Our odyssey ends with six days in Paris. We had our very best meals at Hugo Desnoyer, 6 Paul Bert, and Spring. Our worst was at Chez George.
This was our first time eating here, and it won't be our last. At 79 e per person for the Spring dinner, the four courses plus amazing starters delivered top quality products and really fine cooking. Beautiful plates, the best expression of modern French cuisine.
Starters: potato leek soup; raw oyster with green apple; smoked trout
1st: Trout with radish, lemon-honey vinegar
2nd: Langoustine, squash puree, cepes (wonderful)
3rd: Pigeon breast (premium quality, perfectly cooked)
4th: Dessert tasting; poached pear with crème Anglais and chocolate; blackberry with thyme and lemon granite; walnut cake with nut cream, pistachio cream and tuile.
We did not take the wine pairings, instead we chose a bottle of white Burgundy from Saint Veran for 48e. With a mineral water, 2 menus and wine, 218e.
Two observations: 1. There is a trend to dessert tastings, and I suppose it does show off the skills of the kitchen, and offers many tastes to diners, but IMO, I always prefer one well-made dessert with thoughtful garnishes, over lots of small dishes that are unrelated to each other. Maybe people like lots of little bites, much like dessert tapas, but I always remember the dessert that finishes as a whole entity, and find it more satisfying.
2.Our Spring reservation was at 7 pm, the only time slot available. We would normally eat much later. I mention this because I am wondering if our experience at this hour in the restaurant is typical - we seemed to be the only table having the menu as written. All of the tables around us, and within earshot were having revised menus due to dietary requests - the standard vegetarian, lots of wheat free, gluten free, dairy free (including a dairy free, except for dessert, then dairy was fine.) The room became a forum for sharing digestive problems, intolerances, where to buy GF bread in which city in the US, where to eat with allergies in SF, NY, etc. They were all Americans, which was plain to hear as that was all you could hear. I give credit to the kitchen to revise their dishes for all these requests. I am well aware of the seriousness of life threatening food allergies, such as shellfish, peanuts, and Celiac disease, but it did seem that these issues were more intolerances or sensitivities. So, I am wondering, does the restaurant try to book "special requests" at the early seating, when they have more time to devote to menu changes? Or was this situation just a coincidence?
6 PAUL BERT
This dinner was not only one of our best, but was also the best value !
The four course (select three mains plus one dessert) at 44e, along with a bottle of Fleurie at 43e, was outstanding value. The place was packed and with energy running high, lots of fun.
We had beautiful scallops and a lotte with foie gras and bok choy to start.
We both took the Colvert with carrots, and it was the best of the evening for us. The duck was served halved with the head, to enable to eat the brains. Followed by Cochon with corn and green chili, and then a terrific Cannoli with lemon filling and fromage frais sorbet.
This place rocks! We took the formula of the day for 50e each, as it sounded so delicious, rather than select a specific cut of meat. We will surely be back, so next time we may do that. In addition to the large table, they now have three tables for two, which is where we sat. We loved watching Hugo and his butchers at work, and also seeing what the locals were buying. Hugo is most generous with his menu, and the quality of everything is top, and he really wants to make everyone happy. He told me he has the second cook from the Crillon in his kitchen.
50e Formula, which changes daily:
Every meal begins with a large plate of charcuterie and a glass of white wine. Wonderful bread and butter.
Oeuf Carbonara (in an eggshell, served with toasted country bread)
Veal tartare with cepes and parmesan- OMG delicious!
Lamb shoulder,braised with Madras curry, and potato puree
Fromage - Saint Nectaire, Camembert
Dessert - Apple tart with almond crème fraiche. This was truly divine - the pastry was beyond words.
Near the end of the meal, Hugo set down on our table half of a bottle of Gevry-Chambertin, from his favourite producer, just because.
2 menus, mineral water, 1 bottle Volnay, 2 cafes.....174e.
Since you can only eat lunch here, after this meal, you won't need dinner. Being the good eaters that we are, we finished everything. MG really loved this spot - I think most men would like to eat in a butcher shop!
CHEZ GEORGE, 1 rue du Mail
I tried to remember why I reserved here - maybe it was the ongoing search for the "mythical" French bistro. Overall, a disappointment for us both, food, service, and atmosphere. We both love traditional bistros, but it was just too cramped, the service was poor - our courses arrived anywhere from 10-20 minutes apart from each others, and we found the portions to be enormous and unappealing.
MG had Salade de Museau, just OK
I had Frisee aux Lardons, lots of lardons, but unremarkable otherwise
We both had fish, Turbot grilled with Bernaise sauce (41e) and a Sole "George" (39e) which had the plate overflowing in crème fraiche.
MG had raspberry and lemon sorbets, which were very good, and I ordered the lemon tart, and did not eat it, and to their credit, they did not charge for this.
