Oscar le Restaurant, Paris Sunday, Sep 29 2013 

It has been a strange end of summer in Paris. Just when you think autumn is settling in for good and you have seen the last rays of sun, summer comes back. Last week certainly was very nice, with warm days and fresh nights, so, last Friday, with an upcoming trip to Northern Germany and a conference call ahead of us, we decided to have lunch outside. My colleague, a sun-loving Dane, and I set off towards the place du Marché Saint Honoré but the terraces were already packed. I then remembered seeing a restaurant with seats outside on the nearby rue des Pyramides. We sat down at a table in the shade of the Eglise Saint Roch (while we would have liked some sun on that day, it would be welcome on hotter days), quite far from the other guests so that we were not suffocated by smoke. The distance was also sufficient enough to make the boisterous gentleman’s talk of his wide experience of the Anglo-Saxon world (commonplace in Paris, as French people can be both fascinated and repulsed by their experience in NY or London – few venture beyond) more amusing than annoying. We ordered some tomato pasta, and the risotto of the day. After some time, the owner arrived and apologised because she had mistakenly asked the kitchen for a spinach risotto. With time pressing on us, I settled for the spinach risotto and the owner promised me a coffee to make up for it. While the risotto was a bit too creamy and cooked for my liking, it was nevertheless acceptable and I was told the pasta was equally good. The tap water was also chilled and drinkable.

In total, the bill came to 35 euros and I was a bit disapponted to find out I had actually been charged for the more expensive risotto (the one which I had NOT ordered but nonetheless got). Maybe it was the owner’s Rolex Daytona, or the fact she brought us chocolate even after I had refused coffee, but I did not complain.

Before leaving to buy coffee from nearby Verlet, we reflected on the meal and acknowledged that we would have paid marginally less to be closer to other guests and perhaps eat lower quality food on the place du Marché Saint-Honoré. I never thought I would say that, but you have to be realistic about this area of Paris, which is enjoying unprecented levels of wealth and affluence: among the many tourist traps that litter the place, I probably would return to Oscar.

Ferret’s findings Tuesday, Aug 27 2013 

Five ferrety posts you may not have seen yet! Apart from a few relatively new posts that you may not have seen yet, take time to check out these vintage wonders that have been read only by a lucky few:

  1. Spice up your life! In which Ferret extols the virtues of ginger.
  2. Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares! In which Ferret wonders how far the outbursts on this popular show are staged.
  3. Food Book Review: Food and Philosophy. In which Ferret muses over many deep foodie questions, including the criminality of pickiness and whether food critics’ views are really ‘truer’ than ours, or if they’re just more eloquent.
  4. Restaurant Review: Georgia Brown’s. In which Ferret visits this heartland of Southern American cuisine.
  5. Wake up and smell the coffee. In which Ferret sings the praises of its chosen coffee machine.

Time-travel back through the annals of FFW and enjoy 🙂

Restaurant Review: Ellen’s Stardust Diner, NYC Sunday, Aug 4 2013 

ellens1On our most recent trip to New York City, I decided an appropriately ‘fun’ surprise would be to take my husband to Ellen’s Stardust Diner. This was my second choice, after reading online that late-1990s favourite Mars 2112 had declined significantly in the intervening years. So Ellen’s it was! I helpfully neglected to tell him indoors that the main feature of Ellen’s is the restaurant’s singing wait staff, who sing songs from Broadway musicals. Did I mention that his favourite musical was this?:

i.e., THAT HE DOESN’T LIKE MUSICALS?

(This makes me a really bad person, doesn’t it?)

So apart from this being a place that most likely didn’t float my husband’s boat as much as mine (I LOVE musicals), was there anything else for us to dislike?

Unfortunately, yes.

First of all, there was the line. I know that it was a Saturday night in New York City, in what was beginning to be high season (early May). However, there was nothing on the website that indicated that you ought to reserve a seat or indeed that this was even possible (looking at it again, they only accept reservations for parties over 20 people). So to find a queue that literally stretched out the restaurant door, round the corner and along the pavement was a little bit of a shock. To have to wait half an hour to even get in the door, for something that you know won’t be gourmet cuisine, is never the best start to the evening, despite the concierge’s clear efforts and communication showing that they were doing everything possible to get everyone seated quickly.

