A family friend has just returned to Paris after a ten day tour of Prague and Berlin. Roger has come over to collect a few things he has left with me. He says he is in the mood for a good French meal so I pull out my personal "to try" list of about, oh, a hundred restaurants. I end up selling him on the one that I keep passing on my walk home from the Sorbonne, one that absolutely oozes with charm from the outside looking in. This morning, as I was salivating while peering through the window to read the day's
offering, I saw that chicken with 40 cloves of garlic was on the lunch menu.
Restaurant Perraudin is a very traditional bistro with red and white checkered tablecloths, too small dark stained bistro chairs, some obligatory bistro posters, and lace lamp shade covers.
We hadn't reserved a table but there were only a handful of diners when we arrived at approximately 730PM. It was equally charming once we were inside. I was almost expecting to find Jacquel Brel alive and well. No Brel but Edith was belting out La Vie en Rose as we were studying the menu. It was almost too canned to be real but it somehow seemed fitting and only enhanced the charm of the place.
We both opted for the three course menu at 26 euros. Roger started with house foie gras and I the Flamiche flamande au maroilles which the menu lists as a special cheese from the north, both starters recommended by our waiter. The foie gras was good, but as I've maintained before I have yet to try foie gras that doesn't please me. It was served with what looked like toasted Poilane bread and apple & prune relish. My starter was interesting. It was a bit of cheese pizza meets focaccia served with a really lovely green salad. The cheese was very flavourful and reminded me somewhat of saganaki.
For the mains we continued with the waiter's recommendations. Roger ordered the beef bourguignon à l'ancienne while I settled on gigot d'agneau et son gratin de pommes de terre. I think it's at this point that Roger tells me hanging with me has enhanced his Paris experience. I tell him he is going to make me cry. He says he too but only because the food is so good. That's the Roger we all know; every moment is a punch line waiting for a stage entrance. I would later offer my own confession; I have discovered that the most interesting people in life are the ones with the most useless degrees (Roger has a double one in Russian & French literature).
I asked him how the beef bourguignon stacks up against others he's had but he says he hasn't had many. It has always interested me to try to make it but when my friend Jacques tells me I have to do so with a really good red wine I keep thinking why not drink the wine and eat the beef separately?
My leg of lamb is really good as only simple can be when done correctly. The nicely pink slices of lamb were served in their own jus. Both mains were accompanied by generous portions of steamed potatoes for the stew and potato gratin for the lamb. It was a perfectly browned potato gratin served in a single-size casserole. And those steamed potatoes were some of the best I have had. Who would have thought a starch could be so good?
I don't know where we found the room for dessert but we did. Roger took the tarte au sucre, glace vanille et sauce chocolat and I of course chose the tarte tatin et crème fraîche because it was on the menu. My only complaint about my dessert was the somewhat soggy, flakeless, tasteless crust but the apples were perfectly caramelized. At least they got the most important half of the dessert right.
We both left happy. In fact, Roger was so happy I swear he was crying.