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Marianne

5 "formule" lunches in Paris

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When coming to Paris I always look forward to finding one or more new (to me) nice little bistrots, usually on the basis of John's recommendations. This time, however, I had nothing prepared, so I tried only two new places and revisited four old favorites. At all of them I had their lunch formule with wine and a coffee.

Le Gaigne is a small inviting place with an pleasant and well-organized hostess. The formule had two choices each for starter, main and dessert. I chose the smoked salmon, thinly cut with a little scoop of crème fraiche, coriander, little pieces of (smoked?) paprika and one or two other herbs, with a side of mixed salad. nice. My main was a thick cut piece of lieu (pollack), perfectly cooked with a crusty skin in an absolutely wonderful jus and with a large "navet" on the side (I checked the dictionary and apparently a navet is a turnip, but this was different from any turnip I've ever tasted, and it was very, very good). I could not manage a dessert, although the litchy/gingembre combination was tempting and intriguing. I had been to and had liked Le Gaigne before and my high expectations were more than met. Starter, main, glass of wine and a coffee added up to €23

Le Gaigne, 12 rue Pecquay, 4th.

The lunch at La Fidélité was disappointing. It has been written up quite a bit lately but on the basis of my experience this week, I would qualify it as “much ado about little”. The interior is nice but there were hardly any customers. The starter of pumpkin soup with a splash of pesto and toasted sunflower pits had a nice taste, but was served too cold. The thinly breaded Pangasius (an Asian catfish), on a nice bed of haricots verts, was cooked too short and lacked zing. Maybe the cook had an off day and I was just unlucky, but I will not return to find out. Starter, main, glass of wine and coffee added up to €22.

La Fidelite, 12 Rue de la Fidelite, 10th

l'Ardoise Gourmande has a nice atmosphere and customers always seem happy there. The service is friendly and attentive and the food is very good. I chose the starter and main of the day. Starter was 3 thick slices of great tasting melt-on-the-tongue graved lax with a creamy scoop of lemony something. The main of the day was a beautiful, very tender steak in a pepper jus. Perfectly cooked saignant, just as I had asked, with a crispy rind and on the side three scoops of nicely spiced potato puree. Wonderful! My bill for starter, main, a quarter pichet of wine and a coffee was € 22. I really love that place.

l'Ardoise Gourmande, 12 rue de Belzunce, 10th (walking distance from Gare du Nord)

Next day I went to La Gazzetta, which had been on my list for a long, long time. I should have gone before, as this is a terrific place. I loved the interior and the waiters, but especially the food. Wow! The formule starter consisted of three little dishes: 1. a very tasty cup of bean/leek soup, 2. a salad of squid with a large, thin slice of celeriac (cooked “au foin” = hay?) and then folded up and tiny pieces of sugared orange and 3. a little pizza bianca, with a puree of Jerusalem artichoke and terrific tasting slices of tender deer meat, surrounded by little pieces of crunchy purple chicory. This latter dish totally blew me away. For the main there was a choice of 4 or 5 dishes. I chose the grilled bar sauvage (bass) with a wonderful jus corsé, served with spinach and 4 different kinds of carrots, one of which pureed with ricotta. Mmm!. These dishes were beautifully presented and I was sorry I had not brought my camera. The bill for starter, main (€2 supplement), a glass of wine and a coffee amounted to €24.30.

La Gazzetta, 29 rue de Cotte (12th).

At another favorite lunch spot of mine, I had a rather disappointing meal which was not up to their usual standards. The starter of poached egg, lightly drizzled with a nice vinegary liquid, two fried polenta fingers and some salad did not exactly dazzle me. Main was a filet of scorpion fish, which wasn’t special, with on the side celery tempuras -which were too fatty for my taste - and a soy/sesame dip. Too bad, maybe the cook had an off day, maybe I had an off day, maybe Gazzetta spoiled me. However, to me this restaurant has a good track record and I will have lunch there again next month and report on it then.

On my last day I went to Monjul in the Marais. What a place. The waiters make you feel especially welcome and the cook is an artist. He creates dishes that are a feast for the eyes as well as for the taste buds; little works of art. The formule was, again, a poached egg, but this time swimming in a goat cheese soup. With it came a sweetish, soft, little (bread)stick and an herb salad. I am not a great fan of goat's cheese, but I really enjoyed this dish. The main was chunk of salmon, cooked in goose fat, topped with a meli melo of little tomato and zucchini cubes, spiced with a.o. cumin. Next to the salmon was placed a cylinder made of baked cheese paste, filled with a brandade of salt cod and topped with – this is difficult to explain - a thin crust of, I guess salmon skin, in the form of spread out wings. The thing somehow reminded me of the Colonne de Juillet on Place de la Bastille. Also there was a scoop of white raisins combined with something I could not define, as well as the line of pimento sauce. The dish tasted great. It was a pleasure just watching the waiters pass by with all these beautifully made up dishes. This last lunch was, again, a big hit. Starter, main, glass of wine and coffee for €21.

Monjul, 28 Rue des Blancs Manteaux, 4th

It's been a good week!

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Thanks for this Marianne. I am glad to hear that you really liked Gazetta because I did as well, and from the meal I had would highly recommend it. It seems to receive mixed reports though, especially from when they first opened.

And I am also happy to hear about La Fidélité because I tried to book last night and they were complet, unless you wanted to give up your table by 21h, which I didn't. I was very lucky to get in to La Baratin instead, which was flawless, so it sounds like the gods were on my side.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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The lunch at La Fidélité was disappointing. It has been written up quite a bit lately but on the basis of my experience this week, I would qualify it as “much ado about little”. The interior is nice but there were hardly any customers. The starter of pumpkin soup with a splash of pesto and toasted sunflower pits had a nice taste, but was served too cold. The thinly breaded Pangasius (an Asian catfish), on a nice bed of haricots verts, was cooked too short and lacked zing. Maybe the cook had an off day and I was just unlucky, but I will not return to find out. Starter, main, glass of wine and coffee added up to €22.

La Fidelite, 12 Rue de la Fidelite, 10th

Darn, I was looking forward to it. Oh well. Thanks for warining me.

And after your and Felice's raves about Gazzetta maybe it's time to revisit and I keep putting off Monjul even though it's right across from my barber and I met the chef there.

At another favorite lunch spot of mine, I had a rather disappointing meal which was not up to their usual standards.
Ahhh, would you care to reveal its name?

Thanks for this wonderful report; I just wish everybody who seeks info here would report back.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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