With a bottle of Pouilly Fume, and Chateldon water....158e.
(Next time, we will return to our fave bistros such as Chez Denise or Bistro Paul Bert.)
YAM' TCHA 1 star
This was a lovely experience and the cooking is quite remarkable and competent, and is recommended if you're looking for a creative French dinner with the option of tea pairings, and/or wine pairings. The room is small and intimate, and it is hard to keep your eyes off the tiny glassed-in kitchen at the front of the room. You may choose wine or tea with your dinner, or both. As we were curious about the teas, we chose to have one tea pairing at 25e, which were five different teas paired with each course, along with a bottle of Saint - Romaine, at 40e. Surprisingly, there were several Spanish products on the menu, Galician beef, and piquillo peppers, also tiny Mexican cucumbers, in addition to Chinese flavours. The menu degustation is 100e each, which included:
Amuse: Crab spring roll
Appetizer: Mexican cucumber "Sichuannaise"
Mushroom soup, oyster, foie gras, clam foam (favourite)
Roasted scallops, almost raw potatoes, XO sauce (another winner)
Steamed sea bass, black trompette mushrooms, shaoxing rice wine
Beef from * Galicia , baby gem, persimmon sauce
Goat cheese, honey, soy sauce
Chocolate tart with passion fruit and piquillo peppers
Plum soup with almond milk sorbet (wonderful)
After we ate the *Galician beef, I asked the server why they were using Spanish beef, and she told me because it is aged 200 days! She said this is illegal in France. I was surprised to hear it had that much age on it; I could not taste anything different, it was tender, but much like eating a beef filet - more tenderness than flavour. I also thought the piquillo peppers on the chocolate and passion fruit tart did not work well together.
Regarding the teas, three of the five were very earthy and smoky, and you must love these strong teas to appreciate them. I think drink the teas OR the wine, but not both with the meal.
This was a lunch here, and it was excellent. Very busy neighbourhood spot - it filled up completely in 10 minutes. Great service, and such an appealing menu- it was hard to choose, everything sounded great. We took the two courses for 18 e, three are 34e. We chose and thoroughly enjoyed each bite:
Frogs legs, with tandoori and cresson sauce
Mackerel with beets, turnip
Pintade breast, roasted, with red cabbage
Veal Carre, potatoes, carrot, celeriac
With wine....86 e
I'm not so sure I would travel across the city to have dinner here, but if you are close by, don't miss it, I'd say.
We reserved here on Sunday night, to try someplace new. In the past we've eaten well at Christophe or Café de Musee on a Sunday. Although I love the concept of Terroir Parisien, we were not wowed with it, it was just OK. It was all off the carte, we had three courses, some disappointing wines, for a total of 147e.
MG thought his chicken liver terrine was pretty good, along with the fresh radishes and butter he ordered. I started with the nettle soup with onion foam and nutmeg, and it had great flavour, but I wished it were hot, not cold. It was a lot of cold soup to eat on an October evening.
My main of veal with glazed vegetables was probably the best of the night, MG's lamb with beet orzo was scary to look at - a lot of purple going on, but he said it tasted fine. We shared an OK Paris Brest, just OK, because once you've had Genins or Paul Berts, well it's hard to measure up to those.
OTHER BITS & BITES
Loved their natural wines and the plate of Lombatello we shared late one afternoon, also took away a bottle.
POT' O LAIT
We could smell the clarified butter as soon as we entered. Had the galette of the day for 8e - Pommes de terre, Emmental, crème fraiche, jambon. Absolutely delicious.
For a change, an Italian custom-made sandwich on a crusty bun, your choice of prosciutto, cheese, roasted vegetables and more. An enormous bowl of arugula with sweet cherry tomatoes and nuggets of aged 24 month parmesan from the wheel behind the counter. Italian wines, and the famous POZETTO gelatos. We love the gianduja, café, and hazelnut.
Two locations a block apart in the 4th - one for gelato only, the other for light meals and gelato.
PETIT VENDOME, 2nd
For an eat-in (at the bar only) or take out, this is one fab sandwich to eat, made to order with Julien baguettes, and the top hams, cheeses and pates, and butter. Sit down at tables if you want something more substantial at this Avergnate bistro. We sat at the bar and enjoyed ours with glasses of thin Saint-Pourcain wine, and watched the locals carry on. Every once in a while, when things got too loud or out of order, the woman behind the bar would ring an enormous cow bell, and things would go back to normal for awhile. Great fun; was hard to get MG to leave.
Stopped for café and an exquisite lemon tart.
Didn't get around to many patisseries this time, as we ate breakfast at our hotel this time.
Finally, (yes, sorry for the length) thanks to all for your insights that made our Odyssey so much more delicious!