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Paris review: Le Beurre Noisette

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Paris review: Le Beurre Noisette

Moshulu | Nov 18, 2005 05:57 PM

This is really just a quickie review, based on a single visit. The Beurre has been mentioned on this board recently, so I thought I would give it a try.

Le Beurre Noisette
68 rue Vasco da Gama, 15th
Tel. 01 48 56 82 49
Metro Lourmel
Closed Sunday, Monday

This is not a bistrot at all, but a small restaurant. It’s tucked away in a rather bland neighborhood between the busy rue de Lourmel and the unattractive Porte de Versailles. On entering, first impressions are discouraging: the room is rather ugly. On the plus side, the tables are well spaced and the silverware is better than you usually see in Paris.

The menu comes scrawled on a chalkboard and it looks like it is frequently erased and re-written - a good sign. There is a wide spectrum of dishes: pork, veal, beef, salmon, cod. Nothing too fancy, no over-reaching. The starter/main-course/dessert menu is a reasonable 32 euros.

My wife had duck foie gras poached in red wine, with a fruit marmalade on the side. It was quite good, but served too cold. My pork shank terrine was at the right temperature and very tasty. We were both pleased with the next course, a think slab of baked cod, served on a bed of white beans, with a strip of bacon and a (vegetable stock-based?) sauce. This kind of dish is often ruined by overcooking the fish and/or the beans, but not here.

The wine was a big disappointment. The list is relatively short and appears to have been carefully composed. Many of the wines are available by the glass. That’s good, but my choice – a half-bottle of 2002 Chorey-les-Beaune from Maillard – should not have been on the list at all for another 3-4 years. It’s really a shame since there was a fine wine there somewhere, as is often the case with this relatively unknown appellation from the wrong side of the tracks in Burgundy.

Desserts were uninteresting. My chocolate mousse “quenelle” suffered from having its principal ingredient be no more than supermarket-grade. That is simply not good enough when one is cooking with chocolate, and there is a lot of really good stuff available in Paris (for example the 100% grade from Puyricard on Avenue Rapp).

We split a glass of Rivesaltes with the desserts. This was our mistake because this wine always tastes like cheap port. We should have had the Pacherenc.

Service at our table was very correct, but I did not appreciate what was happening just across the dining room, where a couple of Americans were trying to order a bottle of wine. The waiter kept repeating in French (which they clearly did not understand) that they should choose their food first. This is the local custom, of course, but it was no business of his to comment on what and when these people wanted. In other words, a small skirmish in the great Franco-American war. In the US, the customer is king since he is paying. But in France everything must be done by the book, and no exceptions. How to react is a matter of choice. Personally, I used to put up with this sort of thing
in France, now I know longer do.

Total bill with mineral water came to 95 euros, for two.

So how does the BN rate overall? The food is above average for sure, and the price/quality ratio is satisfactory. If I am in this neighborhood during mealtime, I will definitely return. But otherwise – probably not.

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