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L'Ardoise


Gary Marshall
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With a spring in our step to match the easter sunshine we left the hotel at about 11am on Saturday. I had thoughts of Pinxo but mixed reviews had made me uncertain and due to the fact that despite taking the contents of a small electrical goods store with me, I was unable to get on the internet and find the address or telephone number. Hotel reception was none the wiser so we headed 2 mins up the street to FNAC to browse the guides. Whilst nosing around I also noted there’s a recipes from la regalade cookbook out and also alain ducasse’s livre du cuisine in minature still 70e though but cheaper than the originals 200e odd!

I knew vaguely where pinxo was but as I have proved beyond doubt recently, vaguely is not good enough, so address in hand we metro’d over towards the louvre, indeed such old hands were we now at metroing we even splashed out on a carte mobilis, for some odd reason I was very taken with my shiny ticket and dinky folder! (Simple things/simple minds I assume).

It didn’t take long to find Pinxo (bet you weren’t expecting that!) but looking at the menu both french and english (I often find the literal translations harder to understand certainly less appealing, eg beurre noisette –yes please, brown/burnt butter sauce- no thanks). We weren’t impressed and I could see a large outlay/ mixed return outcome here, so we wandered on with vague thoughts of Maceo/Willi’s down the road.

A quick look at the guide though showed Maceo was shut Saturday lunch and the closer I got to Willis the more I knew that although apparently good value for lunch, I’ve never left there without irritation and could see the writing on the wall, another quick look at the guide suggested L’Ardoise was not far away and promising Sarah this would be the last suggestion we went off in search.

The name rang a bell from various posts but I couldn’t remember if they were positive or negative but the guide suggested the 30e menu was a winner and it fitted our new value for money dining strategy.

It turned out the restaurant was next in the next street to where we’d spent a few days on honeymoon with hindsight I wish we’d known about it then, it would have saved us a rain soaked trip across town one night!

L’Ardoise looked shut at first but no, it was open, I took a cursory glance at the 4ft chalk board menu in the window and saw ‘menu 30e’ and that was it, we were in.

The welcoming, sole waitress seated us and brought some bread, radishes and a pleasant but undeterminable dip.

The blackboard was brought over and from the choice of about 8 of each starters, mains & deserts.

After agonising deliberation over a glass of drappier nv , I started with tartare of tuna and ginger and sarah with lobster ravioli. My tuna came as a sizable, couple of inch thick disc and was just as described on the board, nice fresh fish with a bit of zing from the ginger. However Sarah as usual had the pick of the two, there were about six not giant, but certainly generously stuffed ravioli (especially when atelier robuchon charge 24e for one chunky one!) in a beautifully simple beurre blanc-esque sauce, this is the sort of sauce that makes me love french cooking, rich, creamy and mottled with oily droplets. I thought sarah may have left me some out of decency but no, she pretty much scoffed the lot.

For mains I had a ‘queue’ of monkfish with ‘choux chinois’ a cut across the tail with the bone in the middle and a pak/bok choi type veg,again in a saffrony-creamy sauce, served in a cast iron dish. I thought it may have been chinese spiced too but it was simple french, a good dish but, once again, sarah trumped it. Her red mullet with ‘vinaigrette tiede and beurre noissette’ was fantastic, good thick fillets of pan fried fish with the sauce counterbalancing well, the vinaigrette livening up the butter sauce. To top it all it came with a gorgeous potato gallette that I greedily picked at.

Deserts continued the trend a textbook apple tart on filo pastry for me and a noisette millefeuille for sarah, I also like the way they gave us steak knives to cut the pastry to avoid squashing the puds too much.

Off the short but not unreasonable wine list we tried a macon solutre, a 99/00 I think which was the one name on the list I hadn’t heard of, so assumed it was there for a reason, and it was. It had depth and colour I would have expected in a much more expensive bottle than this at around 30e I think. I was having such a pleasant time so I was in no rush to join the madding Easter crowds so it seemed rude not to finish with coffee and calva.

In terms of value for money/enjoyment ratio I think this was the best meal we had, nothing got in the way of an extremely pleasant couple of hours. It might not have a big name chef behind it or be particularly ‘designed’ but if you want good honest cooking at fair prices I don’t think you’ll go far wrong.

We emerged and made another assault on the Musay d’Orsay, this time there was no queue to speak of a quick tour of the big names satisfied my, admittedly low, need for culture.

