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Feb 08 Lena Agassin Georgeon Bigarrade Marguery

John Talbott

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Feb 08 – Lena, Agassin, Georgeon, Bigarrade, Marguery, Racines, Fougeres, Casier, Bulle, Canaille, Breteuil, Quedubon, Champerret, Marguerite, Arabian, OJ

It was only one time, but it was pretty impressive.

8.2 Chez Lena et Mimile, 32, rue Tournefort in the 5th,, closed Saturday lunch, Sundays and Mondays, was one of those places that entered Paris under my radar screen, but has gradually built up a reputation for good, solid, but traditional food, deeply influenced by Herve This, the God of Molecular Cooking. A minute on that point - This, author of several books and advisor and some say Svengali, to chefs and restaurants such as Pierre Gagnaire, Inaki Aizpitarte + Les Magnolias, has had an enormous influence on cooking world-wide. I'm impressed differently by the way the above three places/persons have shaped This' thesis; for me Gagnaire has overwhelmed us with dishes and calories, Aizpitarte startled us by rubbing our noses in raw carrots and beets, and Jean Chavel has been the most reasonable yet magical interepter of This' principles - until I ate today at Chez Lena et Mimile. On the one hand, it's in a magnificent location, sitting almost two stories over a sculpture garden/fountain at the end of the street but on the other hand, upon entering, it's as unprepossessing as any place in the 5th. The menu is quite broad and despite the restos reputation as a shrine to This and Thiebault, it's quite normal. I did want to test the molecular bent so I ordered strictly from the This items. First, I had a soup of mushrooms with two slivers of toast atop which were threads of congealed egg yolks - the soup may have been the best I've ever had. Then I had four large scallops with a fluffy sauce of grey shrimp, again I cannot recall a better scallop dish. Oh and besides it was a dish of steamed February veggies with a wondefully spicy taste. Finally, while I didn't really have room for it, in the service of you, dear reader, I sacrificed my body on a "sandwich" (my word not theirs) of sable with chocolate chantilly inside. They did have one other This item, beef cheeks with a fluffy sauce of Syrah polyphenes and at night feature a 55 E all-This meal. The bread was (I'm sure) Poilane, the coffee quite passible and the wine reasonably priced. The bill, hold your seats = 47 E.

Go? Yes indeed.


8.0 l’Agassin, 8, rue Malar in the 7th,, closed Sundays and Mondays. When one of your oldest, trusted food friends says “Skip it,” Rubin gives it one heart, and your drift-by look-see last summer doesn’t impress, but Simon sort of boosts it, you put it down on your list but within reach. This is a hard winter, so I’m indeed now a bit down on the list et voila, it’s Saturday, has a menu, actually three menus (at 23, 34 and 34 €), so go. Walk, you know the street, excepting Paul-Bert, rue Malar is bistro central. Enter, whoa, much fancier than it looked when I drifted by last summer. Sit, peruse the frigging 3 menus trying to figure out how to order, especially since every other dish has a supplement (from 2 for scallops, to 10 for foie gras to 15 € for bloody duck two ways [well, that’s my translation]). Beginning to think I’m over my head; no hot first, well two, rest all terrines, etc. Settle on scallops Breton which guy explains I may not want since it’s in a salad with fennel; me “well, the foie gras {unspoken, at 10 €?) is it whole, hot,” no! Deal breaker. The scallops. Now, maybe they knew who I was, maybe they’re really nice, maybe they gave everyone the same thing as an amuse bouche, maybe they had to get rid of the stuff – I dunno. But I had the most divine slice of foie gras in a soup of January veggies with lemon-grass chips, oh, oh. Then I had the scallops (6) surrounding a nice mache salad with thin slices of fennel and a pressed passion fruit and lemon bits sauce – did I say divine before? Again, then. After a decade of avoiding ordering boar stew because of my horrendous experiences with it in Corsica – dry, shi**y wine and inedible vegetables, I took the plunge – adorable, especially the onions like Colette used to make for holidays and the celery puree that was almost sweet. Finally the pain perdu with coffee ice cream; the pain perdu was unlike any I’ve ever had, more like a spice cake with a lovely ice. The wine starts at 19 € for decent stuff and comes by the bottle, ½, magnum, glass, ½ and 1 liter. My bill was 58 € but any frugal individual could get out for 40 € ordering without the supplements. I don’t always thank the chef, but today I gave a big hug (no, not really) to André Le Letty, exl'Anacréon, he’s great!

