that Bruno Doucet is continuing what he started flawlessly.
Thanks to my family's gluttony (I mean that in a good way), dishes were being past around the table and I got to sample a fair amount of different food. Let me cut to the chase if you're already bored and don't feel like reading on: everything was spot on !
Before our orders started coming, we were offered a terrine de paté, with some pickles and pickled onions. Not bad, not amazing, a good terrine I'd be happy to eat regularly but not something that would stop my train of thought.
Marinated scallops with bacon and parmesan vinaigrette.
I didn't have a great appetite when coming in (which I am ashamed to admit), so I thought I'd go for a light appetizer, something refreshing, palate cleansing, bright. And this it was, the scallops were subtle with a nice soft but firm texture, and every ingredient though pretty obvious, complimented each other perfectly.
What else I tasted: The squid ink risotto with shrimps was very intense, briny and punchy, probably my favorite appetizer. The veal headcheese carpaccio was very soft with mellow gamey flavors. The "pressé" de volaille au foie gras, way better than the terrine.
Suprême de Volaille with gnocchi, mushrooms and Albufera sauce.
Our server told us this is an Antonin Carême dish. The Albufera sauce being made with foie gras, porto, and white truffle oil.
Before I dove in, the aromatics of this plate were mesmerizing, one could smell all the richness of the sauce, the mushrooms, the foie gras, the hint of truffles (which weren't overpowering), I couldn't wait to start the devouring ritual.
The poultry came without skin, looking like 2 quenelles of meat. It was soft and delicate, slightly pink, juicy but not too juicy as to gorge itself easily with the sauce. The duke of Albufera must have been a nice man as the sauce named after him is what every sauce aspires to be, well balanced, incredibly well balanced, a beautifully written string quartet where the richness of the bass-foie-gras is certainly present without making the piece too heavy, the acid of the first-violin-porto takes us by the hand with its playful melody, the muskiness of the white-truffle-second-violin adds counterpoints, richness, something a bit crazy without which the melody would sound dull, and finally the base-sauce-alto-violin creates a nice pattern, a discreet base without which everything else would fall apart.
The gnocchi were sauteed which added some salty intermissions in the dish (poached gnocchi would probably have been to bland for them to stand out), although I wish there would have been a few more of them, I think I only had 5 small nuggets in all the dish.
What else I tasted: Two fish whose identity cards I can't remember, cooked just enough, one was with spinach the other with braised endives, both had punchy acidic tastes. One pork panna cota ... uh... I mean... pork belly (sorry the texture got me confused), skin crispy and served with lentils which is probably something I could eat anytime of the day, no matter how full I already am.
Rice pudding. Is it better than this one : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784995 ? I'm sorry to the Chez l'Ami Jean fans (sorry Parigi), but I will have to say... yes.
It's been too long for me to actually compare the rice itself, but what tickled my belly with angel fingers at la Régalade was the caramel sauce. You get a bowl of rice pudding, a small container of caramel sauce, and they close the curtains and allow you to have your opium trip alone in a dark room with floating curls of vanilla smoke dancing while you're eyes close and you die. Until you wake up again, to have a second fix.
I loved the rice pudding at Chez l'Ami Jean, it is amazing, incredible, and I said it was the best in the world, but it's over the top with all the little goodies you get to put inside, it's a Dvorak's New World Symphony rice pudding. The Régalade rice pudding it a Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen rice pudding.
The only complaint I have about my dinner at La Régalade is that our table was near the entrance door and it was freezing. The little electric radiator, that our server had to jump over a few times, didn't do much. So if I can give one piece of advice is to try and ask for a table that is inside the room, oh yeah, and also, go... now!