But eventually we got in, and were ushered to one of the balcony/gallery seats, which doesn’t affect your view of the action, as the singing waitstaff are naturally moving around constantly to serve food and to sing. There’s certainly no danger of you not hearing the action, as the acoustics are certainly loud even if they’re not very refined or balanced. (Singers sometimes missed their cues thanks to the noise of the restaurant drowning out the backing track.) The loud music serves to make this the main event, rather than the 50s diner-inspired food, which is in some ways a good thing (or perhaps not, if you don’t like musicals). More on this later.

We all know that wait staff in America are paid badly and rely heavily on tips to make a living, which to me seems inherently wrong. What seems even more wrong (if that’s possible) at Ellen’s is that staff effectively beg for even more tips by passing around a bucket as ‘payment’ for their singing. Of course customers aren’t obliged to pay up, but it does make you wonder: just how badly are they being paid? Are they being exploited, or just maximising their resources?

This all serves to distract diners from their food, which is average at best. The ice-cream soda I had at the start was frankly the best bit, and probably only for the novelty of it. Our main courses (Brooklyn Brisket – a steak and provolone sandwich served with potato pancakes – and Stardust Nachos) were huge and greasy. I know it’s America, but surely smaller, better-quality portions are the way forward? Or is the hope that you’ll be so distracted by the singing that you won’t give a monkey’s about what you’re eating?

This all came to $50, including tax and the requisite tip, which seemed too much for what we got. (Bear in mind we ordered no desserts, no side dishes, and no drinks other than the ice cream soda.) Yes, I know it’s New York, on a Saturday night, at the beginning of high season, at what I understand is a relatively high-profile establishment. But surely quality of food has to count for something? We were left feeling disappointed at the mediocrity of the whole thing and generally poor value for money. It’s probably a good visit if you go with mid-week with friends who love musicals as much as you do, and if you just want to eat ice cream. But apart from that, we came to the conclusion that we’d rather stay home, make our own food, and watch the Simpsons’ musical version of Planet Of The Apes, as all Ellen’s did was make a monkey out of us.

1650 Broadway @ 51st Street, NY 10019

Reservations only accepted for parties over 20 people. Phone 212-956-5151.

http://www.ellensstardustdiner.com/

Restaurant Review: Cay Tre, London Sunday, Mar 10 2013 

Staying in one of the busiest parts of London – Trafalgar Square – this weekend, we knew we would have no problem finding a place to eat after a concert we were attending at St-Martin-in-the-Fields. Soho is just a few minutes’ walk away and this opens up the possibility of restaurants of just about all varieties. However, we eventually settled on a Vietnamese restaurant called Cay Tre, and booked online a few days before. We were glad we did this, as when we got there, even with it being 9.45pm, it was absolutely packed. We took this to be a good sign, and were keen to fill our bellies with their delicious fare, having had our second main meal of the day in the form of afternoon tea around five hours earlier.

Looking at the menu, I found I wanted pretty much everything (the Cha La Lot dumplings in particular sounded to die for), so the set menu, by which we got to taste a wide range of dishes, seemed to be a good bet. At £22 per person, it’s ideal for sharing, with everything served on large plates that are placed in the centre of the table, making for a very sociable experience. The surroundings also lend themselves to a lively atmosphere: servers and chefs are extremely efficient, and with tables placed close together, it’s without doubt a place for mixing with friends, rather than cosy romance. This could go well or badly depending on who you’re sat next to: the groups on tables near us were mostly discreet, but a more boisterous gang arrived later (luckily just as we were finishing).

We ordered non-alcoholic cocktails to go with our set menu, which were delivered swiftly from the bar with varying degrees of innovation and flavour. The Hanoi Red River delivered an intensely fruity hit thanks to its blend of guava, lime leaf, passion fruit and coconut water, while the Saigon Lime Soda tasted more of soda water than of lime (only lime wedges and a kaffir lime leaf provided the faint lime flavour). These were extremely reasonably priced, however, coming in at £4 and £3.50 respectively. Plenty of alcoholic beverages are also available, ranging from Japanese wine to Vietnam-themed punches.

Also of good value was the set menu itself. The sharing platter (the ‘starters’, if you will) is the same for all: pork spring rolls, chilli and salt pepper squid, lotus stem salad, wild shrimp rolls, and the cha la lot that I’d been ogling earlier. The stars of the plate were without doubt the cha la lot and the deep-fried squid, although the shrimp and pork rolls were not without merit. Two different dips were brought: chilli oil, and hoisin. Extra hoisin and chilli sauces were available on the table in case extra was required.

