Archive for the ‘french bistrot’ Category

 La Ferme aux Grives (Addr: 334 Rue René Vielle, 40320 Eugénie-les-Bains, France. Phone: +33 5 58 05 05 06) – A casual / countryside take on Chef  Michel Guerard‘s classic French cooking is available in a pretty farmhouse located next to the Chef’s 3 Michelin star restaurant, which I did also visit . I did hesitate between going back to Pau and eat at one of the rare touristy restaurants that are opened on sunday or to pursue my journey at Eugenie les Bains. The decision was not too hard to take, given the   favorable online reviews on la Ferme aux Grives.

What I ate:

Saucisson sec: The traditional dry-cured sausage (saucisson sec), air dried for a minimum of 6 weeks, came from the nearby commune of Les Aldudes in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Saucisson sec is one of the things that the French rarely fail to do well, and this was no exception. Nice distinctive nutty aroma, beautifully marbled filling, balanced intensity of its spicy taste. Sourcing great dry-cured sausage from artisans is one thing, knowing how to store it is another story. They excelled at both. 9/10

Gougère soufflé: The technique of the savoury choux pastry was on point (good puffy structure, with a nice golden exterior and carefully rendered soft interior). You can serve your gougère cold , hot or lukewarm. Lukewarm (my preferred temperature for this  choux pastry) is what they were looking for, at La Ferme aux Grives , but theirs was not enoughly mildly warm to lift up the gougère flavor. Consequently, the cheesy flavor of the the gougère was not expressive. This was still a well made gougère, with enough enticing gougère flavour brought to the fore. 7/10


Salade de boudin grillé, jardinière de coco, vinaigrette de simples (mangue/fruit de la passion). Blood sausage, white beans, a vinaigrette made of mango and passion fruit. Great technique in the execution of the blood sausage (soft filling, judicious seasoning), a blood sausage that had a taste that is more refined than your usual traditional French blood sausage, cabbage, white beans as well as the vinaigrette were all seasoned adequatly. Perhaps not enoughly ‘bold’ on the palate as I would have preferred when I am ordering grilled blood sausage, but again, as it has been the case all along this meal, the execution and work of flavors could hardly be faulted. 7/10

Spit-roasted suckling pig (over an open fire). As tasty as your suckling pig will taste at most good restaurants in France and North America. A bit like with the lobster, I have hard time finding suckling pig, in France and North America, that can match the dazzling suckling pig I was eating in my tender childhood in the Indian Ocean (I think it happened just once in North America
and twice in France, within the last 20 years). Anyways, this was good: carefully seasoned, quality suckling pig, and you cannot go wrong with meat cooked slowly for so long. 7/10

Gratin de pâtes, fromage parmesan, cèpes- Gratineed pasta, cooked in a parmesan/penny-bun bolete mushroom cream. The pasta cooked a bit longer than aldente. I find it less “fun” to eat pasta cooked too long in a cream because you have less textural contrast,  less ‘counterpoint’ to the cream, but hey…we are in France, not Italy. That said, this featured precisely balanced rich and delicious flavors. 7/10.

Charlotte aux fraises (Strawberry charlotte) – The dessert featured a properly executed chantilly, an equally properly rendered luscious strawberry mousse, a timely cooled sponge cake as well as quality strawberries picked fully ripe. The fruity flavors in evidence, the presentation was rustic but that was intentional as to fit with the theme of the restaurant. A good charlotte. 7/10

Overall food rating: 7/10 Good standard of French bistrot food

  Detours (14 rue Latapie, 64000 Pau, Communauté d’Agglomération Pau-Pyrénées, Phone: +33 5 24 36 53 02) is one of the latest most touted new tables of Pau.

