Metro Station: Malesherbes (Line 3)
Type of cuisine: French
Days & hours of operation:
Mon and Sat 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Tues to Fri Noon – 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, MasterCard, Amex
The façade of this restaurant—with its tall, wide reflective windows, dark gray trim and grey awning—is contemporary, but uninspiring. Happily, the ambiance within lifted our spirits immediately!
We parted the heavy black curtains that shield the dining room from the cold drafts emanating from the front door and stepped into a dimly lit room. Our eyes focused immediately on the back of the restaurant, where a well-carved leg of ham sat atop a wood-clad bar. There is a bare stone wall to the right, on which hang two large, round mirrors, and a wall painted avocado green to the left, with a niche containing a bouquet of white flowers in a vase. Tables of plank wood, dark tile floors, and soft jazz on the sound system combine with the features of the dining room to create a warm, peaceful effect.
The waitress brought us each a menu and a wine list. She carefully explained the choices that we could make and later answered questions that we had about certain dishes.
Although the restaurant proposes a 28€ three-course lunchtime menu, we decided to order à la carte. We made this decision because we spotted some unusual dishes on the carte that we wanted to try.
We started with an apéritif, a Côtes de Meuse – Domaine de Muzy – Méthode Traditionnelle Rosée. This crisp, sparkling, pale rosé with fine bubbles was quite refreshing.
The waitress brought us an amuse bouche called Tartine de poireaux, a spread made of leeks, lard, and white wine. We spread this on thin slices of toast and found it to be quite savory, but salty, as well.
Soft, fresh, chewy, thick-cut country baguette was served alongside in a cloth bag.
For the first course, I ordered Chorizo des Aldudes, a plate of thin-sliced chorizo from the French Basque country. The sausage, produced by Pierre Oteiza, was spiced with sweet-and-hot paprika. It was flavorful and delicious!
My partner preferred the Crème de racine de persil, a creamy parsley-root soup garnished with a column of light-green foam and a drizzle of oil. The distinctive, subtle flavor of parsley was richly satisfying.
The main course offered some tantalizing choices. I selected Pluma Ibérique, choucroute rouge à la cardamome. The waitress explained that the pluma Ibérique is a special cut of the pig that is favored in Spain, but is unknown to French butchers. Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, a taste of this dish was far more expressive than the technical explanation that the waitress provided about the virtues of this meat. It was a succulent, tender cut of pork whose flavor was marvelous! On the side I received chopped, cooked, dark-red cabbage flavored with cardamom and morsels of chestnut.
My partner was pleased with her Ris de veau en croûte de noisettes, salsifis rôtis, a generous portion of veal sweetbread topped with finely-chopped hazelnuts and served with roasted salsify. The sweetbread was firm, yet tender, with a subtle flavor. The salsifies (an edible taproot) were cooked to perfection—slightly crunchy, not stringy, and quite filling.
We selected wine by the glass to accompany our meal. I requested a Cabardès — Château Salitis 2006 from Languedoc. It was a rich, medium-bodied, slightly astringent, dark-ruby wine. My partner chose the Saint-Véran — Domaine de la Pierre des Dames 2008, a white, medium-bodied Burgundy wine with a hint of licorice that the chef recommended to accompany the sweetbread. We were both pleased with our wines, which were wonderful alone as well as with our chosen dishes.
Following this gourmet feast, the desserts promised a spectacular finish. My dish of Chocolat, marron et potimarron arrived with several thin slices of sugared yuzu, an aromatic citrus fruit with origins in East Asia. On top of a small, round chocolate cake lay a long, cylindrical, chocolate tuile cookie filled with pumpkin-flavored cream. Next to this sculptural presentation were four dabs of chestnut cream. The rich chocolate cake had a pillowy texture and the long tuile cookie was crunchy and creamy at the same time. A delectable finish!
My partner’s Cheesecake et fruits was served on a disc of shortbread crust. The topping consisted of light, airy fromage blanc flavored with vanilla and topped with candied kumquats and fresh orange slices. Light syrup drizzled on the plate served as garnish. This was an appropriate end to a very rich meal.
The bill for two persons, including two apéritifs, two glasses of wine, two starters, two main courses, two desserts, and an espresso, came to 94.70€.
The service was particularly helpful. As we have noted, the waitress made a special effort to assure that we understood the choices on the menu and to advise us on the selection of wines. We recommend Les Grandes Bouches as a great place to go for travelers who want to try imaginative, unusual food preparations.
Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first traveled to France in 1975. A native of northern California, he moved to France permanently in 1992. Reeves’ love of French language and culture inspired him to create Discover Paris!, a travel planning service that caters to Americans interested in cultural travel to Paris. His book, Paris Insights – An Anthology, has been called “the kind of insider’s view of the French capital…that first or even second time visitors pine for.” He publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Paris Insights about history, culture, and contemporary life in the City of Light, and posts daily information about the French capital on Facebook.