25, rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin
Metro Station: Strasbourg Saint-Denis (Line 4)
Type of cuisine: French
Days & hours of operation: Mon-Sat noon-2:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m.-midnight
Credit card: Visa, MC, Amex
Le Comptoir des Artistes is located in one of Paris’s theater districts, hence its name, which translates as “the artists’ bar.” The interior of the restaurant is subdued, with plush, red velour benches and chairs; dark, wooden tables; velour-textured wallpaper with matching curtains; and a dark, wooden floor. The overall effect looks quite swanky!
When we entered for lunch a few minutes before opening time on a recent Saturday, the director of the restaurant, Olivier Descouts, immediately snapped to attention and bid us welcome. From that time on his service was attentive and correct, even as the dining room began filling up with other customers.
We ordered apéritifs of kir and red port wine, and were served hors d’oeuvres consisting of black olives and salted peanuts.
For the starter, I opted for the Escargots de Bourgogne sauvages et rattes de Noirmoutier en poëlée. This was an exceptional dish of wild snails from Burgundy and potatoes from the Island of Noirmoutier. I rarely order snails because they are usually prepared with lots of garlic, but this dish was prepared with butter and minced parsley, with very little garlic. It was a delicious dish, and I was glad that I had overruled my aversion to this pungent ingredient. My partner ordered the Ravioles de Royans aux fromages, fondue de tomate. This is a traditional dish from Royans, consisting of tiny raviolis stuffed with cheese and herbs. The pasta was served in a cheesy cream sauce with a dollop of reduced tomatoes on top. Because it was served in a platter with a deep center and a wide brim, the portion was larger than it appeared, and my partner wondered whether or not she would be able to tackle the main course.
My main course was also exceptional. I ordered Saint Jacques beurre blanc au Noilly Prat, juilliène de poireaux. I received six plump, succulent scallops prepared in a hot butter sauce made with a reduction of Noilly Prat, a vermouth from Marseillan in southern France. The side dish was a creamy portion of jullienned leeks. My partner chose the Suprême de volaille de Bresse aux morilles. The breast and upper part of the wing were served in a caramel-colored sauce dotted with a few morel mushrooms. A large portion of white rice was served alongside. The skin of the bird was blackened and had a burnt flavor. The breast was unevenly cooked, such that some areas were perfectly tender while others were a tad dry. Overall, my partner was disappointed with this dish.
To accompany the meal we ordered Meursault by the glass. This white wine from the Burgundy region of France is made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. We enjoyed its aromas of almond, apple, and nut immensely.
Warm bread rolls were served alongside in a basket.
Dessert was the pièce de résistance of the meal. I ordered Crêpes Suzette en cassoulette de cuivre, Grand Marnier rouge, and received a flaming crêpe folded in quarters, soaked in Grand Marnier, and served in a copper cassoulette. The bitter-sweet flavor of the Grand Marnier was intense, with bits of orange peel adding zest to the dish. My partner opted for a Tarte fine aux figues et glace vanille, which consisted of a buttery crust layered with thinly sliced, partially dried figs topped with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. A caramel sauce, a dusting of powdered sugar, and a sprig of red currants served as garnish. My partner considered this to be the best part of her meal.
The bill for two, including two aperitifs, two starters, two main courses, two desserts, and three glasses of Meursault came to 139€.