Go again? As soon as Colette reappears!

Kinda, sorta, maybe likea Astier, Biche au Bois, Entres Les Vignes

6.0 Le Georgeon, 42, ave Victor Hugo in Boulogne-Billancourt,, closed Saturdays and Sundays is a place that sort of crept under most radar screens until Francois Simon raved about it October 31st, calling is real, basic food devoid of emulsions, nitrogen, phony terrines and simulated fries, nasty vegetables, limp bread, rough wine and Baroque prices. That was enough for me. On a perfectly marvellous day (sunny and 61º F. at the top) I trekked out to the Porte de St Cloud and a bit farther to the place. I was certainly glad I reserved, because it was semi-packed on entering and within 15 minutes turning people (they knew) away. The restaurant and ardoise looked like a million others in town - red and beige decor, the usual terrines and sausages, one each of steak, fish, pork, etc and traditional desserts. I braced myself for a disappointment. The wine list though perked me up, and I ordered a most interesting unfiltered light red that I'd never seen before and tasted the terrific bread; OK hold back reservations - give them a chance. My first was herring with potatoes - boring eh? - not at all. I knew potatoes and carrots could be Thiebault-level but onions? Very very good product all. And then the deossified sausage-like pig's foot with mashies, outstanding, especially with the sharp mustard provided. I was on such a tear that I ordered the creme brulee which was also better than average. The clientele, all local except one couple discussing Mauresmo and the Open now going on two blocks away; some workers, some hip guys, many fine folk my age and some wealthy, married, SUV-type women plus the political interviewer for the 4 Truths on Telematin. My bill = 48.20 E with coffee.

Go? You won't, but you should if you're staying anywhere nearby and have a hint of love of bourgeois/bohemianism food in you.

A pig in a poke just two weeks ago.

6.0 Bigarrade, 106 rue Nollet in the 17th,, closed Saturday lunch and Sundays. Colette and I had heard about this place from a respected local chef a couple of weeks ago, drifted by and got their hours and since it had not yet been reviewed we thought it was truly a pig in a poke. How wrong! Everyone has been and loves it. The RFC and I went and by meal’s end all but two tables were full. It’s a bit like Spring which is no surprise since one of their consultants was Daniel Rose; open kitchen, modern look, fixed (no choice) menu at lunch (at dinner for 20 E more one gets to choose from 2 entrees, 2 mains and 2 desserts). The amuse bouche was a foccacia with raw tart olive oil and the first a divine saffron risotto with licorice and coriander, a dish so layered you could taste each flavor as the bite lasted in your mouth. Then we had filets of rouget with a cauliflower and capers that again stood out, sliced almonds atop and teeny/tiny orange bits in orange juice aside. I think there were 4 (Gagnairian) desserts: fruit with green tea froth, a rare citrus with cocoa, chocolate mousse with rum and another lost to memory’s vagaries. Nice bread, wine and coffee. The only thing I didn’t like was the pendulous lights; too gimmicky - but the ancient French music (rather than American jazz) and real towels in the bathroom, made up for that. Our bill was 121 € for two.

Go? Indeed, especially in the evening when we can further “test” the kitchen.

Back to the future plus.

5.8 Le Petit Marguery, 9, Blvd de Port Royal in the 13th,, closed Sundays and Mondays with lunch menus at 23 (2 courses), 26 (3) and dinner for 30 (2) and 35 (3) € is a blast from the past: same place, same red furniture, same waiters (one of whom recognized me from long ago), some of the same aged customers and mostly the same menu but well-updated and broadly-interesting. There were three of us and first we had an amuse gueule of an intense chicken-based vegetable consume that one of us noted was just like her grandmothers. She then went on to have a slice of first rate foie gras while the two of us had superb raviolis of baby scallops (petoncles) in a spicy sauce that told of legions of shells sacrificed in our honor. Then we had three different mains: Madame insisted her rumpsteak was the best, being tender and delicious, M. thought his coq au vin (with the darkest sauce imaginable) was very good, while I simply adored my pink duck thigh in a white sauce with veggies = so all of us won and trophies went to all. Again three desserts; a non-traditional (in that it was not cut from a round cake but flat one) savarin with rum and raisins; a classic Grand Marnier soufflé (much too much to finish); and what they called a gratin of pears with sabayon – all great. That with three coffees and a bottle of fine wine = 118.50, per person? no, for all three of us. Le Petit Marguery is back, without the brothers Cousin but under excellent guidance nonetheless, (if I’m not mistaken, the folks running Chez Francoise in the Invalides Air France station). It’s great to see such a comeback.

