‘What did you say?’ Was the response we got from our veteran Qantas ‘hostie’ after we ordered a glass of Billecart-Salmon fizz as we leveled out to 40k feet en route to Paris via Singapore, having no idea it was one of the two Champagnes they were pouring. I didn’t have the heart to say it was the Champagne with the black label that you cut our Charles Heidsieck with as you topped up our initial glass (making the Heidsieck infinitely better Champagne by the way) but I guess it’s hard juggling two Champagne’s by the glass so I kept my smart Alec remarks to myself. She went on to let us (and the whole of flight QF81) know, in a loud ‘ocker Aussie accent’ that she thought ‘billy cart’ was a great name for a wine.
Some 24 hours after my delicious Heidsieck/Salmon blend we are now in Paris, with a heavily jet lagged 6 and 4 year old in tow. The children were vacillating between sheer joy of being in the city of lights to personality types based upon which Nick Cave could write an interesting album.
We powered through some sightseeing and hit Mon Vieil Ami for our Midday booking. I could wank on about how this restaurant is like an old friend but I wont because an old friend wouldn’t leave me standing outside in the cold for 15 minutes after our agreed time of commencement of our luncheon, nor would they be a little slack in their attention of water or cutlery requirements but this is ‘lagged Jeremy’ being a picky prick. The service, when evident was very warm and friendly.
House bread and butter are superb and the wine list has some interesting offerings and where there’s a bit of value is in the Loire and Rhône valleys. There’s not a lot of interest or value from Burgundy and the value certainly wanes on the reserve wines page where a fairly poor vintage of Meursault-Charmes from Jean-Marc Roulot is offered at prices that wouldn’t be attained down the road at a trois etoiles establishment. To this point I’ve been as negative as half a battery factory but don’t let my surly start fool you, I had a good time and the food is excellent.
My entrée special of perfectly grilled lobe of foie with three stems of fresh, buttery asparagus was delicious. Cousin Lucy, on her first trip to France, had the courage to indulge in the foie special also and I suspect later on tonight her body will rebel and ask ‘WTF did you put into me?’ Our wine, the 2007 Alfonse Mellot Sancerre ‘La Moussiere’ worked really well with the dish. It was textural and unctuous with real vinous sappiness. It showed plenty of mineral and flint and something savoury and earthy. The fruits were restrained but portrayed melons (think rockmelon and honeydew). Heidi’s starter of beef bouillon with celery, celeriac, coriander and ginger was excellent.
For main course Heidi and I opted for what was essentially beautifully cooked lamb shoulder on a bed of house made baked beans with some grilled polenta. There’s a fair chance that a ‘vent violent’ may blow through the streets of the 6th arrondissement later on tonight. Our accompanying 2010 Alain Graillot Saint-Joseph was a perfect example of highly perfumed and savoury Syrah. Impeccably balanced with real fragrance, silky texture and succulent fruits cut by minerally acidity. This will be short-listed for most gluggable red wine of 2012.
Baba au rhum is made of the highest quality rum with a delightful chantilly cream, in fact I’m taking a bit of license here, as a bloke whose only real exposure to rum over the years has been Bundy and coke when I was underage drinking in some of Australia’s country pubs I’m not really qualified in making statements about high quality rum. The dessert was however very good, made from what I suspect is high quality rum. Heidi and the kids had a strawberry soup that was flecked with mint and had a quenelle of delicious vanilla ice cream floating like a gelato pontoon on top, it was highly refreshing and quite ‘souperb’.
I have never licked a dirty ashtray and then has scalding hot water poured over my tongue, but I imagine this experience mirrors the espresso served at Mon Vieil Ami.
This place has more faults than a Philippoussis service game but for some reason I will probably return, the quality of produce and execution in the kitchen is spot on.