A LA BICHE AU BOIS - Jan 04, 2012
A la Biche au Bois is one restaurant where you definitely get what you came for. Game and plenty of it. Hearty food, good wine, a super-generous cheese platter, and classic desserts. Whether you’re in the mood for biche (young female deer) or canard sauvage (wild duck) (photo) this classic state-of-the-art bistro is sure to please. The soothing potato puree (from the Agatha variety of potatoes, with 10% butter, the waiter assured) is worth the detour all on its own, as is the sumptuous cheese tray, treasures stacked one on top the other, with favorites Brie, raw milk Camembert, and blue de Causses all in perfect ripeness. There’s a parade of terrines --- rabbit, duck, or a mix of meats – each one better than the other, classic and rich. I don’t remember the last time I saw coq au vin on the menu, but you’ll find it here, meaty and bathed in a vibrant red wine sauce. Oh, and yes, the chocolate mousse is the reason you come to Paris to dine. If the always reliable Côtes-du Rhone Clos du Caillou is still on the wine list, go for it. The meaty red is a Châteauneuf du Pape stand-in if there ever was one. This is a bistro where you’ll find a mixed crowd, from the well-fed SNCF conductor to youthful locals to happy tourists, all feasting on treasures of the day. The 28€ menu is a veritable bargain.
A LA BICHE AU BOIS, 45 avenue Ledru-Rollin, Paris 12 Tel: +33 1 43 43 34 38 Métro: Gare de Lyon or Quai-de-la-Rapée
Open: Monday-Friday. Closed Saturday, Sunday & Monday lunch.Lunch & Dinner: 28€ menu. A la carte, 35€
LE GRAND PAN - Jan 03, 2012
This elbow-to-elbow meat lover’s paradise tucked away in the southern edge of the 15th arrondissement, is a classic of it genre, a bistro where friends gather with two thoughts in mind: Copious food and lots of laughter for the sounds of good times. Waiters all but skate through the crowded duet of dining rooms, arms held high, delivering gigantic seared steaks cooked rare and juicy, double-thick veal chops ok so rosy, thick pork chops and giant bowls of oversized French fries. There’s a good Morgon on the list from winemaker Georges Descombes, a smooth wine with a pleasing flavor of lightly smoked meat. The service is familiar and friendly in the best sort of way, while in the winter months the menu might announce a lovely baked egg topped with slices of authentic, fresh black truffles (photo). If so, go for it!
LE GRAND PAN, 20 rue Rosewald, Paris 15, Tel: +33 1 42 50 02 50 Métro: Plaisance/Convention Open: Monday-Friday. Closed Saturday & Sunday.Lunch: 28€ menu. A la carte, 35-55€ Dinner: A la carte 35-55 €
BACK IN PARIS, CHEZ "AIDA" - Jan 02, 2012
Chef Koji Aida’s evening procession of pure Japanese tastes is a mix of subtle and explosive maneuvers that arise from his steady hand and a magical teppanyaki grill. This austere retaurant set on a quiet 7th arrondissement street near the Bon Marché department store may not be for everyone. Some will find flavors too subtle, or will consider the ceremony more of a side show, even what some call “the Benihana experience.” But to my mind, lovers of pure Japanese food and artistry should do themselves a favor and reserve for an evening’s pleasure. The restaurant is small, with room for just nine at the counter, four in a private room, and two spots for tableside dining. There is a single, set menu that offers a steadied procession of creative, ultra-fresh offerings. In a single dinner, Aida manages to cover extensive ground, with fish, shellfish, meat, eggs and plenty of herbs, spices and vegetables woven into the combination. On my last visit we had a treasured spot at the bar, right in front of the spotless stainless steel griddle. I will never forget – and will forever try to imitate – his plump, soft-cooked egg yolk set in a clear glass vessel (photo), topped with a seaweed and bonito broth laced with bits of black winter truffles. A beautiful work of art on its own, the dish offered lovely textures, mouth pleasures, color, aromas.
BEST BITES FROM BOULEVARD - Apr 25, 2011
Nancy Oakes is one of my favorite chefs, for a meal at her always reliable, always lively restaurant Boulevard in San Francisco is forever memorable. She pleases with ease and flair, and with every bite you feel as though a careful decision has been made to create the perfect pairing of each ingredient. The other evening we feasted on delicate and sweet Royal Sweet Sea Scallops teamed up with spring radishes, toasted hazelnuts, and house pancetta. One of the most remarkable tastes of the meal came with the chewy Monterrey Red Abalone accompanied by a lobster hollandaise and the most amazing, delicate, and full-flavored fried green tomatoes (I want the recipe!) For a real treasure of a dish, try the House Made Ricotta and Nettle Tortelloni (photo) served with a giant mushroom slice, as dense and flavorful as any meat.
Boulevard, 1 Mission Street, San Francisco 94105. Tel 415 543 6084.