In Pau, I did hesitate between traditional food (Chez Olive, Chez Laurette, Henri IV) or the contemporary casual eateries opened by Chefs who have spent long years alongside the greatest Chefs of France (Chef Nicolas Lormeau of Lou Esberit, Chef Jean-Pascal Moncassin at Detours). Not an easy decision as I am partial to those two different types of restaurants, but I am already familiar and do cook traditional french cuisine (from all regions of France) at home, therefore I decided to see what the well trained artisan Chefs had to offer in their casual eateries. My decision was  influenced by the fact that I do already cook classic French food at home, and not contemporary takes on that type of food, therefore I suggest you try their traditional food if you are in Pau.

Chef Jean-Pascal Moncassin worked, in the past, at Michelin starred Michel Sarran in  Toulouse as well as reknown restaurants such as Le Crillon and le Grand Véfour.

I ordered two A la carte  items from:

Jarret de veau en nems croustillant, quinoa aux petits legumes, herbes fraiches. Nems filled with veal, on a bed of quinoa and vegetables/fresh herbs.
The genuinely Vietnamese nem flavour is faithfully replicated, quinoa cooked properly, the vegetables (carrots, radish) featuring a nice crunch. A finely composed healthy dish (no unecessary bold seasoning, but flavour where it needs to be found, as exemplified by the exquisitely seasoned nem, then the lightly seasoned quinoa and vegetables , which was the right thing to do in this case. 7/10

Agneau, epaule confite 36hrs, caviar d’aubergine, legumes de saison (pommes de terre, zucchini, carrottes, champignons) cuits dans le jus de cuisson. Lamb shoulder confit, cooked for 36 hrs. In a separate pot, potatoes/zucchini/ carrots/ mushroom. Timely cooked vegetables and lamb. Eggplant caviar was perfect, the vegetables cooked in a delicious and flawlessly reduced cooking jus. Another fine dish. 7/10

Overall food rating: 7/10 A Chef who knows when and where flavours need to be expressive or subtle, the food tasty.



License IV (Addr: 1524 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, Phone 514-938-8084, offers classic French cuisine. The restaurant has just opened a few days ago, and it is a foodie friend who notified me about its opening as no serious restaurant-related online source has mentioned it. Given the ever growing French community in Quebec, I am surprised there are not that many restaurants cooking classic French fares. Perhaps the newer generations of the French are not into raclettes and crepes suzettes? Montreal will find that out, soon, as License IV brings such beautiful memories back.

It’s actually because I kept complaining that there are not many places making crepes suzette in the beautiful old fashion way, and not many places doing great tartiflettes in Montreal, that my foodie friend has suggested that I try License IV. “You won’t believe me…there is that new place cooking French food and that has crepe suzette and tartiflette on its menu“… he submitted.

License IV does not joke about its French identity:  It has a brasserie feel  (cute french brasserie looks, btw, with dark wood and green tones), songs like ´enfants de tout pays‘ and ´mon manege a moi” , do proudly play through their quality speakers.  The wait staff is from France. A true feeling of being agreeably transported to l’hexagone, which is to  my liking.

Moules marinières, celeri, beurre, vin blanc, onion, roquette, tomate $13 – it was easy to see that the Chef was properly trained in classic french cuisine as the flavor profile was genuine. There are different recipes for moules marinieres, and theirs was tasty as it’s supposed to be when using flavor-enhancing ingredients such as onion, celeriac, tomatoes and butter, and yet that (the tastynes of moules marinieres) is not always a given as the Chef still needs to have a good palate (which was the case, here).  Well done! 7/10

Escapade d’escargot poeles , sauce tomate, poivron, estragon, oignons, pastis $11 – land snail cooked in tomatoes. Again, genuine classic French flavors. The only limitation I could see …having nothing to do with the kitchen: the same ingredients, in some parts of France, are better. Still, no complaint at all. This is one proper French-based recipe of a dish of cooked snail in the context of a city like Montreal. 7/10

Bouillabaise , homard, saumon, morue, crevettes, moules, fond tomate, pomme de terre vapeur, pastis, croutons, rouille $28 – If you had your share of bouillabaise in the right places in France, you surely have your preferred ones. Many recipes have their own twists. No matter the twist, my preferred bouillabaise had their bold maritime flavor at the forefront. This did not, though make no mistake, the seafood was of good quality and had flavor (their flavors  did not take a break as it was the case of the recent oysters I had at Docks Oyster House). I also would have preferred a bit more of the saffron. The piece of additional lemon confit was not a bad idea. All in all, a bouillabaise that was not bad, but it was a bit less eventful, for my taste, when compared to the best bouillabaises I had.

