4 of us went earlier this week in the downpour, it was 9:30, the place was almost empty. The staff could not have been more congenial and engaging, and though we stayed very late they never did that sullen walk by the tables that happens at so many restaurants when the staff is ready to get the heck home -- they let us take our sweet old time, and it was a very sweet time, save for the timing of one dinner.
I'm posting again because the menu has changed somewhat, gone are the dishes of duck done two ways and the hangar steak rolled in parsley and shallots with the tin cup of hand cut fries on the side (I WISH THEY'D BRING BACK BOTH OFTHESE!!!). Instead I went for two specials, both of which were extremely tasty. The starter was a sort of oxtail pie, with very juicy and well flavored meat surrounded by a layer of reduced mushrooms and filo dough, it was served with a little scoop of butternut squash that was covered in fried onions, and brocolli spears in a beaurre blanc reduction. I could have gone home happy after eating that and nothing else. The main dish was their cassoulet, the beans of which were so astonishingly tender and full of flavor it is no wonder the dish was served a little unconventionally -- the duck leg, sausage and pork were in the bottom of a soup bowl and those incredibly delicious beans were ladled over them, hiding the melting goodies underneath. First rate, alhough I would have liked a more garlicky sausage in the mix too.
Other dishes included the new steak frites platter with a hefty portion of steak (which had a nice aged flavor) and shoestring fries and salad. It was good but its the sort of thing other restaurants do as well and I'm wondering why they dropped their more original version. There was also a roasted chicken over risotto which took FOREVER to come out of the kitchen, 3 of us were more than halfway done with our dishes and it still had not arrived. Very odd given the place was deserted. Everything was being made to order at the last minute the waiter suggested. Still, my friend was delighted with it when it arrived, and we used the wait as an excuse to order up another carafe of the drinkable house red.
Gone are a the desserts I loved so well, the pots de creme, the sour cherry clafotis, the lemon tart. Instead we shared a marquis au chocolat (which had a nice contrasting layer of coconut in the center) and a creme brullee.
I get the feeling they are attempting to reach a common denominator of client by the regular menu. Still, every time I have had the specials at Le Quinze, and I have often, I have been both surprised by the presentation of the plate and extremely satisfied with the taste.
Let me just repeat at the end here that I'm not a shill for this place, I just love it as do my French friends, and I can't understand why it was so empty that night when it's such an authentic, cheap and good place to eat.