All those pictures had made us thirsty, so we went to a bar and people watch around notre dame, before heading back to st germain for a final trip around the grand epicerie at au bon marche. We stocked up on a few easter choccy treats and watched enviably at the locals stocking up on the excellent fresh produce for their easter dinner.

A very pleasant day that unfortunately did not have a happy ending at guy savoy’s maitre albert, to follow……

cheers

gary

Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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  • 1 year later...

Here was a great example of great food ruined by bad service. I went to L'Ardoise in the 1st arrondissement and had the 3 course tasting menu and a couple bottles of wine with a group of friends.

The food was really good, as was the first bottle of wine. The server had a very difficult time figuring out which bottle this was. I had to tell her several times the name and also pointed it out on the wine list twice.

When the second wine was served, the server poured me a sample (a 1990 Chapoutier Hermitage blanc- Chante Allouette) and it smelled bad. I got a distinct sherry aroma from the wine and it was bright orange. It was clearly oxidized.

Trying to be polite I sent the bottle back using my less-than-perfect French. The server took the bottle and gave me the wine list. A moment later she returned with the bottle and said "actually the bottle is fine. This is a very particular white wine. It is very dry." All the while talking as if I'm a child.

I don't have an exhaustive knowledge of wine, but I have been in the industry for a while and I hold an intro sommelier certificate (which is more than this 22 year old server could likely say). This was offensive. Afterwards we still refused the bottle and then ordered the cheapest bottle on the list, which she opened and slammed on the table without serving it.

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A moment later she returned with the bottle and said "actually the bottle is fine. This is a very particular white wine. It is very dry." All the while talking as if I'm a child.

I don't have an exhaustive knowledge of wine, but I have been in the industry for a while and I hold an intro sommelier certificate (which is more than this 22 year old server could likely say). This was offensive. Afterwards we still refused the bottle and then ordered the cheapest bottle on the list, which she opened and slammed on the table without serving it.

It seems obvious that you didn't have very good service, but maybe you should have given this hermitage a second chance, for the girl was probably right. That's the way some white hermitages do age and it's not necessarily considered bad. I do like a very aged, oxidized hermitage. It's like fine jerez. Once I had an ancient, slightly oxidized chevalier-de-sterimberg (a fine hermitage blanc), and I enjoyed it tremendously. It was wonderful with seafood.

How much were you supposed to pay for that bottle? If they still have some, I'm interested.

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A moment later she returned with the bottle and said "actually the bottle is fine. This is a very particular white wine. It is very dry." All the while talking as if I'm a child.

I don't have an exhaustive knowledge of wine, but I have been in the industry for a while and I hold an intro sommelier certificate (which is more than this 22 year old server could likely say). This was offensive. Afterwards we still refused the bottle and then ordered the cheapest bottle on the list, which she opened and slammed on the table without serving it.

It seems obvious that you didn't have very good service, but maybe you should have given this hermitage a second chance, for the girl was probably right. That's the way some white hermitages do age and it's not necessarily considered bad. I do like a very aged, oxidized hermitage. It's like fine jerez. Once I had an ancient, slightly oxidized chevalier-de-sterimberg (a fine hermitage blanc), and I enjoyed it tremendously. It was wonderful with seafood.

How much were you supposed to pay for that bottle? If they still have some, I'm interested.

I have heard the same about older white hermitages. This is supposed to happen after a while and when I recently had a bottle that was 10 years old I noticed the process was beginning. White hermitage is a rather unusually wine, and white wines that are 16 years old are even more unusual. Why did you order this wine to begin with? If you were trying to be adventurous to try something you had never had that seemed exotic maybe you should have been more open to the opinion of the staff. It is probably the case that the server brought the bottle back to someone else who knew a lot about wine to get their opinion before she came back and said there was no problem. When ordering unusual and older wines the customer can really only return the wine if it is defective. Not if they do not like the style or think it has aged too much. Even for many red wines 16 years of age is considerable and brings with it risks that the wine is over the hill. It is hard to say without having been there, or knowing your experience with white hermitage, but you may want to rethink what happened.

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I had a similar experience recently. I wanted a wine to go with a Vacherin and the wine shop suggested an Arbois and said it might be an interesting combination. They let me know up front that this would be an unusual wine. I never had it with the Vacherin and it was still in my refridgerator last week when I was having friends over. So, when the first person arrived I opened the bottle and it smelled really strange, a bit like whisky and not at all like any wine I had ever smelled. We then tasted it, both made a face and decided this was not what we wanted for an aperatif. To me it tasted just terrible but not corked. Since I knew this was supposed to be a very different style, I wasn't sure that it was bad. Luckily another friend was familar with the style, tasted it, and proclaimed it was perfect and proceeded to pour herself a glass.

