All of these places have been commented on pretty heavily, I know, but I did just want to share how tickled I was with our experiences dining with a toddler.
TINTILOU – If it’s good enough for John Talbott, it’s good enough for me, so off we went for a maman-fils lunch.
The good news: I thoroughly enjoyed their 25 euro “bento” formula – a poached egg with pumpkin espuma, a feuilleté de lièvre, cod with riz noir/mussels/green beans/preserved lemon (the last was an inspired and tasty touch), a ginger cream with pomegranate seeds and a madeleine, all served at the same time in lovely little covered dishes. Ideal for busy businesspeople and mothers worried about their young one’s tolerance levels, and nicely accompanied by a glass of Jurançon sec.
The better news: They could not have been nicer about having a toddler in their midst. The stroller was whisked away to an unobtrusive corner; we were offered a banquette table which was then further improved upon by a chair drawn up to the side so I could be close to Rhys; 10 seconds after we sat down, a stack of children’s books and some paper and crayons appeared on the table, followed shortly by a glass of fresh orange juice; they asked what the young one might wish to eat (nothing, thank you, except for my wild hare strudel, which he unexpectedly gulped down); and they were charmed when he insisted on sniffing the wine and pronouncing it “very yummy.”
The bad news: There were only two other tables occupied! Please don’t let this place go under, because I’d really like to go back again…
A LA BICHE AU BOIS – Hadn’t been here in years, but figured it would be a good, simple, early dinner on Friday night given its proximity to the flat. It’s not setting any gastronomic flames alight – the terrine maison was a bit dry and the cassolette de biche was rather one-note-ish, but with cheese and dessert tossed in for 30 euros a person, it’s a hard deal to beat. I would have been disappointed if we’d made a special journey – but for a five-minute walk, it was fine. And again – though this time the place was PACKED, it was another child-friendly experience: banquette table, poussette stowed away in the kitchen, no less, and an endless supply of aperitif crackers for the little one. Who turns out to like venison, by the way.
CHEZ L’AMI JEAN – I know. Everyone and their mother has already been here. But oh dear Lord, THE FOOD. G. kept it restrained with a simple platter of saucisson sec for a starter, and I went for the boudin blanc, which was divine – served with spiced pumpkin purée, smoked herring foam and a veal jus spiked with piment d’Espelette, it literally melted in the mouth. Then G. went for the axoa – gorgeous soft veal with onions and peppers and a Robuchon-esque potato purée – and I had the dos de chevreuil – lovely rare venison with a massive slab of seared foie gras, poached spiced pears and a pan sauce flavoured with juniper and thyme. We topped it off with the requisite riz au lait…and burn me for a heretic, but we shouldn’t have bothered. Creamy, yes, but just…meh. I should have had another boudin instead. I am dying to go back here for a full-on-please-M.-Jego-will-you-cook-for-us extravaganza, and I can only imagine what it would be like to be a regular – of which there were plenty at Sat. lunch – but I was still deliriously happy with our “quick” lunch.
And AGAIN, lovely with kids – paper and crayons provided post-haste, the hostess kept coming by to chat with Rhys, etc, etc. Given the cramped quarters and cult status of the restaurant, I would never have expected it. It’s nice to be wrong sometimes.
Side notes: We stayed in a flat in rue Traversière in the 12th, and were very impressed by the range of good boulangeries in our immediate 'hood. I'm finicky when it comes to baguettes, and Jacques Bazin, Le Pain au Naturel and Blé Sucré all had delightful versions. And Bazin gets special marks for an insanely good kouign amann.