Spring, Paris.

June 2015

There are a lot of places to choose from in this wonderful town. These days they say most of the hot tickets are run by Americans, and the old bistrot and haute cuisine has fallen a bit out of favour. What we find is that there is a new sweet spot on the curve, mostly places with no Michelin stars, but serving creative and delicious food for a reasonable price. And this place sits in the middle of that territory on the graph.

It’s a dubious-looking location along a street of warehouses and old apartment entrances, although just off the 1st arrondisement central Musee de Louvre intersection. Through the door, there’s a classy young welcome to the complex two-storey space filled with lovely smells. We were taken downstairs where finished wooden tables are set up with simple cutlery and linen.

The idea is a single surprise fixed menu, which is a great relief if you were worrying about having to choose among a dozen delicacies, but could be a problem if you had something specific in mind or really don’t like something else that they serve. They did canvass us about sweetbreads (two of us liked them and two of us didn’t) but otherwise the only choice we had to make was wine. We started with a glass of nice champagne.

Amuse-geule was a trio of fois gras, smoked eel, and pickled eggplant with a drop of balsamic. Delicious, especially the eel. Next was a shallow bowl of peas, mint, radishes, and cooked mackerel which was the low point for me. I think the oily fish was overcooked, and the whole thing could’ve used some salt. But next came an absolutely fabulous oeufs-meurette takeoff of foamed sauce, morels, and a very softly-boiled egg. Heartwarming and needing the spoon provided to finish it up.

The main was a medallion of veal with veal reduction that was pretty lean and maybe just a shade lacking in flavour, but more than pleasant soaking up the glaze with each bite. I did ask for salt at this point and it benefited. Accompanying this course was a little broiling pan containing, for us, sweetbread which had been grilled and then cut in half along with another reduction sauce and some little roasted potatoes. The sweetbread was lovely, tender and crisp, and the sauce and potatoes flavourful and succulent.

I was just beginning to wonder how much longer things were going to go on when a festival of blackberry clafoutis, pistachio ice cream, and a chocolate mousse arrived. They were all lovely, although maybe the chocolate mousse was a bit on the (trendy) dark chocolate side for me. It contained some crunchy bits that were satisfying but it needed to be sweeter.

We drank a white and red Burgundy, the latter a Gevrey-Chambertin village from Trapet, 2011. Both were at least dead-centre for their product, the white (which my friend ordered and I didn’t catch the name of) maybe a bit better, the Trapet village mildly over-acidic and frankly too young but still high class pinot noir. Our servers were charming young guys with a sense of humour speaking colloquial English when needed.

€525, just over C$700 out the door for four people. This is about as much as we pay these days for a fancy dinner, and it doesn’t need to get a whole lot better than this to make us happy. $175 per person, arguably six courses all or nearly all excellent, and two bottles of very nice wine seems to me a fair trade in 2015 based on my experience.

We would go back again for a special night out. Food 9.2, service 8.5, ambience 8.3, value 7.0.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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