Wrapped up my meal with the crepe suzette. This is a bistrot, not a restaurant offering French haute cuisine, so no tableside presentation of your crepes suzette, as, say, at Taillevent (Paris) – which, is traditionally my preference. Regardless, I know what to expect from my crepe suzette. Both the crepe and its grand marnier/orange sauce were done properly. 7/10

All in all: 7/10 (Category: French bistrot in Montreal) – Condiments are well done, here. Classic French flavors are properly expressed, ingredients are as great as they can be at a restaurant in Montreal. Lifting up the maritime flavor of that bouillabaise would be, realistically, what they could have improved during this meal. Everything else was fine. I doubt the bread is baked in house (I did not ask them), mais putain qu’il était bon, ce pain baguette!   Service is perfect. This is a good addition to the Montreal restaurant scene. I will go back and see if they have the tartiflette  (it was not available the day of my visit). I hope they beat the best tartiflette I ever had in Quebec (One that Chef Anne  Desjardins had, once, cooked when her restaurant, L’eau à la bouche was still open in Sainte-Adèle).

Le Casse Noix
56 rue de la Fédération – 75015 Paris
French Bistrot (Classic French with a twist)


Le Casse Noix is the bistrot of Chef Pierre Olivier Lenormand who has spent years alongside legendary 3 star Michelin Chef  Christian Constant at l’Hôtel de Crillon (Chef Constant is no more active as a Chef, but now owns several restaurants in Paris such as les  Cocottes de Christian Constant, Café Constant, Le violon d’Ingres ) , then alongside another legend, Chef Alain Solivérès  (who has now 2 stars with restaurant Tailevent).  He also worked at the very popular La Régalade.


My wife’s lamb was full of delicious meat flavor, the cooking, doneness (medium rare) and seasoning spot on. Exciting on the palate, the quality of the lamb surprisingly high given the low prices (3 courses for eur 33)  8/10


Beef, which was my choice, was ordinary. I’d prefer my beef either grilled or braised since the ‘éffiloché’ technique (which would have worked better  with pork) seemed, in this case, to have muted the full beef flavorful character of the meat. The effect, in mouth, was reminiscent of corned beef, an effect that I do not dislike but that I definitely find inferior to what’s expressed by braised/grilled meats 5/10

Desserts were of top range, and we are in France, Imagine!  A long time ago, at any great cooking school  as well as on the great tables of France, this  is this kind of perfected joyous and fresh rich riz au lait and ile flottante that they were looking for.  Only, here they avoided the boring old fashion textures making those greats classics vibrant in texture, eternally divine in taste:


So, Riz au lait, done the classical way,  had amazing beautiful milky texture while tasting divine. Among the finest riz au lait in Paris (I also like the one at Chez L’Ami Jean). 10/10


Ile flottante, also done the traditional way, had fabulous deep rich flavor, the execution flawless.  Ironically, even at some tables widely known by French people for their Ile flottante, few came close to this one.  An excellent Ile Flottante that I’ll remember for a long time. 9/10

Service was a charm (we were served by a young woman and gentleman), with the right amount of warmth and  professionalism. Very efficient (no exaggerated  slowness). If you hear anyone complaining about poor  service in Paris, send them to Le Casse Noix so that they can  enjoy  the other type of service they can also get in Paris

Overall score for the food performance on this lunch (Categ: French bistrot)  7/10 (but the desserts were world class creations that would not be out of place at a serious Classic French 3 star Michelin in France) As with any great bistrot, you’ll eventually stumble upon one or two dishes you might perceive as weaker than others, but in general the level of cooking here is high for a bistrot,  the technique reliable, the work of taste excellent.  They take some classical French dishes and revisit them with pep.

