Restaurants & Bars

Paris report -- Le Tire Bouchon

Bill Strzempek | Nov 21, 2005 01:15 PM

62, rue des Entrepreneurs, 15e
Metro Charles Michel
01 40 59 09 27

Carte gourmand for 35 Euros (entrée + poisson + “trou normand” + main plate + choice of cheeses or “round of desserts”). You can search for my previous posts to get the gist of how warm and fuzzy I feel about this bistro and its doting proprietors. If you go early (7:30p) you may be dining alone, as the locals seem to show up later, but by 9:15 the place is politely abuzz.

This time around we started with a “Cocktail Tire Bouchon”: champagne, rosewater and armagnac: light and refreshing. We chose two different starters. The first was “fois gras en crème renversee” served with figs poached in red wine. The fois gras was imaginative and luxurious -- it was turned into small “doughnuts” filled with a cream that burst out when you cut into the fois gras. The second entree was “pate de champignons de bois” served with chips of magret de carnard. The mushrooms had been pressed into a loaf to extract their juice, leaving behind a texture like a meaty pate. The duck could have had more flavor or smokiness to my liking, it seemed to be there mainly for texture contrast, being rather like duck “jerky”.

The fish course followed. Sauteed skate was served with a roasted tomato stuffed with black olives and a compote of marjoram and tomatoes. The two tomato preparations contrasted each other, one was sweet, almost fruity, the other was intense and earthy.

Next came a “trou normande” which was an armagnac sorbet served with frosted grapes.

On to the main plate, a “pintade roti avec langoustines” which was a nice crisp-skinned and flavorful guinea hen lolling in a warm bath of gravy reduced from the fowl drippings and presumably shellfish stock. The langoustines were served alongside the pintade over a bed of fluffy couscous. A very comforting dish.

Like each new preparation of fois gras at Le Tire Bouchon, the “ronde des desserts” is something
I always eagerly await to see where Chef Houry’s invention has led him this month (the menu changes every six weeks). This night’s dessert tasting began with roasted pears and soothing gingerbread ice cream. Next was an unusual garlic shaved ice and sauteed apples. This garlic ice was the first thing I’ve eaten in this bistro over several years that I did not care for. However, I had been forewarned by Madame Houry that we could opt out of trying it and replace it with something else, since it was not to everyone’s taste. The best thing about it was that it really set the stage for the next dessert, an ambrosial rice pudding which seemed even sweeter and silkier in contrast to what came before. The rice pudding was served with near to bursting plump black grapes. This dessert, in turn, prepared us for the last one, earthy and rich carmelised figs served with a bittersweet chocolate shingle, a wonderful marriage of tastes.

This was a very nice evening out, and I continue to recommend it to trusted friends, especially to those on a budget and those who might not speak French, as Madame Houry speaks some English (I noticed too that they now have English "subtitles" on the menu, let’s hope that’s not an evil portent). When colleagues of mine went to Paris a week after I left, I was happy to receive a Blackberried message expressing their delight in having eaten here, which was sent from the sidewalk just outside the restaurant.

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