LES TABLETTES: TRY AGAIN - Mar 25, 2011
A recent visit to Jean-Louis Nomicos’s new Les Tablettes left me feeling sated but not satisfied. In the space that formerly housed Joel Robuchon’s La Table du Robuchon, the completely redecorated room – designed to make you feel as though you are in a woven market basket – a lot is left to be desired. The 58-euro lunch menu, which includes wine, is not badly priced and I would have felt it was a bargain if the food had sparkled. It didn’t. A daurade tartare paired with shiso and mango seemed to have no point and was simply bland. A langoustine broth with a tiny mound of minced langoustines seemed a waste. The greatest pleasure in these delectable sea creatures is in the airy texture, totally lost here. I did love the gorgeous lamb shoulder, which cut like butter and was bathed in a sparkling sauce laced with spice (photo). A cheese course of fresh goat cheese, Parmesan and apple just made no sense, and a dessert of apple compote is not my idea of dessert. I think the chef is not aware of what incredible competition he has these days in Paris. Time to go back to the drawing board.
OYSTERS WITH OLIVIA - Mar 19, 2011
A memorable, rollicking, and boisterous lunch today with actress and Parisian Olivia de Havilland (age 94 and loving every moment of life) enjoying champagne, briny oysters from Utah Beach, and a few sips of Pouilly Fumé from the Loire Valley. We talked of present moments, old times, and times to come, enjoying it all with my 89-year-old friend Maggie Shapiro and the young Jeannie Fellowes. In the background is Stéphane, who comes in from Normandy each weekend with his oysters. Next weekend is the last weekend for oysters at our favorite oyster spot, Brassierie Aux PTT, 54 rue Cler, Paris 7. +33 1 45 51 94 96. Métro: Ecole-Militaire (line 8).
ANGELA DELIVERS BREAD TO FISH - Mar 07, 2011
I confess that I could easily lunch or dine at the wine bar/restaurant Fish La Boissonerie once a week, and would be totally happy just sipping some delicious wine (our own Clos Chanteduc Cotes du Rhone is on the list now!) and eating the warm and golden brick oven bread from Cosi, just across the street. The friendly Anglophone spot reminds me of the coffee shop from Friends, where you always run into someone you know and always feel at home. Sunday’s lunch was no exception, with the charming Colombian Angela Jaramitto taking orders and delivering fresh bread every few minutes or so (photo).
PHILOU: THE GOOD NEW DAYS - Feb 19, 2011
Modern Parisian bistros know no bounds these days. It's not possible that diners ate better in the “good old days.” Today food is fresher, unmasked, and more wholesome. The bright and lively Philou, home of Philippe Damas ( last seen at Square Trousseau) is a case in point. Damas offers old-time ingredients – like pig’s cheeks and calf’s liver – and serves them up with a simplicity and freshness that is thoroughly appealing. He pairs slow-cooked, moist and meaty pig’s cheeks (photo) with a tangy celery root boulangère (baked in a gratin dish with nothing but chicken stock until all the stock is absorbed) and cooks calf’s liver like a giant piece of meat, with a deeply seared outer crust and moist, rosy interior. I also loved the beautifully marinated fresh sardines, paired with a julienne of apples and set on a bed of warm, bathed potatoes. The choice of wine is excellent : Try the superb 2006 Côtes du Rhone, Vieille Julienne, so rich and powerful it could easily pass as a Châteauneuf du Pape. The tiny place off the Canal Saint Martin is super loud, super fun, and a super bargain.
EUGENE, EUGENE - Feb 18, 2011
There seems to be no end to “outer borough” bargain-priced dining spots and La Table d’Eugène in the 18th arrondissement is surely one to add to the list. Chef-owner Geoffroy Maillard has his finger on it all: a lovely varied menu that makes you want to try everything; service that is as efficient as it can be even when the tiny dining room is packed -- as it always is; and a knack for beautiful food prepared with top-rate ingredients. Lunch choices might include a stunning millefeuille-like dorade tartare stacked between thin slices of daikon and topped with an herb garden salad (photo); an ultra-fresh portion of cod topped with thin slices of Pata Negra ham and a vinaigrette of pequillo peppers and chives, teamed up with a brilliantly devised (though sadly overcooked) watercress risotto; and a soothing seven-hour gigot paired with the freshest of brilliant carrots.
A FIERY TRIP TO CHINA - Feb 09, 2011
I was hungry for Asian and something fiery so settled into a window table at the small, casual Les Pâtes Vivantes on the Boulevard Saint Germain. The satisfying and amazingly long, alabaster handpulled noodles are prepared right in front of you, and one can even follow the action from the street, thanks to a screen with live video hanging in front of the shop. There’s tons to offer here, but we headed straight for the heat, their spicy “crevettes touchant la ciel,” a giant bowl of soothing wheat noodles teamed up with squares of soft tofu, Chinese cabbage, shrimp in the shell, and plenty of Sichwan peppercorns (photo). All that, shared and unfinished, for 12.50 euros. I was in seventh heaven!