Go? You can’t hold me back.

A genuinely nice place.

5.7 Les Racines, 8, passage des Panoramas in the 2nd,, closed Saturdays and Sundays, is a terrifically pleasant and good place. I went with two of my favorite Paris food people, both of whom had been before - together. It's run by the guy who previously ran La Cremerie which I liked; this place is 3 times bigger we figured out. But he has terrific wines and many more items on the ardoise. We each had one of the three entrees; thus were were able to all sample the terrines of beef and pork and assortment of cuts of ham (lomo, etc.) each very good product with a nice salad. Then the ladies had the scallops wrapped in bacon with teeny/tiny potatoes and I the cheeks of a bovine from Hugo Desnoyer in a very light wine sauce that was almost like a pot au feu and very light mashed potatoes. They then both ended with the 24-month Conte that they generously shared. With a terrific bottle of wine (a "pure chenin pétillant from the Loire, by Jean-Pierre Robinot," per one of us) the bill was 52 Euros apiece.

Go? Oh, yes, before the New York Times finds it.

Very, very good, but no sparks

5.5 Fougeres, 10, rue Villebois in the 17th,, closed Saturday and Sunday. I’m certainly not so sure of my palate or experiences that I think my word after one meal is definitive, so when a close friend had two meals here recently despite my roller-coaster experience December 2006, I decided to revisit. They once again served me this delicious rillettes and bread and then I had a shrimp soup with Thai spices and lemon grass that was very, very good. For my main I had four slices of chevreuil that were perfectly under-cooked with a puree of sweet potato, again very, very good. Finally I had the gourmand coffee, essentially three types of chocolate dessert and a coffee, that were, you’ve got it, very, very good. Any hitch here? Yes, the wine prices; the cheapest red was 35 €, which puts Pudlo’s best price-quality award in some doubt.

Go again? I’m not sure; But if everything was “very, very good”, why not? Answer: Aside from the overpriced wine, there was no “Wow moment.”

Wild seafood

5.5 Le Petit Casier, 49, rue Olivier de Serres in the 15th,, closed Sundays, has been on my list since November when Philippe Toinard gave it 4/5 blocks, but somehow I never got there. Today, however, I went with two friends, one Romanian and one French. The chalkboard has about 4 starters, 4 mains and four desserts and as one might expect in a classy seafood place, the prices were pricey. The amuse bouche was an intense soup of crustaceans, cream and curry; the balance between the curry and dead critters just right. Then two of us had the ceveche of oysters and fish which was tasty and unctuous at the same time, with a fine lemony/oyster sauce while the odd guy out had 6 Gillardeau oysters which I had decided not to have since I had spotted boxes of #1’s outside the brasserie two blocks away for 10 Euros for dinner. Then, the odd guy out again ordered solette (which I always dread in this country) which was about as good as it gets while the front room guy suggested we have the ormeaux, which he explained were rare crustaceans from Brittany and which two of us did. They were funny little things, the size of small clams, with a tender liquidy base and a tough top almost like a bulot top. It was only when I got home that I found a description by none-other than my old friend Johnnie Apple in the NYT from 2005 that said they were local abalone. However they came with a timbale of very good indeed superb mushrooms crowned with a pile of shrimp that were totally blah. For dessert, again two of us had the “intense” pot of hot chocolate with panattone and the third had wonderful canelés with a crème anglaise. The bill – I dunno – my host grabbed it not allowing me to see it, but he peeled off several 50’s and 20’s so I figure it was not cheap. A downside – Yes, they turned off the heater overhead at 2:30 and the last part of our meal was strangely less warm.

Go? Why not? Me though, probably not due to the price-quality ratio.

An honest, safe harbor, sez Toinard and I agree.