As for the main, each person chooses one from a set list, along with a side order each. If there are 6 of you in your party, this means you really do get to try everything. As for us, we went for the slow-cooked Mekong catfish and the roast baby chicken royale for the mains, and jasmine rice with Chinese mustard green for the sides. When it arrived, it was all thoroughly delicious: the catfish came in a spicy red sauce with enormous depth of flavour, and was so tender that you could cut it with your chopsticks. The baby chicken, too, was moist and well-seasoned, and came with a sauce that took it far away from a traditional Sunday roast. Also up for commendation were the greens; they were crunchy without being under-cooked, and offered even further energy and refreshment to proceedings. We had only one complaint: portion sizes were far too large and we felt really guilty about wasting almost half the food. While we do feel that what we ate was good value, we would rather have smaller portion sizes, with the option to order more food if necessary, rather than paying for food that we didn’t eat. We would have taken the leftovers away with us, but would not be returning home until the next day, and draw the line at Vietnamese food for breakfast.

Desserts do not appear to be offered at Cay Tre, but needless to say we did not require them anyway.

Cay Tre is definitely worth another visit, with branches in Soho and Shoreditch to choose from. However, ordering the set menu is only advised if starving hungry, with the à la carte options being far better choices if not.

http://www.caytresoho.co.uk/

42-43 Dean Street, London

Le Pur’, Park-Hyatt Paris-Vendôme Sunday, Nov 25 2012 

I was lucky enough to be recently invited for an evening at this fashionable restaurant in one of the most sought-after districts of Paris. After a warm welcome from the numerous staff, I found the other guests (French, Dutch and German people were around the table that night) enjoying a round of drinks. I accepted a glass of Puligny-Montrachet, which proved to be excellent after it had had the chance to warm up a bit (I have found it is quite common  for restaurants to serve white wine too cold and red wine too hot). While everybody was perusing the menu, I looked at the surroundings of elegant decoration and understated luxury – this is certainly not a place where you will be expected to sit within inches of the next table’s diners, as is often the case in Paris. After a rather tasty array of amuse-bouches, the food arrived. I had gone for abalone with a red pepper chutney and disappointment started to sink in: the taste of the sea food was overshadowed by the chutney, which tasted frankly unrefined to me, with the wrong balance of seasoning and herbs reminiscent of tinned food. The Puligny, however, still proved eminently quaffable, as did the red 2001 Hermitage “Petite Chapelle” from Jaboulet I had chosen from the impressive (but overpriced) winelist: at €155 a bottle, this mature Hermitage seemed to make a lot more sense than the recent Côte-Rotie at the same price. Other Rhône valley wines under €100 may prove a good option, such as Stéphane Montez’s Saint Joseph. I was back on the Puligny for my main of veal sweetbread cooked with seaweed butter, which proved equally disappointing, as the richness of the sweetbread was not counterbalanced by any sharper ingredients. Perhaps I was a little biased by this point, but I was also not taken by the cheese. I left after a pre-dessert amuse-bouche and a (also disappointing) coffee, but I have to admit the desserts looked good (as experienced with Ferret on one occasion for tea).

On the whole, for a Michelin-starred restaurant in one of the most prestigious hotel chains, I would say this restaurant fails to deliver, especially at the rarefied level of prices it commands (at least €300 for two). My boss, a regular, agrees, while a collaborator, who was lucky enough to enjoy a romantic dinner there, told me she had never experienced food this nice. Given the prices involved, and unless you happen to be staying at this hotel or enjoy celebrity spotting, I would not even recommend trying to find out who was right: there are plenty of other options to enjoy a quiet and luxurious night in this area of Paris, such as for instance the restaurant at the nearby hotel Scribe, managed brilliantly by Sofitel.

  • 5 rue de la Paix 75002 Paris
  • +33 1 58 71 10 60
  • paris-restaurant-pur.fr/

Le bistrot du cuisinier, Blois Thursday, Aug 16 2012 

We arrived in the town of Blois, a couple of hours away from Paris, at midday on a hot and sunny August Saturday. I initially wanted to lunch at the Mercure located on the quays of the Loire, but the hotel’s restaurant is now shut for lunch. The friendly receptionist was however kind enough to recommend a restaurant, located about 10 minutes’ walk away on the other bank of the River, facing the old town.
Le bistrot du cuisinier was easy to find and we were quickly sat in a modern looking interior where tables are well spaced apart. We settled for the €19.50 lunch menu, which proved excellent value for money, and all went for the same food, accompanied by a reasonably priced glass of white Chinon 2011.
The meal started with a vegetable gaspacho and salmon cake. The ingredients were fresh and tasty, but the fish cake was maybe a tad dry. Fish followed fish (duck was also an option, but it was to be on our menu that night), with a trout ballotine and creamy girolles risotto. This course was better, with a succulent risotto and well cooked mushrooms (even though I wish the fish had been less cooked) and also went well with the minerally and appetising Chinon. We finished with a verrine of caramel ice cream with salted butter, chocolate mousse and bailey’s cream. These ingredients nicely complemented each other and the dessert was therefore balanced and light. I also noticed that, despite the high heat that day, we did not feel bloated or too thirsty after this meal, which is a sign that fresh ingredients and reasonable seasoning were used.
As a consequence, we were able to discover the many gems of Blois, including the Renaissance castle, the rose garden and the museum of magic.

