AUX LYONNAISE. Lunch. Had never been, though images of the interior always compelled. It being their 150th Anniversary decided we’d give it a try for lunch. Started with the complementary Cervelles des Canut. Entrees were Potage potiron and Legume fondants d’un pot-au-feu au vieux vinagre. I loved the legumes, they were perfectly tender, piquant from the vinagre, and perfect on this snowy afternoon as we moved into our 2nd week of French sniffles. Next, Partner had the Cookpot de chou-fleur en gratin and I had the Quenelles a la Lyonaise Sauce Nantua. I was especially interested in trying something I had only just had for the first time in Lyon a few days earlier. They were very similar (props to the funky bouchon in Lyon). I liked it, but I also find it somewhat odd. Ultimately, when trying to describe this to folks who’ve not experienced it, the best I could do was to say it was sort of a warm, fishy, ile flottante. Had read some postings of folks being rushed through here but that was not our experience. The place was full, (many turned away) and lively-- families, Bourse businessmen, and a handful of tourists, mostly European and Japanese. We ended our meal with St. Marcellin and Partner had the Papillottes noisette-chocolat, poires caramelisees. A bottle of Domaine Vallet St. Joseph (it being the Christmas season, and all….42€) 129€
BUISSON ARDENT. Dinner. Seated up front near the window in a dark though pleasant room. Host tried to force the English menus on us (seriously hate that –mostly because the bad, often comical google translations are harder to understand than the most puzzling French to me…) He continued in English the rest of the night, we in French. Started with Terrine de sanglier and biche, and I had some kind of mushroom salad atop a cheesy feuillete. Partner had dorade on a broccoli puree, (and with lots of various other bits of veg piled here and there… even looking at the photo we took it was hard to tell what it was) and I had Coquille St. Jacques in a creamy sauce that tasted mostly of curry. Thought it was a waste of good scallops (or maybe they weren’t??? THAT old trick…) I like curry, make it often, but here it overpowered I thought. Can’t remember what we drank – bottle of Sancerre, I think. Somehow the whole experience evaporated… 70ish€…. I think.
RELAIS DE L’ENTRECOTE. The one in the 8th. Lunch. Were over in the neighborhood to see the Monet show and decided to pop by this old (for us) standard. Haven’t been to the others but we always enjoy ourselves here. Delicious steak and frites and sauce, a reasonable salad and good house red. Always full and lively. Very cheerful around Christmas. We managed to need a second little demi for that second round of steak and frites that they always deliver. A keeper. 73€
CHRISTMAS EVE. As many have said, and as we know well – THE hardest night to eat out in Paris. Totally possible, with planning, which we failed to do this year. Oeuf Brouilly at home. Pas mal. Bon vin. Comfy table. Agreeable service. 8€
CHRISTMAS. Planning a feast back at the apartment (boeuf Carbonade et spaetzle) avec neighbors and itinerant friends, and didn’t want to stray far. Le SAINT REGIS, the café at the end of the block on the Ile St. Louis. Always been pretty reliable for simple fare, even though it seemed to me this year the menu is slightly more ‘upscale’, and more expensive. Soup L’Oignon, and Pave de Steak au Poivre avec frites, and a pot of Cote du Rhone. Miss the simple Croque Monsieur, though… 65€
CHEZ PAUL. Lunch. Where I go when I’m craving Pot au Feu ( the sniffles continue). Partner loves the Lapin Farci au chevre. Started with Pissenlits aux lardons, œuf poché, and cruditees, and ended with Pot de Crème and Tarte Tatin. 100cl of Cote du Rhone (13€) Place just as funky as ever and still love it. 87€
LE REMINET. Dinner. Thanks M. Talbott for hipping us to this little open-on-Sunday sweet spot. Cozy, romantic, and delicious. Brought amuses of gambas sautéed and served in endive. Each had the Fricassee of Champignons, served with batons of pate brisee and a shelled, soft-boiled egg on top. Yummy. Partner had Filet de Canette and I had Pave de Bar, both very good. Chablis 1er Cru (39€). 108€
LE COMPTOIR. Lunch. Hmmmmmm. Seemed a bit of a wasted opportunity, but we ended up having a repeat of the lunch we enjoyed so much last year. Hmmmmmm. Interesting for comparison. Both of us felt the quality had dipped. Par exemple… a very simple and straightforward dish like Oeuf Mayonnaise…. The eggs shouldn’t be overcooked so as to form a sulfurous green ring around the yolks… (I’m a stickler on this, and a bit of an eggoholic… once you know the proper technique for hard cooking you can never go back)… Partner had the bouillon de poulet, then the Joue de Boeuf et des pates. I repeated my Poulet au Pot (more of a roulade…). Both fine, though the Joue was reported to be a bit tough. Finished with St. Marcellin (moi) and he had Riz au Lait. One reason I like to repeat items from place to place is that the comparisons can be enlightening. I’m sure I’m no expert, but this St. Marcellin was at the bottom of my list of the 4 or 5 I had this trip. Older and ripper than the others for sure, but I though borderline. I didn’t finish it (SO not like me). Hmmmmmm. Last nit-picky comment: Last year was very happy with the carafe of Samur we had. Waiter pretty much all but refused to let us order it. For just a little more, you can have something MUCH better, he insisted. First of all, if the quality is such a problem with the carafe, why even offer it? Secondly: Horse manure! I should have stuck to my guns and ordered the carafe. The bottle of Cotes du Ventoux we had was fine, but MUCH better??? Doubt it. Think I’m done here. 72€