I really think that when ordering such a wine, the waiter or someone should warn the guest and let them know this was not going to be your average white. My wine shop did, so I knew to expect something different and wasn't upset when I didn't enjoy it. They also should have sent someone who was more knowledgeable to explain why that this was the style. It could have been handled better. But, perhaps it was a language problem. It's one thing to take someone's order in English, it's another to explain the qualities of a wine, especially during a busy service.

Edited by Felice (log)

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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I had a similar experience recently.  I wanted a wine to go with a Vacherin and the wine shop suggested an Arbois and said it might be an interesting combination.  They let me know up front that this would be an unusual wine.  I never had it with the Vacherin and it was still in my refridgerator last week when I was having friends over.  So, when the first person arrived I opened the bottle and it smelled really strange, a bit like whisky and not at all like any wine I had ever smelled.  We then tasted it, both made a face and decided this was not what we wanted for an aperatif.  To me it tasted just terrible but not corked.  Since I knew this was supposed to be a very different style, I wasn't sure that it was bad.  Luckily another friend was familar with the style, tasted it, and proclaimed it was perfect and proceeded to pour herself a glass.

I really think that when ordering such a wine, the waiter or someone should warn the guest and let them know this was not going to be your average white.  My wine shop did, so I knew to expect something different and wasn't upset when I didn't enjoy it.  They also should have sent someone who was more knowledgeable to explain why that this was the style.  It could have been handled better.  But, perhaps it was a language problem.  It's one thing to take someone's order in English, it's another to explain the qualities of a wine, especially during a busy service.

One can also not expect every server to be a wine expert. Nor can smaller restaurants take the time to discuss wine choices with every client. I think some responsibility is up to the customer when choosing an unusual wine (any white wine that is 15 years old qualifies as unusual in my opinion) to either know upfront what to expect or ask about the wine.

PS you should give the Arboir a try again, this time with some creamed morels and asparagus. In my opinion it reminds me a bit of good dry sherry. Arboir can also age 15-20 years like white Hermitage.

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We did indeed give the wine a second chance. I asked her to leave it on the table before serving it and it had 15 or so minutes to breathe. Afterwards it was still bad. I have had a number of older whites, and I expect them to brown and change their characteristics, but this was bright orange. It seemed it likely had also seen some heat damage. This was undoubtedly a faulty bottle and I would expect the restaurant to handle this with more grace.

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We did indeed give the wine a second chance. I asked her to leave it on the table before serving it and it had 15 or so minutes to breathe. Afterwards it was still bad. This was undoubtedly a faulty bottle and I would expect the restaurant to handle this with more grace.

Letting this particular wine "breathe" was not likely to change it in any way, since hermitage blanc becomes stable once it's oxidized. I'm with mdibiaso on the idea that the waitress probably got the information from someone back there who knew about the wine and tasted it, and I'm also sure that they wouldn't have given you this information in order to fool you. This seldom happens anyway, and not with very particular wines like old Hermitage blanc.

It's quite likely that the wine wasn't bad, only you didn't enjoy it. What a waste ! :biggrin: Now if it really got a heat stroke, then the person who tasted it and sent it back to you would certainly have told you so and removed the bottle instead. Sorry if this may offend you, but the fact that after that experience you chose to order the cheapest wine instead of browsing again seriously through the wine list probably sent the restaurant staff the message that you had poor taste. Hence their attitude. Which is not an excuse but perhaps an explanation.

I'm curious about this place, I might drop by and try it. Again, how much were you supposed to pay for the hermitage? That sort of wine is a bit hard to come by.

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Here is some info I got 3 years back from Chapoutier on the life cycle of Hermitage blanc. As you will note oxidation is normal with these wines. Maybe you needed to wait 5 years not 15 minutes, and with an unopened bottle. Why not take something positive from this and go out and buy a good bottle of Hermitage blanc and let it cellar for 15 years. I am going to let my Le Meal go until at least 2020.

"For Le Meal 1997 blanc in magnum is a very oustanding wine.

You can drink it today but you can wait some more years. In 1 or 2 years it will be more spicy than now, again more complex ....

And after it will go into a oxydation phase during a few years. De L'Orée 1991 is in this phase. That a typic reaction for Marsanne wines.

But this oxydation phase will disappear after some more years and let place to a flavour of English sweet ....

Best regards,

DIDIER Yohan

Tasting room M.CHAPOUTIER"

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