Lisa’s Paris Notes, May (Spring) 2013
I really must share all the wonderful things we (mostly ate and) did in Paris – pretty much a list of all the things I loved. I have skipped the things I didn’t like. I am not trying to be a food reviewer or restaurant critic, and this is no part of the Monday Morning Cooking Club project, just my own personal experiences and thoughts about Paris. For what it’s worth.
So here’s our list, not necessarily the ‘must-do’s, just the ‘what we did’ with our highlights: Chez L’ami Jean, Spring, Septime, Le Sergent Recruteur, La Regelade Conservetoire, l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Passage 53, Frenchie, Marche Bastille, Bon Marche, Josephine Chez Dumonet, Bistro Camille, l’Entrecote, Bistro Francis, Monsieur Bleu, Patisserie des Reves, Bistro Volney to eat and Musee d’Art Moderne and Fondation Cartier for the art.
A must-go. Probably my #1 this trip (big call I know). Not to say that I loved every single thing we ordered but this place has soul. Great vibe. And a loud personality-plus chef at the pass. Love it! Hard to choose what to order. Nice relief not to have a set menu (just saying). Sit down, great country bread with a chunky pork terrine and cornichons. Entrée for me was superb. Really great. Duck livers with spring vegetables. Danny had a risotto made from orzo with asparagus and (I think) bone marrow. Was good! But he preferred mine. For mains I went with the lamb three ways – really good rolled slow cooked breast/belly and a fillet that was juicy and flavoursome, which they told me was shoulder. And I still can’t work out what the third little piece was…maybe better that I don’t know. Danny had the guinea fowl, which was great. And a bowl of fabulous buttery mash. My dessert of riz au lait was OUTSTANDING and huge, served with toasted nuts and a wonderful caramel. Loved!! For me it was the best one of the three that I had this trip.
Funny story – I was given a book ‘The Markets of Paris’ and I had brought it on the trip. It was in my bag. As we started chatting to the couple at the (very close) next table, it turns out she is Marjorie Williams, the author of that book (made me happy) with her husband, a Harvard Business School professor (made Danny happy). So she signed my book and it was all very funny! Anyway, it’s a great book – worth looking at for a visit to Paris.
Or maybe this is my #1 this trip. All I can say is book ahead – book way ahead! This is so wonderful. Almost could say my favourite this trip. Beautiful little restaurant where you feel like you are almost in the kitchen with chef Daniel Rose standing right there commandeering the pass. Seasonal ‘surprise’ menu, no choices. Wonderful starters of fried oyster, jamon, smoked potatoes and an exceptional type of tartar sauce. First course red mullet with fois gras, peas in an incredible jus. YUM. Then the highlight was the lobster, asparagus, onion, sauce paloise (béarnaise with mint) and a jus that just made me want to pick up my plate and drink it all. You know the sort of dish that you NEED to mop it up with bread. Fantastic bread and butter, by the way. Main course lamb was excellent with a ‘second course’ lamb neck that was soooo great. Succulent, sweet, a little fatty, slow cooked lamb neck – an OMG moment. Desserts nice, I was really too overwhelmed with the lobster and lamb neck to concentrate on dessert….
Rule #1 – never go to a great restaurant on the first night you arrive from Australia. I can hardly remember it now! Amazing service, lovely waiters and a set (no choice) menu for spring. The entire meal was exceptionally fresh and light. Starting with a plate of raw fish, radish, fish eggs and leaves, then an outstanding salad of artichokes – some cooked the usual way, some sliced and fried – herbs and egg yolk. Lovely trout to follow; then succulent veal with broad beans, clams and garlic, and for dessert strawberries with a sort of nut cake crumble and mint. Need to go back next time.
A surprise last minute booking on a recommendation. Cute semi-formal sort of restaurant with suited staff situated in a part art-deco and part old stone room. Once again a set menu for spring! Highlights were many. The simple radishes for starter with a little mayonnaise, the exceptional soup of radish tops (with dashi only but tasted so creamy and full of flavour), charred spring onions served on a rustic board with another dipping sauce, a lovely salad of spring vegetables from their garden, pigeon with the most succulent little legs. Bread and butter (both made in-house) worth having.
Fantastic bread once again. Served with a ‘help-yourself-to-our-house-terrine’ and a clay pot of cornichons and pickled onions. Entrée was great – huge green asparagus with a herb vinaigrette and sucrine lettuce (little hearts which in the U.S they call ‘little gems’ -my new favourite salad). Delicious! Dessert – riz au lait was really good, served with a caramel sauce.
