18-20, rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles
Metro Station: Place d’Italie (Line 13)
Type of cuisine: French
Days & hours of operation: Mon-Fri 11:45 a.m.-2:10 p.m., 7:15 p.m.-11:45 p.m.
Credit card: Visa
We met our friend Daniel here for dinner on a recent Friday evening. He had recommended this place for its moderate prices and good food. The restaurant exudes old-time charm, with tables covered by a red tablecloth and a paper tablecloth atop that. The walls are cluttered with posters and chalkboards, and on each table are placed a pitcher of water and a canning jar containing small packets of mustard. At the back of the restaurant a sideboard stretches the entire length of the wall, its shelves filled with bottles of wine. The atmosphere signals “down-home French cooking,” and that is what we had the pleasure to experience.
To start, I ordered a Salade de fenouil et de poireaux, and got a generous plate of thinly sliced fennel, leeks, and red and yellow bell pepper, seasoned with a vinaigrette. The vegetables were fresh and appetizing, and I imagined that I could have been at a country inn sampling food fresh off the farm.
For the main course, I ordered Pintade rôtie à la sauce poivre verte, and I opted for an accompanying serving of lentils. The portion that I received was moist and fork-tender, which I appreciated since guinea fowl is less moist than chicken and can easily dry out of not properly prepared. It was served in delicious brown gravy that had been flavored with green peppercorns. The portion of lentils that I was served came with two potatoes, making the entire dish sufficiently hearty for even the hungriest diner.
My partner ordered Boudin noir à la normande, and received a good-sized portion of blood sausage in a brown sauce and topped with thinly-sliced, spiced apple. A side portion of spinach flavored with nutmeg and cream came with the dish. A velvety, rich vegetable dish!
Our friend Daniel ordered a dish of rognons (beef kidneys) served in gravy with a large mound of rice on the side. He declared himself quite satisfied with this course.
Thickly-sliced, fresh baguette was served alongside in a basket.
For the accompanying wine, we ordered a bottle of Chinon – Domaine du Puy – 2007 – Vieilles Vignes. To our surprise and delight, the wine glasses that the waiter placed on the table were etched with the name of this producer. We found this medium-bodied wine from the Loire Valley to be low in tannin, and were quite pleased with our selection.
For dessert, I ordered the Clafoutis de poire à la sauce de chocolat. ″Clafoutis” was a misnomer for this dish, for the portion that I received was tall and cake-like, as opposed to the relatively flat, egg-based, flan-like texture that one normally expects. The layers alternated between cake and thinly-sliced pear, and the generous portion rested in a pool of chocolate syrup with a big dollop of whipped cream alongside. It was a much larger portion than I had anticipated, but I rose to the challenge and finished it off!
The service was friendly, even jovial, and efficient.
Dinner for three, including one starter, three main courses, one dessert, and a bottle of wine came to 63.50€.