Restaurant Review: The Mermaid Inn, New York Monday, Aug 6 2012 

This was where we dined on our final night in New York City during our winter holiday this year (I know I’m way behind schedule in the review, but don’t worry – it was so memorable that I’m sure I won’t miss a thing). We had to go a little off the beaten track for this one compared to previous dining destinations, but it proved well worth it and you needn’t worry about doing the same (although there are three locations across the city, so you can always just select whichever one is most convenient – I’m confident of a high standard across the board).

Servers are enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable, and are practically falling over themselves to give you details of dishes you enquire about (this is a good thing!). On the back of their advice, we plumped for what ended up being delicious salt cod croquettes (well-seasoned and made using high-quality ingredients), and innovatively-served lobster pieces in an escargot plate, which came with supremely flavoured parsley butter and grilled rustic-style bread. While the venue is known for its oysters, served in a variety of ways, there are choices to please everyone, from tuna and gazpacho to tacos and skate.

It was difficult to know how to top that, but in the end we both went for the blackened catfish. And what a success – intense, unusual, and tons of flavour from this fish that’s little-found in restaurants where we live. What with this and the crayfish butter, two glasses of Mosel Riesling (probably the best wine on this American trip), and the unlimited iced water on tap, we were as full as could be by the end of the meal. I joked to my husband that it was a good job the Mermaid Inn did not offer desserts (despite my being a proper dessert lover), as I would not have had room for one.

However, a tiny one was thrown in as a bonus – with each of our (complimentary!) espressos (…they must have liked our accents or something…) came a miniature chocolate fondant (predictably, regardless of allegedly “not having room for dessert”, I managed to make room in my pudding stomach for mine anyway). The total bill was $97 for two, which some might say seems a little dear – but to us it seemed reasonable for the perfect food, attentive service, and quirky addition of a Chinese fortune teller fish at the end of the meal. We would definitely return.

http://www.themermaidnyc.com/

We visited The Mermaid Inn at 568 Amsterdam Avenue, 10024 NY. You can also visit the locations at 79 Macdougal Street (10012) and 96 Second Avenue (5th/6th; 10003).

Restaurant Review: Le Mangevins, Tain l’Hermitage Sunday, Jun 10 2012 

The town of Tain l’Hermitage, arguably the oenological epicentre of the Northern Rhone valley, was our choice of destination for our first wedding anniversary lunch, with the restaurant selection – Le Mangevins – having caught our eye from the pages of the magazine Revue de Vins de France. Truth be told, the venue makes an excellent location not just for special occasion meals like this one, but also proves a regular haunt for locals’ weekday lunches. It’s not hard to see why: you get luxury and authenticity combined with affordability (there are no lunchtime deals, but two courses cost around €25). And the town itself is also quite a catch – you could easily spend a whole day here, not because it’s a raving metropolis (it isn’t) but more due to its wealth of wine-tasting activities at producers such as Chapoutier, shops selling foie gras, and proximity to the Valrhona chocolate factory.

Le Mangevins itself is not set in the most scenic of territories thanks to its roadside location, which also makes parking a bit of a gamble. However, once inside there is no danger of being bothered in the least by this. The fact that the restaurant has a mere 22 covers makes for an intimate and sociable feel without the impression of others invading your personal space, and while the red and black colour scheme is a bit populist, this is compensated for by the wine barrels and wooden cladding, which add individuality and rusticity to the decoration. Barstools, padded benches and cushioned chairs make for modern yet sumptuous seating that many Parisian restaurants could learn a lot from.

Equal emphasis is placed on food and wine at Le Mangevins. A pared-down menu with just a few choices implies that quality, not quantity, is concentrated on, and there is a range of carefully-selected affordable local wines available by the bottle and by the glass. We initially chose a 2008 Cornas from Courbis. Its vintage makes for a lighter wine, but it was nonetheless smoky, authentic and rich – making a perfect match for the complimentary charcuterie and crusty bread that preceded our main course.