5.0 La Bulle, 48, rue Louis Blanc in the 10th,, closed Saturday lunch, Sunday and Monday night is in a neighborhood back of both the Gare du Nord and de l’Est, which, despite all my flanneuring, I don’t think I’ve ever entered. It’s an interesting area – having lots of ethnic places, including a Sri Lankan takeout. It looks modern and much like a lot of other new places but is different; I’ll explain why later. Everything is on the ardoise, 4 specials (eggs with foie gras, magret with green pepper and spinach, which they ran out of by the end of lunch – a good sign and a vanilla tart). I started with calamars, which were tough – my thought was that at Gagnaire some stagiere would have beaten the fiber out of them, but then Gagnaire probably wouldn’t serve them. On the other hand, someone did beat the stuffing out of the magret and it was succulent and the green pepper sauce a fine touch. The spinach had an unusual taste almost like collard greens. For dessert I had another unusual tasting sauce on my baba, confit of some kind of Asian orange. The clientele was between 2 and 72 with an equal representation of young students, young families, working folk and retirees. The noise was exactly like that on the Fooding website – wonderful.

Should one go? I’d wait a bit, he’s still finding himself, but he’s on the right track, it’s got interesting touches (great bread from l’Atelier du Pain and coffee) and while ambitious doesn’t overreach. Boy, ANP, Figaroscope + Adrian Moore sure pinned this one.

A place that has kept under the radar.

5.0 Bistro Canaille, 8, rue Lamartine in the 9th,, closed Saturday lunch, Sundays and Mondays. I stumbled upon this very nice looking place in a somewhat restaurant-free area downhill from Spring which was where I was walking from one day. While the Routard may have “found it” a while back, only Pudlo, among the big boys, last year, rated it. My downstair’s neighbor and I tried it recently and found it quite nice but with tight seating. My companion had a terrine of rabbit and pistachios with very tasty bread and my toasts with pied de cochon were also delicious. Then she had a veal paupiette wrapped with bacon which was quite nice, while I had the pig cheeks with a superb puree with grains of mustard of Meaux. 2 courses are 22 and 3 are 28, but by then we were full we had coffee and paid our reasonable bill of 69 €.

Go? Sure, not as a “destination” but perfect bistro de quartier

An incredible bargain, but…..

3.0 Le Bistro de Breteuil, 3, place de Breteuil in the 7th,, never closed, is the second of seven Bistro & Cie bistros and offers a terrific bargain – a 36 € lunch comprised of a kir royal, three courses from a giant menu, a half-bottle of wine (from a list of about ten) and coffee. Not bad eh? So why was I there? Two reasons: first, about twenty years ago, to thank a longtime French friend who had signed my paperwork for my second try at purchasing property in France, Colette and I took her here, goodness knows why, and nostalgia pulls when it came to going out with her again; and second, I read something, somewhere about some change there, went by this summer, and thought it still looked nice. And it was. It’s on the stunning Place de Breteuil, which no matter from what direction you’re coming, is wonderful. One enters, and as with le Petit Marguery, the location, décor, furnishings and clientele are the same now as twenty years ago, which means we lowered the average ago by about fifteen years. Before ordering, they give you the kirs and a generous pile of herbed olives. We started with an artichoke bottom with crab and raviolis of sweetbreads and mushrooms, both of which were bland beyond belief (I suppose no salt dishes for the demographic of the clientele is a wise move), but revived suddenly and successfully with a tad salt. Then she had passable veal nuggets with noodles and I a horridly overcooked and dry pheasant with great leeks. Then she had a gigantic millefeuille of semi-salted butter caramel and I two crepes Suzettes (said to be flambéed at the table which they sort of were, but not in the grand manner); she finished hers; I did not. With Lavazza coffees serrés and a bottle to G. Duboeuf Cotes de Rhone = 72 €, as advertised.

Go again? No, but I’ll send my back-packing nephews and nieces.

You were right Felice, I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again, come back, all is forgiven.

2.0 Que du Bon aka Quedubon, 22, rue du Plateau in the 19th,, open 7/7 {which is why I went on a Sunday noon}. It’s to hell and gone, that is, where Eric Frechon used to ply his trade, near the Buttes Chaumont Metro stop. They take no credit cards, Felice told me it was only OK for a local bio-natural wine place and the reviews were spotty, so why did I go? I could fall back on the Sir George Mallory answer, “Because it was there,” but I won’t, it was Sunday lunch, my friend Atar correctly said that in Paris, Sunday is the old Saturday – eg nothing’s open, so I didn’t have a lotta choices. But Quedubon was. So. Enter. Nice reception, nice place, incredible list of very cheap wines (catch, it’s add-on 8 € per to open), but that’s OK, they’re still listed from 11- 58 €. Ardoise bigger than most wine bars. I ordered a “small” (read huge) platter of charcuterie and a souris (huge) of lamb. The charcuterie was wonderful and will feed me for at least one more meal; the butter was not Bordier but Echine, but why the sh***y bread and faux-Laguiole knife? But the lamb was not spring lamb but aged mutton, the mouse was rat-sized and cold at the end but there was a kick in the bean and sauce I thought might be piment but the chef insisted was just black pepper. I had no coffee or dessert, the bill was a reasonable 40 € and I have really no complaints. However,

Go back? Nope, I’d rather do the next Sunday lunch at a known oldie.

