First few weeks in l tend to cook far more than restaurant as there are so many wonderful things l have been without for a while l just have to cook them, e.g. boudin noir, poitrine fumé, canard barberry, and of course cuisse du pintade. But some restaurants have come into play and here is a report of those sampled:
L'OPPORTUN- Very close to Montparnasse this restaurant is famed for aged beef. Lunch consisted of onglet cheval, undercooked but quickly made right, his very aged entrécote, frites which were perfect, a pot of beaujolais, a tarte tatin, very good. OK, beef and horse were more interesting than good, might do again but why. 92€/2.
LE VILLARET- In the wilds of the 11th, near virtually nothing, a little dicey ( The car window was broken for someone to steal the GPS right outside). The restaurant was very clean, crisp and attractive with stone walls and a vault or two. Service was prompt and friendly; Two amuses came that were ok, we ordered a sweetbread dish and a mushroom/artickoke dish for entrees. They were both cooked properly, came hot, and were enjoyable. Plats we both had the pintade special which was very nicely done. Mention of the wine list must be made. It was world class, listing bottles by Domaine, including DRC. They had six vintages of Ravaneau chablis. It was overwhelming, no inexpensive but certainly fair. We drank water only. Food was all good just not exciting. 76€/2.
LEDOYEN-Off the Champs-Elysees near the Grands Palais, this is a trois *** that has been here for a long time. Room and service was a bit tired, as were the amuses. Wine list was encyclopedic as expected but again drank water only, Chateldon at 8€ a bottle each for four bottles. Food was perfect. A entree of cold smoked eel topped with half beet whipped in cream and chopped beets was amazing. The textures and intensity showed great skill in the kitchen, it did not hurt that it was beautiful as well. For entrees we had sweetbreads and liver. Both were as good as the genre could be, and may have been my favorite of each l have ever eaten. Cheese course is included in special lunch and featured the cheeses of Monsieur Antony from Alsace, perhaps the best affineur in France, thus the world. Desserts were ok and the ton of little stuff following were nice as well; All in all a lovely experience that was ok until saved by drop dead food. 312€/3.
LE GRAND PAN-Returned one evening to one of my favorites in the far reaches of the 14th. It is a long walk from the nearest metro. This place is noted for its cotes du boeuf, cotes du veau, and cotes du porc. The beef and veal are from Aquitaine, do not remember home of pork. Ordered the pork this evening, comes big and thick with great frites, a salad, and soup. lt was served medium rare and was perfect. Another thing about this place, they sell 20 or so wines from the cask and they are great. Drank a white Bandol and a demi-sec chenin blanc with our ris au lait for dessert. l love this place 80€/2.
CHEZ DENISE- Now another of my favorite, the party place, where sharing food and conversation is not only encouraged but expected. You will hear at least five or six languages around the restaurant while dining. Drand carafe d'eau and the house brouilly which is charged by the amount you drink. Starters were a hot fish pate with a great beurre blanc and a chicken liver pate, again warm with a vibrant brown sauce of shallots and cepes.
Entrées were boeuf a gros sel that was huge, rich and warming; haricot mouton, again rib sticking fare with great beans, and my favorite steak tartare in Paris. It is monsterous and we all ate and then shared the other half with the surrounding tables. One chocolate mousse with three spoons, a coffee or two and it was a great evening. 155€/3.
LA TRUFFIERE- Just off Rue Mouffletard this high level spot has been here for a long time. Friends took me and l had not known of it before. We ordered the fussy menu with wine pairing and we were off and running. Nine courses and therefore nine wines made it a long and alcoholic evening, but in the nicest way. Lots of mushrooms and langoustines, and veal filet and others made their way down our gullets. l do not normally do not do wine pairing as prefer to watch a bottle or two develop over time, but this pairing was fabulous. Blind l only indetified one and that was a guess. The sommelier enjoyed bringing out more and more esoteric stuff and it was all perfect with the food. Gladly do it again as soon as someone else takes me. With coffee 666€/3
CHEZ L'AMI JEAN- Another of my favorites on rue Malar in the 7th. Very popular now so reserve early. The restaurant was closed last week as the whole place went to NYC for a fair/competition and said they had a ball. This resto offers a 35€ 3 couse menu with many choices including the famous ris au lait. We said noop and started with the fois gras entier for two for three. Brought out the size of a football and flaming, it had a sort of sugar shell on it and may be the best dish of the year. We drand a Jurançon Moeulloux with the fois and were off to a wonderful start. Entrees, we had four for three, as the scallops just started season were the afforementioned scallops on the shell as always, sanglier civet, wild boar cooked in its own blood; lievre fillet just seared that was memorable; and joue de veau, veal cheeks braised forever. With these came their very good mashed potatoes and a pumpkin puree with a little curry that must have been put through a chinois 12 times, it was the texture of silk. It was pumpkin at its best. Dessert was one ris au lait with three spoons, coffee and a glass of banyuls followed. No pressure was made to flip the table, or anyone elses. Rego is at the top of his form and l will be back in a few weeks. 295€/3.
LE CINQ- l did not want to return here as last year it was so over the top generous l felt it could not repeat, it did, and beat last year to a pulp. Seated at one of the back corner tables where you can see the whole room at a table the size of a Manhattan efficiency apartment the meal started with three amuses. These were not throwaways, these were harbingers of great stuff to come. The best was cold basil cream on top of hot pumpkin soup, wow. Then a single gigantic razor clam, about 8 inches long, gently sauteed with tomato and other aromatics, it was for me, the best thing there. We were both moaning.Then a dish of crab shreds with two sauces and two toppings, it was so good we applauded. Next was a dish of pasta with langoustine, scallops, and mussels that was again startling. They cooked the pasta in the seafood stock so the intensity attacked your tongue in a soothing way, the other dish of that course was sweetbreads with a rich reduction sauce that came with a martini glass with lightly gelled stock and a healthy dollop of caviar on the top. The two of us fought over the stock in the glass. It ain't close to over yet. Then a course of tete de veau, expertly prepared and big chunks of cheek in a rolled slice, Just when l thought l was out of the woods came a game pie in puff pastry. Now l understand the fuss concerning puff pastry. It was buttery, flaky and literally melted in your mouth, a tour de force. Ordered a Coteaux de Layon for the dessert course and had a wonderful tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream, followed by a bunch of little treats that required a wheelbarrow to get me out of there. This was one of the best meals of my life. Granted l was with a friend of Briffard so much stuff was comped but the level of the food and presentations could not have been improved at any point or level.
With coffee and Chateldon 240€/2.
That is it for month one, back with the next installment;