Service was surprisingly friendly and attentive for France and the food also not only met but exceeded our expectations. The slow-roasted lamb proved tender and flavourful, and was accompanied by plenty of vegetables and potatoes (more in fact than we could eat). Following this was the cheese, a platter of high-quality selections from the Auvergne (we were surprised that they weren’t local, but they tasted fabulous nonetheless) – a St-Nectaire, a Reblochon-like cheese with a charcoaly and Cheddar-like flavour, and a blue cheese that came with chutney. With this, we drank a Crozes-Hermitage white from Vincent Jaboulet, which was herbal and not in the least overpowering.

Where the restaurant didn’t go local with the cheese, they did with the dessert – a Valrhona chocolate fondant ticked all the right boxes and would go the distance in any setting, whether you’re there for romance or to party. Finally, Nespresso coffee was served accompanied by Valrhona chocolate (total bill for the two of us: €78), and by this time the social yet civilised atmosphere was winding down into near-total silence as customers began to leave their long and relaxing lunches (it’s good to see that the 2-hour weekday lunch still survives in some areas of France). Everyone seemed satisfied; Le Mangevins’ passionate and knowledgeable approach to its food, wine and ingredients is clear for all to see, and it was a perfect way to celebrate our first wedding anniversary before heading to the Valrhona factory around the corner for the obligatory chocolate-based stupor.

6 Avenue Docteur Paul Durand, 26600 Tain l’Hermitage

00 33 4 75 07 73 85

Restaurant Review: La Table de la Bergerie Friday, Oct 28 2011 

Ably chosen by my husband, La Table de la Bergerie is a rising star of a restaurant located in Champ-sur-Layon, near Angers. While the 30-year-old chef, David Guitton, doesn’t have a Michelin star yet, if you give it a few years then he probably will have.

This is not exactly belied by the interiors, though: despite its rustic yet polished charm, achieved by its wooden floors, linen napkins, lack of tablecloths, exposed bricks, beams, wood and wine bottles, discreet lighting and stunning views, this is let down (albeit only a tiny bit) by the red and black chairs, which is a colour scheme I think I must have seen in at least 3 restaurants in as many months. However, the rest does make up for it, and as well as seeing the chef capitalise on local produce (a list of his producers can be found inside the menu), he also uses local slate as placemats. The French doors make excellent use of natural light and sofas on the terrace allow visitors to linger and enjoy the views of the vines for even longer after their meals.

You also get a clear view of the totally exposed, very small kitchen, proving that excellent professional cooking can take place even in a tiny space. The restaurant itself is small, too, with only 22 covers (book early!), but there are only 3 staff, and they do everything, from maître d’ and waiting on tables to the cooking and cleaning. The friendliness and attentiveness of the service we received is even more remarkable in the face of the extreme multi-tasking we witnessed. The soundtrack of Norah Jones and Katie Melua could have easily proved incongruous, but in fact it works perfectly for an idyllic Sunday setting.

The price bracket of this restaurant attracts pensioners and young families alike, although it’s arguably not an especially family-friendly environment thanks to its sophisticated menu and lack of space to manoeuvre buggies and high chairs. We paid €33 each for a four-course menu, plus a €12 supplement for four small glasses of wine, which were specially chosen by the chef to complement the food. The servings of the wine were extremely generous for the money, but is ultimately too much if you need to drive! A shame, as Jean-Marc was unable to profit fully from the glasses of wine he had paid for.

We were the first to arrive, but the restaurant was full by 1pm. The scene is further complemented by orchids, corks, and modern art, and you’d think that all of this would make such a small place seem cluttered; strangely, it doesn’t. Plants, rather than flowers, also adorn the tables. We had plenty of time to admire all of this during the languorous three-hour meal, which kicked off with coquilles St Jacques, served with a shiitake mixture inside spring-roll style confections, and a basil pistou. This was accompanied by a 2006 Savennières Croix Picaud, which was crisp, citric and lingering, cohering and smoothening more when consumed with food. Pine nuts completed the colourful, flavourful and innovative ensemble.

Our main course of hare further intensified the experience with its well-seasoned and incredibly rich flavours. Cooked to perfection, it was served on a bed of creamy polenta. The meat had a gamey flavour, which was reminiscent of both offal and pigeon at certain moments, and which was complemented perfectly by the second wine, an Anjou Villages red from 2001. This bonfirey and autumnal wine would suit any Lapsang Souchong lover down to the ground; its mature red fruits harmonised beautifully with the hare and did a great deal to make the meal a truly memorable experience.