Was it a rip-off or….if I lived nearby would I….?

1.5 Le Petit Champerret, 30, rue Vernier in the glorious 17th,, closed Saturday lunch and Sundays, lunch formula 21.30 (2 courses) and lunch and dinner menu at 29.30 € (3 courses) is a place that opened in 1922 and looks it. It’s had new ownership since September 2005 and its adverts on the wall are antique indeed (including one for an Absinthe Parisienne that had a woman sitting on a stool marked Santé,) like those in New York restos in the 1950’s, as is the food, altho’ cooked up by a relative youngster. It has a very traditional menu in the American sense, but having seen yesterday’s chalkboard outside, I realized that 30% was new or at least different. In any case I ordered the sautéed pleurottes and gizzards with a frisee salad – not bad except that the dressing was not classic. Then I had a huuuuge Morteau sausage that I could only finish ½ of and many too many lentils aside. Finally I had the warm chocolate cake with a creme anglaise and a miserable excuse for coffee. While one could easily get out, and should for 21,30 + 5 for wine = 26,30 my ordering off the formula drove it way up.

Go? If you’re nearby, sure!

It would have been so nice.

1.0 Marguerite, 50, rue de Clignancourt in the 18th,, closed Saturday lunch and Sundays, opened in my neighborhood late last year and immediately got 3 blocks from Philippe Toinard; but it took Emmanuel Rubin until recently to go and give it one heart; so who is correct? It was a cold, rainy day, but the welcome was OK, a bit stiff after a very warm greeting on the phone (M. Talbot John, n’est pas, nice to meet you). They’ve kept the walls bare, one of brick the other of stone – a fine touch – and the music system was playing the Mozart on Radio Classique that I’d just been listening to at home. The place was packed with 25-35 year old men, dressed informally, all of whom knew some of but not all of the others – I felt I was in the Google cantine. They have an incredibly priced (15 E) for 2 among the scrambled eggs with ham, bar and floating island – which most of the techies had. I chose a dish for a first (the quenelles of sandre) that Rubin had said was tasteless, and he was correct – so why did I order it? Two reasons, I wanted to see if they’d respond to his criticism, and if my taste matched his. Then I had the beef cheeks hunter-style, which were equally tasteless, worse the sauce was not reduced a bit; PS the veggies though were nice. Then I had the baba supposedly with calvados but the only bottle it had seen was one of insipid sugar water; plus the baba was ½ warm, ½ cold. Plus the wait for it was G. Arabian league. Bill = 41 with wine but no coffee and a 4 E overcharge for the wine (refunded in cash).

Go? No, it’s not yet ready for prime time.

So how many strikes is it that you Americans give in that silly game of yours before someone is “out”?

-1.0 Les Petites Sorcieres de Ghislane Arabian, 12, rue Liancourt in the 14th,, closed Sundays and Mondays. Ok, let’s stipulate (as the legal beagles say), that Ghislaine Arabian’s dishonor and punishment for legal irregularities is offset by her glory days in Lille and at Ledoyen and rehabilitation in Japan and running a little-known catering service outside Paris while in purdah/purgatory cancel each other out. And let’s say that while there’s been much hoopla about her return to Paris, I was warned by our loyal eGullet member Atar, that he had a miserable/slowly served meal there last week. So we start with a clean slate. My guest, Paris’s most prolific cook-book writer, and I had to see for ourselves – silly us. Back to bezbol: strikes:

1. It’s a nice enough looking restaurant with a fancy awning but the tables are jammed together Regalade/l’Ami Jean style.

2. The menu is really cheap (20 for 2 and 25 € for 3 courses) but the choices are really not terribly appealing – I mean, come’on, lentils with haddock and a terrine of white meat (potjevlesch) for firsts, steak and frites and veal chops for mains?

3. The wine list while not too pricey was rather limited.

4. Our firsts were lacking for very different reasons – the cream of cauliflower soup had so much cream and butter in it that after 3 spoonfuls, one was full and the palourdes were simply not enhanced by their sauce and were way short of blah.

