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Paris: Jamin, Au Bascou, La Truffiere etc

Kathleen | Aug 6, 200306:21 PM

Many thanks to all of you who advised me before our sudden trip to Paris 3 weeks ago. I am sorry we could not follow all your advice but it was very helpful. In return, here is a quick list of what we found.

A note for you vinophiles out there, we were going on a gourmet barge trip through Burgundy and were trying not to drink too much or too well before leaving, so we did not order fabulous wines with our meals.

First day, we flew in and went to Jamin for lunch, which as I said before was a sentimental favorite. Thanks for all the good advice on Lucas Carton, which I passed along to some friends who were going there for dinner and we will certainly try to do that one next time as well.

Jamin, now a 2 star, was wonderful, equal to or better than any 3 star we have tried. Very quiet and refined inside but the service is always impeccable and very welcoming. We had the Menu le Marche at 50e.

Amuse bouche of toasted fish & tomato on brioche, then a delicious mousseline of white sausage with pistachios in a reduction of banana.

Ravioli de ris de veau et fois gras aux mousserons, done in a foam of watercress with a hint of anise or fennel.

Monkfish grilled rare with lobster sauce.

Roast veal medallion on beet salad with grilled fois gras, absolutely the best we had the entire trip. Just meltingly perfect.

We also chose from the expansive dessert cart, pink grapefruit tart with pink grapefruit sorbet for me and some of that tart with a raspberry chocolate tart and spectacular vanilla ice cream for Michael.

Café Kenya (strong) and Café Papusa (mild), with the sweets tray of mini chocolate soufflé, still hot, raspberry tart, pistachio and vanilla madelaines, and almond tuiles, then the chocolates with orange peel, with nuts and raisins, and with toasted rice (I think).

With the lunch we had the house wines by the glass, a white 96 Bordeau and a red 98, both Chateau de Mayne and excellent.

The whole meal was scrumptious and we had no complaints of any kind. I highly recommend Jamin and found it very helpful to reserve by fax from the states.

After wandering around Versailles all the next day, we went to Au Bascou for dinner. The interior of the unisex alone is worth the trip, do not miss it. We both liked this restaurant but were not unanimous about the dishes. We had a great time, the service was fine and everyone was very friendly.

We had a very good terrine de canard cooked in honey and spices, and a sausage sampler appetizer which, tho tasty, only had 2 types of sausage, a chorizo and a genoa.

I had the baby squid, chiparons a la Navaraisse, in a tomato sauce with saffron rice, which was well prepared but not exciting. M had the veal piperade, which was delicious, with bacon, peppers, basil and potatoes. The cheese course was a slice of Ardi Gasna (tasted like Manchego), served with black cherry preserves.

For dessert M had the two cakes, almond and cherry, served with vanilla ice cream, and I had the baba con pataraxa liquer con glace de café which was much more interesting and I thought quite good.

Next time we go I will dance around the menu a bit more carefully, as some Basque dishes were excellent and others very plain.

The third night we had intended to go to Chez Michel, where we had amazingly good pintade and fois gras years ago but the owner had closed it for weekends for the end of the summer. Instead, they recommended that we try Chez Casimir, next door, which is also run by the family and had been written up in Chowhounds. It has a less expensive menu and an informal atmosphere.

We both loved Chez Casimir and agreed that everything tasted wonderful. M only said he thought his duck breast was a bit chewy but mine was fine. It was terribly hot in Paris and the one waitress managed all her customers with skill and decision.

We started dinner with gazpacho de tomate 7e, which was served with cheese cubes and chopped scallions and just perfect. There was plenty for 2 people. Also a terrine that I thought had a bit of fois gras in it, 6e. We both had the canard roti au fin cut d’espelette which was her recommendation, with puree de potatoes. The house wine for the month was a bottle of Marsannay (de Longerois) 2000 at 24.5e which was Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair and a very good light bodied red.

Michael had the cheese course at 7e with a sampling of 8 excellent cheeses.

For dessert there was a wonderful chocolate mousse au sauce pralinee, which M really enjoyed, but in my opinion the absolute winner was a chilled melon soup, just perfectly iced, with 5 roasted apricots and a perfect sorbet de fromage blanc, 6e. If I lived anywhere near this restaurant, I would eat there once a week.

Then we left Paris for a marvelous French County Waterways barge trip and ate and drank and toured for 6 days. We had dinner at Lameloise in Chagny, a 3 star restaurant, one evening, and delicious meals on the barge, including 36 cheeses and 24 wines, many 1st Cru and Grand Cru. So we returned to Paris quite spoiled for normal life.

