Metro Station: Ecole Militaire (Line 8)
Type of cuisine: French
Days & hours of operation: Mon 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Tues to Friday noon – 2:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Sat 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, MasterCard
The plain, yellow façade of Le P’tit Trouquet belies the charm of its dining room that lies within. Enter into a time warp, where old-fashioned ceiling lamps are dressed with beaded fringes; where lace curtains grace the windows; dining tables are made of marble; a beautiful (non-functional) copper espresso machine sits on the pewter counter of a bar faced in ceramic; mustard pots, hand-cranked coffee grinders, and plates adorn knick-knack shelves; and a handsome red-and-white, checkerboard-tile floor gives a solid foundation to it all.
We began the evening with a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte champagne. At 7€/glass, it seemed like a good price. While we found it refreshing, we did not think that it had the complexity that one seeks in good champagne. We defined it negatively: it was not crisp, but not sweet either. It was cloudy, not brilliantly clear. My partner has tasted this champagne before, but never recalls having the sensation of unidimensionality that she experienced with it this time.
While we sipped the champagne, the waitress placed an amuse bouche on our table. Called Rillettes de deux saumons, it was a pâté of salmon served in ceramic spoons with slender fingers of puff pastry. A nice start!
For the starter, I ordered Aumônière de saumon fumé garnie aux crevettes. I learned later that an aumônière is a drawstring purse that is tied to the waist, and that most aumônières de saumon are salmon prepared in a purse-shaped brick pastry. This particular dish was a mound of prawns draped with strips of smoked salmon. It was dome-shaped, not purse-shaped, but that did not matter because both the prawns and salmon tasted fresh and had a moist and tender texture.
My partner selected ordered two starters instead of a starter and a main course. The first was a Tatin d’endives aux pommes et sa quenelle de chèvre frais aux herbes. This was prepared in a way similar to my starter: a mound of tender apple chunks was draped with wilted endive and topped with a half-sphere of cherry tomato. Alongside were a small salad of mixed greens and a ceramic spoon containing creamy, fresh goat cheese with flavored with herbs. She liked the contrast in flavors – the sharpness of the cheese and herbs against the sweetness of the apple – and found it to be both satisfying and not overly filling.
I do not believe that I have ever seen deboned thigh of rabbit on a restaurant menu before. It was called Désossé de cuisse de lapin à la moutarde violette, and I selected it for the main course. Served in a shallow bowl with a small mound of whipped potatoes and stewed vegetables, the deboned rabbit rested in a pond of gravy. The flesh was ultra-tender; the whipped potatoes were not overly creamy as some restaurants like to serve them; and the stewed red and green bell peppers and zucchini were savory. It was a satisfying dish!
My partner’s second starter was Crème de potimarron, croquants de ravioles du Dauphiné. Several crunchy, cheese-filled ravioli floated in the creamy pumpkin soup, which was dressed with a single sprig of coriander. The soup needed just a touch of salt, which she added from the container on the table. It tasted so good that she did not hesitate to use the wonderfully fresh bread served with our meal to collect the last drops of soup from her bowl.
For the wine accompaniment, we selected a pot (46cl) of Bordeaux – Graves – Château Le Bonnat 2008. It was spicy and peppery, not fruity, and did not go too well with the rabbit. A lighter wine might have done the trick, perhaps a Beaujolais.
Thick-cut, chewy, fresh, sour-dough country bread was served alongside in a basket.
For dessert, I opted for Crème brûlée à la vanille. What a delight it was to plunge my spoon through the brittle, freshly-caramelized, burnt-sugar crust and to withdraw it laden with luscious vanilla custard! Enough said.
My partner requested Financier aux pommes, sauce caramel au beurre salé. The thick, almond-flavored, cake-like pastry sat atop a generous drizzle of caramel sauce and a small pool of crème anglaise. Firm, cooked apples covered the cake. A sprig of mint dusted with powdered sugar and a kumquat served as garnish. The cake was tender and moist and the apples perfectly cooked. The caramel sauce was a welcome accompaniment. The addition of crème anglaise was not necessary to make this a delectable dessert.
During the meal, we were served by two waitresses. While both were friendly, one, who appeared to be the responsible de salle, expressed keen interest in our satisfaction with the meal.
The bill for two, including two glasses of champagne, two starters, two main courses, two desserts, a 46cl pot of wine, and an espresso, came to 102.00€.
Le P’tit Troquet is a great place to dine for travelers seeking delicious, traditional French food served in an old-fashioned bistro.
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.