As we have experienced in many French restaurants – surprisingly, perhaps, for the land of wine and cheese – the cheese course (served with an original red Anjou Villages from 2008) was the weakest of the four. Even though the cheeses were of high quality, it lacked innovation and attention in both choice and manner of serving – although as mentioned, with only three staff members who presumably have a lot on their plate, it’s certainly understandable that they’re not going to bring you a trolley of choices to select from.

It was a sweet white Anjou from 2009 that accompanied our desserts. In the red corner: an apple tart with caramel and sesame seeds, plus a cider sorbet (while delicious, the sorbet lamentably did not taste distinctively of cider). In the blue corner, a fig tart with grape sorbet. The dried figs were not too hard, and both tarts were warmed through, as well as being united by a puff pastry-meets-shortbread type crust.

The coffee, like the cheese, seemed to have slightly less effort put in. Nespresso coffee is good quality coffee without doubt; with this I have no issue. But at €47,50 each, no petits fours?! Still, perhaps I have just been spoilt. Nonetheless, an excellent taste experience all round, crowned with sun, vines and excellent wines. Would return.

La Table de la Bergerie
La Bergerie
49380 Champ s/Layon
Tél. 02 41 78 30 62
http://www.latable-bergerie.fr/

Restaurant Review: Les Tontons Wednesday, Oct 26 2011 

I went to Les Tontons one weekday lunchtime to kill time and mark books in a more agreeable setting, as well as just generally having a more upmarket lunch than I usually have. I had reserved in advance, but it turned out there was no need: apart from a few old blokes sitting at the bar, there was nobody else there when I arrived (at 12.30, if I remember rightly). The proprietor also greeted me by my first name (which I had put into the online reservation form at TopTable.com), which, I assure you, is highly unusual. This therefore foxed me a bit, but at the same time I also quite liked it.

Chosen for its affordable, traditional menu and its proximity to my work, it’s true that Les Tontons is on a busy road, so perhaps not the most tranquil setting. However, the sun was shining and you do get a view of the Parc Georges Brassens, which is just across the street. I went for their set menu, which, if I recall correctly, came to just €18. It may have even been less than that (I’ll let you know if I ever manage to dig out the receipt). It also accepted a restaurant voucher (or “ticket resto”) or two that I had in my purse, so also handy for those working in the area (though to be fair, most places do take these).

I plumped for the “main and dessert” option and ordered a carafe of tap water to go with it. I didn’t have to wait too long at all and service was generally attentive, except towards the end of my meal, where I ended up going to the bar to get my bill (not sure whether this is standard practice in these kinds of places, though). While I was waiting, though, I got to admire my surroundings: the traditional French decor was enhanced by Bugsy Malone-style crime scene photographs, and quotations from French luminaries scrawled across walls. Traditional with a twist – just what I like.

I had ordered a ‘bavette’, which is basically the flank cut of beef, and like in any half decent French restaurant, I was asked how I wanted it cooked (and, furthermore, when it arrived it was cooked exactly to my taste). It came with a basic green salad and some adequate chips, but the star of the show was really the “sauce au poivre” which, although rather liquidy, proved excellent for dipping the meat into. I chased all of this down with a reasonably-priced, yet still just average glass of Côte du Rhône.

Dessert was less promising: the cherry tart was more cake than cherries and the colour of the sauce that came with it was practically luminous, which did not do much to instil confidence. Indeed, the disparity between the quality of the main course and the quality of the dessert was really quite surprising. I followed it up with a coffee: as mentioned in previous posts, this is generally a mistake due to my ongoing love affair with my Odea Go. Perhaps as expected, it too was mediocre.

As mentioned, I had to go to the bar for my bill, rather than having it brought to my table (the restaurant had filled up significantly during the time of my meal). The bill was settled swiftly and with quite uncharacteristic friendliness, but the shine was taken off the thing by the fact of small bowls of Haribo being placed along the bar. Nuts or mints give a better impression and are more appropriate accompaniments or ends to a drink or meal. But Haribo? Really?

At €18 for a main, dessert and glass of wine, I’d say this came in at great value – especially for a Parisian venue. While perhaps next time I would not bother with dessert (a first for me – believe me!), I would definitely return for the warm atmosphere, convenient location, and excellent bavettes.

73 rue de Brancion, 75015 PARIS

01 45 33 87 22

Next Page »