I am surprised but I loved it. The restaurant consists of a bar (like a sushi bar) that looks into the groovy black kitchen. The bar is great for two, but I am not sure what happens when you go with more. Menus are only in French and the waitstaff are quite helpful (after a while). A la Carte menu with so many choices! Small plates, big plates, all sorts of really tantalizing dishes. What to choose?? So much pressure. Started with a glass of pink bubbly; wonderful little baguettes and superb butter. First course ‘Les Encornets’ – squid with artichoke, then (in search of a memory from Robuchon in 1989) lobster ravioli with truffle and for main we both had an amazing special of pasta with morel mushrooms. Danny had ‘Le Burger’ with fois gras and RAVED (with juice dripping down his chin!) And of course a bowl of the legendary Joel Robuchon Paris mash just because he started it all. Delicious!
Go here if you love Michelin starred fine and delicate French cooking with a Japanese influence. Go here if you want a long, slow and possibly romantic dinner. This is a chef who doesn’t leave one pea unturned!
A stark white restaurant located in the ‘Strand Arcade’ of Paris with polished formal (and great) service. Incredible bread and butter. A set menu for spring, once again. Whether you like a restaurant really depends on whether you are in the mood for their sort of food. I really wasn’t (shame I know) so I will just describe the highlights.
The big highlight for me was the exceptional ‘white course’ – tiny charred squid, cauliflower puree and shaved cauliflower. Beautiful to look at, and utterly delicious. Other highlight was the lamb; I don’t remember eating such soft, succulent and tender lamb – cooked at a very low temperature for a long time apparently!
Would happily go back here every Paris visit. Really yummy food. Here you have a choice of two dishes for each course. Fantastic country style bread and butter. Highlights this visit were the really juicy chicken with morels and asparagus, the amazing crisp skinned red mullet (with artichoke and broad beans) and the rhubarb ‘custard’ tart which was like a crème brulee tart with a layer of rhubarb jam on top of the pastry. Yum!!
Marche Bastille (Blvd Richard Lenoir) – Brittany food stall
If you are at this wonderful food market with everything and anything fresh and seasonal you could want to buy, go to the Brittany food stall and treat yourself to a ‘buckwheat galette’ with jambon and fromage. And don’t mind the extra knobs of butter to enhance the flavours at the end. Perfect food on the go!
Just go to the food hall and have a look. Fabulous.
Sadly I missed this one, but Danny really liked the artichoke salad and RAVED about the boeuf bourguignon. His advice is to make sure you are not in the dining area (and thoroughfare) next to the kitchen. We tried to get another reservation for lunch or dinner so I could go but it was fully booked!
Cute bistro (if you can sit outside) in the Marais. Stop by if you are passing and hungry but don’t need to go out of your way. I enjoyed my salad with marinated crayfish and hard to tell what Danny thought of the bistro’s steak tartare as he added so much lemon and Tabasco that their original recipe became irrelevant.
Don’t think it matters which of the three Paris locations you go to. We call it the ‘Bill and Tony’s’ of Paris. It’s a set two-course meal. For starters, a simple (and so delicious) green salad with radish and walnuts, dressed with a fabulous mustardy vinaigrette. Excellent bread and if you want butter, you need to ask. Your only choice is how you would like your steak cooked. We chose ‘bleu’ and it was SO great. Served sliced with their ‘famous’ (but secret) green sauce and a pile of the most golden crisp pommes frites EVER, you’ll be so happy when the waitress returns and offers you seconds. Make sure you say ‘OUI MERCI!!’ and finish every last bit. A delicious lunch which should be a MUST on every visit to Paris. Mouthwatering!
Bistro Francis (At Alma Marceau just up the road from the Musee d’art Moderne)
We stopped here for a quick something on the way to the museum and shared a really wonderful pate de fois gras with onion compote on toasted country bread. Loved!
If you are visiting the museums around here (including the Palais de Tokyo), this is a great place to stop for lunch. Great vibe, cool gold bar and a delicious sounding menu. I had a salade nicoise that was really simple and lovely. Excellent bread and butter.
La Patisserie des Reves, Rue de Bac
Worth a visit just to see the display. When we went there a few years ago with meg from Paris By Mouth she bought us a kougn amman which (sadly) is not ‘in season’ at the moment and will be baked again soon.
After a week of eating gastronomic delights and set menus, we were just tired of eating that sort of food. This was recommended by the hotel concierge, a busy and cosy restaurant just off the Place Vendome. Go there for the duck and fois gras ‘tourte rustique’ (aka pie) with sucrine (my fave) salad on the side and the most amazing cauliflower gratin I have ever had. Danny loved his Grand Marnier soufflé. The rustic baguettes were fantastic.
Keith Haring and Danh Vo are both a must. Until 18 August.
Ron Mueck is ASTOUNDING. On till 29 September