Cleaning out my 2004 notes. Here's some dishes that impressed me for good and bad from popular places.
I find their lunch menu is often much better than I expect it to be since I usually pigeon-hole them as a tried and true cafe with great people watching. However the last lunch I had was memorable, starting with an inventive salad of shredded smoked herring over mashed chick peas and red pickled cabbage surrounded by a moat of chives floating in chive oil. Totally unexpected from the description as "haring fume" salad. Good eats followed by a nice steak tartare and brouilly.
After mentioning steak tartare to my Parisien friend, she insisted I try La Rotonde's. What could I do when the suggestion came with a lowered voice and conspiratorial tone saying "most in the neighborhood say it is the best, and I agree."
It was worth a trip. Served with simply dressed greens and perfect golden frites, the steak tartare is chopped and mixed with mystery items in the kitchen. It arrives in an enormous mound on your plate that two could easily share. Each bite picks up something new in the mixture -- shallots, worcestershire, egg yolk, gerkins, parsley -- I know not what but what a knowing and extrememly delicious preparation. And even though I must indelicately add in full disclosure that you may pay the piper the next morning in the toilette for gorging on so much raw beef, it would not make me hesitate to finish every bite again. This steak tartare was truly memorable and the one to beat for "Best Of Paris" candidates.
I know, I'm almost embarrassed to list this, but as a New Yorker used to having late night takeout, it fits the bill and then some. I wish I could have their salmon pizza here in the City. Thin puffy crust over which is placed thin slices of smoked salmon which cooks from the heat of the pie, which also melts the dollop of creme fraiche plopped in the center, so the entire thing become a delicious melange, light, just the ticket for a late night snack in front of the telly. And time them while you wait outside -- the pie is done in five minutes or less thanks to their hot oven....
ANDOUILETTE WHEN AND WHEREVER
I've had it from Bofinger to an old street vendor outside the Stade Jean Bouin, and each time it impresses me as being the most overrated and disgusting French food I can imagine. Is it REALLY supposed to taste like that or did it sit outside in the sun for too many days??
I'd love to get some recs for what is considered great andouilette to either confirm or disprove that this concoction is the worst food in Europe outside of Rome's pajata!