5. We noted that Mme. Arabian only entered the kitchen to give orders, not to cook - that’s OK if you’re Alain Passard, but with this kitchen, one should be there more.

6. It took a good 45 minutes and perhaps closer to an hour to be served the plats – now in the meantime, Mme A. devoted full-time to the food critic on whom Antoine Ego’s caricature in Ratatouille was based, even sitting at his table for quite a while – while 20 of us sat waiting for food with empty places.

7. The plats arrived after my French-born and raised guest complained very nicely – we should have gone without – my skate was over-cooked and essentially tasteless except for six burned capers; her hachi/parmentier was, you’ve got it – tasteless.

8. After another endless wait, we had coffee, settled the bill (69 €) and fled.

Go? Please, don’t say Atar and I didn’t warn you.

Why Did I Go? Everything will be illuminated.

-1.0 O.J. Restaurant, 4, rue Aime Lavy in the 18th,, closed Sundays and Mondays is but a short walk from my place so despite the experience, but with the encouragement of my downstairs pal, I went on one of my rare forays into the night (I much prefer to have a Ricard, watch the Guignols and PPDA and eat something light.) Backstory (as they say): A month ago, on my runnies/walkies, which are increasingly becoming limpies, I looked at the menu in the window that used to belong to Wally the Saharian and within 24-hours I received an email from the real food critic (RFC) who said we should maybe go to this new place, OJ, not named in honor of the American, ahhhh footballer, but a chef, Olivier Jegousse - a clone (enieme) of Ghislaine A. To me the menu (carte) looked like that of a thousand others - ho hum. Luckily, I convinced him to go to La Bigarrade, where we ate very well indeed. Back to the front story. I have a tradition, when I leave my home country, to clean the stove, kitchen floor and surroundings, and since I'm going tomorrow to the USofA to vote in the primary, I did that and made a reservation here. It's like nothing changed - Islamic windows, Magrebian chairs and Arabic ironwork. But the menu has - for the better? - on verra. I ordered the foie gras cooked with spices - that tasted very weird, not bad, but very weird. Oh yah, before that, in a pretentious gesture, I was served three amuse-gueules, a toast with tapenade, a piece of ham/cheesed brioche and a thing like foccacia with interesting tasting greens with an interesting tasting dressing. Then (big mistake - mine totally) I ordered the mixed fish special, an OK but undistinguished scallop, a piece of over-the-hill rouget and something that might have been bar or daurade (does that tell you something?) Do I have anything nice to say, John? Yes, the wine, which Philippe Toinard also liked, a Chateau de Jau was fine, principally serving as an anesthetic. OJ's desserts may be his specialty but I fled before an opportunity to be further abused. Damages 47.50 E, a bill which they totally messed up in both directions (oh yes, no cutlery came with my main, I had to import it from the next table.)

Go? About to expire of hunger in front of it - go to the Nord-Sud.

Scale (subject to fickleness and change):

10 – The best you’ve ever eaten in, eg Giradet in the old days.

9 – The places you went/go to because they’re destinations, eg Pere Bise

8 – The places that did their best in their prime Robuchon, Ducasse, Loiseau

7 – The places today beating the competition Ze Kitchen Galerie, Spring, Constant x3

6 - The old reliables Repaire de Cartouche, Bistro du Dome, Clocher Periere

5 – Fun neighborhood places Le Winch, l’Oxilis, Café qui Parle

4 – Places to go on cook’s night out Terminus Nord

3 – Places if you’re really stuck 2 Pieces Cuisine, Le Truc

2 – A pick-up meal Sale + Pepe

1 – Really hitting bottom le Nord-Sud

0 – Never again Auguste, The Place, Helene Darroze

Ø- No kidding, you can’t drag me Iode

Edited by John Talbott (log)

John Talbott

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Holy Moly John...what a catharsis of culinary criticism you inflicted upon yourself...17 thorough reviews in one fell swoop! I went from starving for your unique critiques to a feast, all in the span of one post. You don't receive nearly enough credit for the fine job you do...a big thanks from me.

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  • 1 month later...

Today four of us ate again here and the others were not as impressed as I was my first visit. Two started with the mushroom soup and I had a crème brulee of ham (really a quiche); then one had scallops, one a huge piece of bar, one the beef I had last time, and I had the tete de veau special with "English potatoes," the latter of which I thought were incredible. We ended up sharing an ice cream with a mélange of ingredients. My invitees thought the meal was:

- disappointing,

- OK,

- so-so;

I still would go back. The bill = 63.25 E a couple.

