Metro Station: Goncourt (Line 11)
Type of cuisine: French
Days & hours of operation: Mon to Sat Noon – 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, MasterCard
Tucked away between the Saint-Martin Canal and the Saint-Louis Hospital, this little restaurant bears more resemblance to a cluttered, second-hand bric-a-brac shop than to a dining establishment. But intrepid diners should not hesitate to enter and squeeze into the limited-space seating area for a dining experience that they are not likely soon to forget.
The restaurant specializes in goose dishes, and one will find breast of goose on the menu. Foie gras of duck is also featured here, but oddly enough, not foie gras of goose.
Shortly after we were seated, we each ordered a glass of sparkling, refreshing Xavier Laluc champagne as an apéritif.
The restaurant offers a 24 €, three-course, fixed-price menu. (Price supplements apply to some of the dishes.) We were pleased to learn that not only does the menu list a wide number of dishes to choose from, but the restaurant also proposes a number of plats du jour (specials of the day).
For my three-course meal, I ordered from the “plats du jour” menu. My partner ordered from the standard menu.
My starter was called Délices de foie de volailles au cognac et rillettes de cochon. I was served a plate upon which rested a portion of intensely flavorful pâté of fowl liver and a scoop of mildly-flavored shredded pork. Both of these meat preparations were appetizing, but the slightly bitter liver pâté laced with cognac commanded the greatest attention from my taste buds.
My partner was not as satisfied with her Salade de chèvre frais rôti et sésame grillée. It consisted of a mixed-green salad containing three discs of fresh goat cheese on rounds of toasted baguette, topped with sesame seeds. The cheese was only lukewarm and the sesame seeds barely grilled. She declared that the salad was “average,” and said that she wished she had opted for my starter.
My Braisé de lapin aux pleurottes was a serving of leg of rabbit in dark gravy, accompanied by puréed potatoes, French fries, and pleurote mushrooms. The rabbit was moist and chewy; however, as I had ordered a similar dish the week before at Le Grand 8 restaurant (see my review of May 2), I felt compelled to compare the two. I thought that the rabbit at Le Grand 8 had a sweeter flavor and was more tender than the one here.
My partner requested that her Magret d’oie rôti entier, sauce aux figues be cooked “rosé” (medium-rare). The goose breast that she was served, however, was more rare than she anticipated. Nonetheless, she seemed pleased with the dish, as the generous portion of meat was topped with a light, sweet sauce containing morsels of fig. She received two of the same side dishes that I did, namely mashed potatoes and French fries, as well as batons of steamed zucchini.
To accompany our meal, we ordered 50 cl of Cairanne Domaine Berthet-Rayne 2009 from the Rhone Valley, a medium-dry, red wine with notes of blueberry.
Fresh, thick-sliced baguette was served alongside in a basket.
My dessert was Pommes fondantes au caramel et sablé au beurre, a serving of tender, sweet baked apple slices with caramel sauce. The shortbread (sablé au beurre) that was served with the apples was surprisingly salty. Not quite the right accompaniment for sweet apples in my opinion!
My partner was happy with her Crème brulée, vanille Bourbon et cassonade. She declared it a perfect classic with its caramelized, sugar-topped crust and soft, vanilla-flavored cream beneath.
The service was friendly and helpful. While we dined the waitress, spotting our camera on the table, offered to take a picture of us.
The bill for two, including two fixed-price menus with one 5 € supplement, two glasses of champagne, and 50 cl of wine, came to 81 €.
By the time we finished our meal and settled the bill, the restaurant was almost full with customers. As we walked through the neighborhood on our way to the metro, we passed by a number of cafés and restaurants whose sidewalk terraces were brimming with people engaged in animated conversation. This is a lively area to come to for an evening of informal dining.
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.