LE PETIT PONTOISE. Dinner. Had been a few years ago and thought the Poulet Fermier was one of the best I’d ever had. Enjoyed this return visit. Partner started with the Salade artichaut and had the Poulet. I started with Raviole du Dauphine (really garlicky and yummy) and the Escalope de Veau Morile avev pommes purees. Shared a crème brulee, and had a bottle of Pouilly Fume (36€). 115€
JOSEPHINE “CHEZ DUMONET”. Lunch. Had read much about it, and knew we’d be over in that direction since we were going to D’Orsay for the Gerome show. Was also intrigued by Ptipois’s comments in a recent thread about the quality of their Boeuf Bourguignon. Started off with the complementary glass of slightly bubbly white, and a small pot of potage chou-fleur. My entrée was the seared scallops (totally big enough to have as a plat, but not one of the dishes they offered a half-order of. Partner started with enormous rocquefort and endive salad, then the chateaubriand and pommes de terre Landaise. Have to say, I’ve had Boeuf Bourguignon dozens of times, and made it dozens of times, from very time-consuming and trusted recipes (Julia, Anne Willen) and this one was hands down, by far, the best I’d ever had. The meat held its shape, but absolutely melted in your mouth. The sauce was thick and rich. And even the noodles they served, contrary to most, were not overcooked. They were perfect. Very funny experience with wine. Ordered a bottle of Pernand-Vergelesses rouge, 1er Cru (figured we’d stick with Burgundy) and the first waiter had never heard of it, and neither had the second, and several people disappeared quickly and mysteriously by hoisting themselves under the service counter in the front room where clearly there was a passage down to the cave. Finally, the diminutive intense maitre’d was called in (we sensed a pattern here – what I believe they meant at the Harvard Business School when referring to the ‘conspiracy of upward delegation’) and he grabbed the counter with both hands, and swung himself down below, and a moment latter was back up, bottle in hand, eyes rolling. We shared the grand marnier soufflé. Divoon. Very, very enjoyable afternoon. Lost my receipt, but our memory is close to 190€, with probably 60€ of that wine.
CAFÉ DES MUSEES. Dinner. Had been once before and enjoyed and did once more. Lively, cozy, slightly loud, but in a fun way. Had the menu du jour. Salade Lentille, followed by Paleron de Boeuf, a slow braised, kitchen sink sort of thrown in, but good, stick-to-the-ribs inexpensive fare. A pot of Samur Champigny, and we were out of there for 56€. Nice casual spot.
LE GAIGNE. Lunch. Very happy to get back here, and thought often of the lunch we had last year. I started with a potage de carotte: this is why I love this restaurant—something so simple can be so divine. It was the essence of carrot, and delicious, even though I forced my partner to swap half-way so I could try his puff pastry filled with gooey melted cheese. We each then had the poulet roti (perfectly cooked on the bone breast with a fantastic jus) and slightly uninspired, but good baked potato with crème fraiche. Finished with Crepes Normand which were very good and a nice finish to the chicken. A bottle of St. Aubin (41€) and café avec guimauve de maison. 93€
RESTAURANT L’AOC. Dinner. Had pondered over this place for a few years, as its in the neighb. and seemed to hold some promise. Nice rooms. Fine service. Started with Frisee aux Lardons. Slightly gristly lardons (why-oh-why-oh??) but pretty good representation of the dish. I had the ‘cassoulet’ and partner had a Civet de Sanglier. Neither thrilled. It was at this point, I thought, briefly, about adopting the name, Always Orders Wrong Thing. Clearly, this was not the place to come for Cassoulet, but once I saw it on the menu it called to me. Probably, this is a place for a simple slab of rotisserie-d meat. Que Sera. Decent service. Good crowd. Bottle of Cahors (38€) 108€
AU CHAI DE L’ABBAYE. Lunch. Lemme just say it: I really love this place. Is the food revolutionary? No. Pretty standard café fare with a few regional highlightrs. But I have enjoyed every visit, love that, despite a potentially touristy locale (rue de Buci, or Debussy for the musically inclined) we are always surrounded by Les Francaise, and everything I’ve had there has been pretty tasty. This time out, Soup L’Oignon Gratinee (les sniffles continu!) and then Chou Farci D’Auvergne for me, and Croque Berichonne for the partner. Pot of Cotes du Rhone (10€). 39€
LE TASTEVIN. Dinner. Houndies, cut me some slack here. I know, I know, for the money one can do better, go further, rise higher… Biensur…MAIS, it is across from the apt. we rent, Madame Puisieux always remembers us and is warm, and it is a lovely cozy room and I can’t help but feel a bit at home here. Started with salade of haricots verts and foie gras, partner had Salade Automne (endive, bettrave, champignon, arugala). My plat was St. Pierre and various braised primeurs. Partner had the Chateaubriand and roasted potatoes and Fleur de Sel. Shared a Moelleux, and a bottle of Santenay 1er Cru (62€) 156€
Merci Houndies, for your guidance and friendship on this voyage. You enrich our lives. Bonne Annee. A la prochaine!