Edited to add that this was at Lena & Mimile.

Edited by John Talbott (log)

John Talbott

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Today four of us ate again here and the others were not as impressed as I was my first visit.  Two started with the mushroom soup and I had a crème brulee of ham (really a quiche); then one had scallops, one a huge piece of bar, one the beef I had last time, and I had the tete de veau special with "English potatoes," the latter of which I thought were incredible.  We ended up sharing an ice cream with a mélange of ingredients.  My invitees thought the meal was:

-  disappointing,

- OK,

- so-so;

I still would go back.  The bill = 63.25 E a couple.


I am a bit confused as to which restaurant you paid a return visit; would you mind specifying for the more dense among your readers?

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  • 2 weeks later...

L'Agassin - a revisit and revision.

After eating here almost two months ago, coordinates in the original review, I returned today with Colette and a friend. We all three had the 34 Euro menu-carte with many of today's specials. They started us off with cups of warm cucumber soup with chunks of cod and diced chives - quite good. Then we diverged - I having the warm rascasse with a great crisp salad; Colette had a dish of scallops with creamy white beans that was good; and our friend had dried duck with salad. Then I had beef cheeks with a dark brown pepper sauce and a ton of carrots; Colette the mullet with veggies that had a terrific lemony zing to them; and our guest had the salmon with spelt spaghetti, which she thought was quite special. Finally, I had the same pain perdu with ice cream I had last time; Colette had a soup of clementines and citrusy sorbet and our friend the rice pudding. The bill with wine, coffee but no bottled water was 148 Euros for three. I rated it higher than the two ladies - the consensus vote being about 6.0.

John Talbott

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Fascinated by the idea of This' influence at bistro level, we visited Lena and Mimile Monday evening. As there was a large American celebratory party in the main dining room, we and other non-related parties were seated in the small bar dining area. I poured over the menu to find the This page, but it wasn't there. It appears that this menu is offered only on certain days (Tuesday through Thursdays) and possibly only seasonally (October through February). Without getting into detail, our choices from the regular menu were adequately prepared but wouldn't cause us to return. Servings were quite large, too large for us: probably 200 gr slab of marinated salmon as starter, huge 1/2" thick grilled cut of leg meat for the gigot d'agneau.

I also want to comment on Racines. It is exactly as has been described. Every time we have passed by, the slate has listed several great sounding dishes. But it is a crap-shoot. On the night we visited, the choices were andouillette, veal chop and pasta with chicken. For starter, I ordered boudin with apples which was served in a large round atop greens. Excellent. The pasta was probably the right order, but I chose the andouillette and my husband the veal chop. Both came completely unadorned. Naked on the plate. I asked for mustard but they didn't have any. I have probably consumed my weight in andouillette, but this was the first one that was completely on its own. I cleared my palate with a huge slab of chocolate cake. I wished that I lived closeby so I could call to find what they are cooking that night and ask for a table. I wish that tables were usually avaliable on that basis. It's a sweet room, and service was darling. The next time we passed, osso buco was on the menu.

eGullet member #80.

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  • 6 months later...

Au Petit Marguery is a place we four in my batiment used to frequent twenty some years ago, and then it fell off the radar screen for reasons unclear to me, and resurfaced in January 2008 when the Cousin brothers retired and new management did pretty well at keeping it rolling. Colette hankered after their floating island, alas no longer on the menu, but we went without knowing that, nor that they had so much game available so early in fall – grouse, lievre, biche, colvert and something else. I started with the really gamy grouse mousse, three portions of which were like peanut butter for adults, on nice briochy toast - addicting. Colette had the biche and I, the lieve a la royale Sénateur Couteaux a la Poiterine – both with sauces so dark our friend Atar would have been envious but Colette’s was appropriately spicier than mine. She had a portion of jerusalem artichoke and parsnips and I had nice noodles to soak up the sauce. Then Colette finished it off with a soufflé of Grand Marnier, an old fave, as well. The nummies with the coffee were fine by me but not Colette and the bread roll was not up to the big ones they served in days gone by. The bill, including a bottle of Haut-Medoc and no bottled water was 114 €, the game having an appropriate 10 € supplement per portion.

John Talbott

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