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

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Le Casse Noix
56 rue de la Fédération – 75015 Paris
French Bistrot (Classic French with a twist)
http://www.le-cassenoix.fr/fr/

CASSE NOIX, PARIS

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.

CASSENOIX, PARIS - AGNEAU

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

CASSENOIX, PARIS - BOEUF

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:

CASSENOIX, PARIS - RIZ AU LAIT

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

CASSENOIX, PARIS - ILE FLOTTANTE

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: 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.