Coming back to Paris, we had made a reservation in advance to go to Flora, because we had eaten at Les Olivades years ago and wanted to see how the chef was doing with her new restaurant.

Flora was interesting because, although it seemed that the menu did not have much variety, what we did eat was delicious. It has rather a plain décor and is brightened up with mirrors, which are very cleverly positioned to reflect the very attractive front of the Hotel Prince de Galles across the street. We had the 3 course meal at 39e, which seemed very reasonable.

When we first arrived, we were presented with a cold melon soup in a tiny glass with a tiny spoon sticking out of it on top of a cake stand. I hate it when I am served food I do not know what to do with and after diddling around with the mini spoon for a bit I just picked it up and drank it. Which would be just fine socially in New Orleans but may not be OK in Paris. Ah well.

Little amuse bouches followed, one a delicious salmon mousse in herb crème with brioche and flavoring of cumin. The others were less exciting.

The terrine was terrific, a marbre de bouef and fois gras. The beef was shredded, not ground, and in gelee. Served with red lentil salad.

Flora has a very good selection of wines by the glass, and with this I had a very nice white Cassis, Clos Val Bruyere 2000 that was very smooth.

We both had the Supreme de pintade rote en tapenade verte, pommes puree huile d’olive. The pintade, in a brown wine sauce, was the 2nd best we have ever eaten,(the best was at Chez Michel), a bit salty to my taste due to the green olive tapenade, but cooked pink and just perfect. The potatoes were dark with black olives and olive oil and I found them too heavy to enjoy but M loved them. With this I had a glass of Saint Estaphe Chateau les Ormes de Pez 1997, which I really enjoyed, big, round, fruity and smooth. A wine to drink now.

For dessert, M had roasted apricots and peaches served in a big glass with a very sweet honey crème, which he loved, and I had another soupe de melon, not as chilled as Chez Casimir’s, with a tuile and pomegranate seeds decorating the melon sorbet. Wonderful.

For afters, we were given a plate of sugared nuts, coconut cakes, madeleines, and mini soufflés. These were all about the same consistency and not exciting.

Flora has moved away from her strictly Provencal theme and yet most of the dishes on the menu struck me as not that far away. Although most of the food was delicious, I felt that there was a ragged quality about the menu, and that there was not enough consistency in the smaller items, such as the amuse bouches.

For our last evening, we returned to La Truffiere, one of the handful of top restaurants open on Sunday evenings. It is handy to our hotel and we had good food there years ago, when we did the truffle menu. Truthfully, that menu did not call to me again, as I remembered it as rather heavy, but this trip we were enticed by the Menu d’Ete, which we saw as we walked by the window earlier in the day. For 32e it had some interesting items. Although it was not advertised as a dinner menu, when we asked about it they told us it was available at night also. (The standard lunch menu was 79e). The manager told me their cuisine is based primarily on Provencal and the southwest of France.

Surprisingly, to me at least, we got more than we had expected from reading the menu in the window. First we were given a mini terrine of tepid soup which tasted like fois gras that neither of us found endearing. From then on the meal was wonderful. Next came a stunning cold mousse of avocado and cucumber in gelee with tiny cut veggies poached in herbs with garlic and dill and a toasted flaked piece of salmon on top, all served in a glass. It was a little masterpiece.

Then I had Persille de langue de Boeuf with sauce Gribiche, which was a very good cold terrine of shredded beef tongue with a homemade mayonnaise sauce. M had a fabulous plate of raviolis stuffed with cheese and cured ham de bayonne, with melon coulis, tomato coulis, and pine nuts vinegrette.

For dinner, we both had the veal parmesan, cutlets stuffed with chorizo, a la saltimboca, which came with a layered tower of grilled eggplant and tomato slices and basil.

For dessert I had the sweet potato cake with marinated plums a la Armagnac and he had the cheese platter. These were both delicious.

With the coffee we had a plate of assorted cookies and another plate of chocolates, including homemade truffles.

I would highly recommend La Truffiere. It has an incredible wine list and we were given the last glass of a bottle they were tasting for their cellar as a special favor.

We found that all the restaurants above had great wines by the glass, with the exception of Au Bascou, where the wines from the Pyrenees we tried by the glass were not to our taste.

Many places we checked on during the week were closed for vacation.

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