All in all, a great charming bistrot with nice  warm decor, great service, delicious food at reasonable prices (they have an affordable menu at  33 euros for starter/main/dessert) and it is  located near  the Eiffel tower.


Event: Dinner at Cuisine et Dependance
Friday Oct 16th, 2009 5:30PM
Type of restaurant: Mix of Modern and Classic Bistro fare

4902 St.Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC
Phone%20Icon 514-842-1500
Arome’s the food blog: Q&A’s, Guidelines, Ethics, Vision

CUISINE ET DEPENDANCE - OUTSIDE This is one restaurant which sudden growing interest for (see page 9 of the Chatboard) had caught me by total surprise. Well, I know that their chef was a star back to the days of his old restaurant at St Augustin (I even  highly regarded him as one of Quebec’s best chefs based on the amazing job he did overthere), but when I heard he moved to Mtl and was doing bistro, I never manifested any particular interest since I prefer bistro-centric star chefs (M sur Masson’s Filiatreault, Michael Ross from Old Brunoise, Loiseau from Bistro Cocagne, etc) behind a .. bistro kitchen!

But I owe you a lot from your old time loyalty (already 10 years of following me all around!), so I said “Why not?”, specially for a bistro that has barely been reviewed by the next door foodies that most of us are (there are reviews on C&D by newspapers/magazine’s  food journalists, couple of comments here and there on the web, but apart one article that was once published on — I think the article was retrieved since I do not see it anymore / pls correct me if I am wrong here — I haven’t yet read any next door foodie’s fully detailed review about this restaurant). To that regard, it was kind of interesting to break the ice. So, after the luxurious dinner of last Friday at XO, I was searching for a counter-balance: something more bistro-esque, this time! My heart said “Go to Mas Cuisine!!” (it’s about time I give Ross’s Brunoise successor a try…I can’t believe I’ve never been to this one!!), but another part of me whispered “Don’t forget the girls and boys who have been asking you to try C&D for them”. I went for the latest this Friday evening (Mas, I am coming at you soon!! believe me!).

Decor is minimalist (no heavy distracting decorations) and yet of stylish modern bistro type with an omnipresence of warm colors (green, brown, wall bricks painted in white) and darker ones (black, darker floor, dark roof). Very pretty decor, very airy (even when it is busy, you do not get that uncomfy feel of beeing jam packed)

and welcoming glass windows offering a perfect penetration of natural light:

They have both a fixe menu available everyday (basically, some menu items that were so popular that they decided to make available on a daily basis such as some delicatessen, ray wings, their very popular veal cheeks):
AND also a variable menu that changes daily (written on  paperboards):
paperboard menu
The paperboard menus are very accessible and omnipresent, so you wont have to worry about beeing able to read the menu or not (anyway, the waiter re-explains the entire menu at the table).

I started by chosing a wine. As usual, I always go for a wine that I am not familiar with.
I went with the 2007 Corsican Fiumeseccu (Domaine d’Alzipratu)  red wine. This wine really gets better upon decantation. Some wines gets worst after they are decanted, but this was is the total opposite: at first, it sports a strange confusing acidic deep taste barely detectable berries, liquorice and peppery touch (really not that pleasant on the first 5 minutes, well at least not to my tastebuds)…then, it evolved gradually (10,15 minutes after it was decanted) into a  a nice wine suddently characterized by a pleasant light fruity and subtly spiced enjoyable good wine:

Fiumeseccu, Dom d'Alzipratu

I picked a first appetizer of crab, called “Crabe tourteau”:
Crab This starter consisted of crab meat, nicely concocted in a light taragon-flavored delicious cream of mayo, sandwiched between two very tasty buttery slightly-toasted slices of “dodu du fromentier”‘s bread: the crab meat was amazingly fresh (as if it came right from the sea), tender, nicely seasoned, flavorful and very tasty. It was served along fresh mesclun baby leaves that were ideally crunchy on top of complementing perfectly well the crab meat. Refreshing and Delicious!
PS: Do not search far for what “Crabe Tourteau” is. “Crabe Tourteau” is just another naming for the big majority of some common crab species. It’s just “cuter/more inspired/etymologically richer” to put it as “Crab Tourteau” 10/10

I then picked a second  appetizer called “Tartelette de Boudin”:
TARTELETTE DE BOUDIN The blood sausage tart was surrounded by nice fresh green salad (amazingly light and tasty vinaigrette, Yeah..I could do that salad  at home, but hey this was very nice nevertheless), topped by tasty crunchy slices of fresh green apples (apple as a salad could be a wow. That is the case here!), a chunk of rich greasy bacon lardon (I could live without it..but it was irreproachably tasty). The two pieces of blood sausages were nicely concocted, had an awesome inside smoothness and was perfectly flavored. They were sitting on a flat savourish slightly enjoyable sweet biscuit topped by an intense rich and all flavorful onion fondue. I liked the precision both in terms of mouthfeel and cooking of that fondue: It was more of a jam of chopped pieces of onions, cooked to perfection with flawless  well balanced tastes and flavors. It’s when simple things are done so well that you measure the grandeur of a chef, and this is a perfect example of just that -> straightforward onion jam-alike fondue that’s very tasty. Not one flavor was outperforming here! The biscuit was light, had a heavenly enjoyable subtle buttery taste and was litteraly melting mouth crispy!A lot of great work here on this appetizer: various layers of tastes that paired so well between one another. 8/10

Then the braised veal cheeks:
BRAISED VEAL CHEEKS The braised veal cheeks were sitting on top of a nice rich creamy delicious potato purée. The cheeks were undeniably very tender and packed with remarquable flavors. Nicely cooked and delectable mouthfeel on top of being perfectly well seasoned. Not too salty, not too greasy, not lacking at all in terms of flavors. In the plate, there was a nice piece of beet (nicely crunchy,  lightly sweet) with carrots. I am not a big fan of veal cheeks, but since this is one of their signature dishes, I had to try it and this was definitely lovely. 7.5/10

Concluded with a vanilla pot de crème:
VANILLA POT DE CREME The pot de crème was flawless on all accounts: light, rich  and delicious in taste. Topped by a nice little touch of little slices of nuts. 8/10

I also ended with a nice warm brazilian coffee:

I really liked the non formal, relax service provided by my waiter, Yves Larose. This gentleman is what I would qualify as an open minded intellectual with lots of outlooks on practically anything. Interesting person to talk to. And really passionate about what he does: he takes proud detailing each product and reminding how pure and natural they stand (I trust him: the freshness of the ingredients here are undeniable! As fresh as if there was a market and a fishermen’s village right in front of the restaurant!).

Jean-Paul Giroux is one of the few Chefs around the globe that I hold in high esteem. If I had to spend the rest of my life on a desert Island with just 3,5 Chefs to feed me, he would be among those very few. Because he has a great palate (not all Chefs do, believe me!), because he knows how to deliver the most important: delicious food. Because he knows how to deliver them: the simple way possible, but with remarkable palatable impact. Where some do  skip  many essential steps and are busy discovering the next trends of the moment, I remain convinced that great food needs no complex interventions but simplicity expressed with tremendous personal culinaric skills.

Bottom line: this is exactly what I am looking for when I go to a restaurant -> food that is profoundly delicious, executed with inspiration and talent by a Chef entirely dedicated to the ultimate purpose of dining: leaving pleasurable imprints on his customers palates.

-See more  pictures on my picasa’s gallery: