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Miss J

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I've just returned from a city break in Paris. As it was my first trip (scandalous, considering how long I've been living in London) and the boyfriend simply isn't as food-obsessed as I am, we decided to make Great Paris Landmarks our focus rather than Great Paris Restaurants. I was utterly content with this plan, and was viewing it as an excellent way to test the "street standard" of food in Paris and/or French cuisine in general. (Steve P, Simon M and Wilfrid, I must confess I had your wranglings in mind. :wink:) However approximately three hours into our first day, as we took in the view from the Eiffle Tower, Mr J asked me to marry him. And so we decided that we ought to have a celebratory dinner, although we had neither a reservation nor a clue of where to go. :rolleyes:

We ended up at Luna, a one-star on rue Rocher in the 8th. The pleasantly small, art deco-inspired dining room was warmly arrayed in cream and beige, and the lighting surprisingly strong for the couple-heavy clientel. We were greeted at the door by the head waiter, a man so outrageously professional we speculated that he'd been groomed for silver service since birth. (At one stage, we become so mesmerised by his graceful filleting skills at the waiters' station in the centre of the room that we nearly neglected our own plates.) His old skool charm seemed unshakable, although a heartbeat's blink on his part when I selected and tasted our Chablis indicated that he was perhaps at the hidebound end of classic. Not that this reflected the rest of Luna's diners: although one chic older couple appeared (she dripping in her best jewellery and a fur wrap, he in his best waistcoat and tie), we saw one casually dressed regular tell his well-behaved dog to lie down under the table for the duration of his meal.

We shared a generous "amuse" of cockles in a chive butter sauce, delightfully sweet and tender though just the tiniest bit gritty. My starter, the house specialty of king prawns roasted in vanilla-flavoured oil, again excelled in flavour but was let down by a slight rubberiness in the texture of the prawns. However, Mr J's starter - a crisply filo-wrapped cake of Dublin Bay prawns and leeks with a smooth drizzle of reduced cream sauce - was superb in every aspect. ("It's a prawn pie," Mr J beamed as it was placed in front of him.)

When our mains arrived, it was clear that Luna's dedication to good ingredients and simple cooking had reached full momentum. My (whole) grilled turbot and Mr J's (whole) sole meuniere were presented for approval, and then whisked away to be nimbly prepared as mentioned above. My turbot was offered with a choice of extra virgin olive oil or a small pot of the now familiar reduced cream sauce, of which I selected the EVOO. Both fish were gorgeous: exquisitely fresh and meticulously cooked, with a firm just-a-nanosecond-away-from-raw texture. Their preparation was perfectly suited to their simple presentation. The only duff note was the perfectly smooth but strangely gluey pommes puree that appeared in a small silver dish halfway through our mains. It was a perfect illustration of Luna's focus on the fish to the exclusion of all else.

We were so overwhelmed by our seafood extravaganza that we couldn't give the dessert menu more than a halfhearted glance, although we were both alarmed and intrigued by the enormous cream-filled "Zanzibar babas" that were borne in triumph to other diners. Happy to finish with a couple of espressos and a plate of darkly chocolate discs, we left Luna full, happy, and with a new-found respect for filleting. Not bad for an unlooked-for celebration dinner. :wink:

Edited by Miss J (log)
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Vanessa, it was. Although as Mr J had gone into his rucksack under the pretense of doling out some dark chocolate, I confess I stared bemusedly for a couple of miliseconds when he presented me with a ringbox instead. Some part of my brain was still grappling with the, "hey...that's not chocolate," observation before I could answer. :laugh:

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"hey...that's not chocolate,"

Spoken like a true gastronome. :laugh:

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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