Saturday, December 19, 2009

P53 dish of the moment

Artichokes cooked 'tempura' style (Shin-sana doesn't like that word) on a bed of yuzu tinted oysters(not Gillardeau, by the way). The new veal tartar. And one of the best things you can eat in Paris at the moment, the ultimate Franco-Nippon surf and turf.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Self Revelation no.1

Am I just an overheated fanboy on the periphery of culinary genius and innovation?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Caffè dei Cioppi

Open kitchen

Tiny dining room - 14 seats!

Buffala mozzarella with grilled vegetables and roquette

Subtle, if watery , safran risotto

Sbrisolona: Dessert of the year?

I decided to let things cool down and go after Mr. Tout le Monde Bloggeur Critique to test this hot new table which virtually anyone has heard about by now such as their gastronomic press firestorm been.

This tiny little table is located not too far away from the Bastille in a grungy but ever increasingly bobo part of the 11th arondissement, and hidden along a small passageway, which in the summer has a great little terrace. The dining room has only 14 seats, making last minute bookings pretty much impossible (we had an hour to eat..), but it's worth trying your luck because this place is great value. The ambience is very elbow to elbow, with diners getting all chummy, cool Jazz piped in, the kitchen totally open plan with casseroles boiling away, and three stools at a sort of bar with a full view of the action. The chef used to second the kitchens of the Relais Plaza at the Plaza Athenée hotel, and for the price the cooking shines pretty bright, with only a couples hicks here and there. I hoped to have the burrata cheese advertised on the menu, but , hélas, even being the first client of the day, they were out of stock and replaced it with an excellent mozza, accompanied by a salad of grilled veg and roquette. The following lasagna with sausage was delicious, although the safran risotto, for me, was pretty bland and too watery, and needed a copious dusting of pepper and salt (I'm told their red wine and sausage version is really good, but wasn't on the menu). Desserts were impeccable, especially the crunchy corn flour and almond based biscuits (known as sbrisolona) and marscapone cream, surely one of the most delicate sweets of the year. Count on spending about 30-35 Euros per person with a glass or two of wine.

Caffè dei Cioppi
159 rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, 11th
+33 1 43 46 10 14

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Don't make me go to the Kitchen Galerie bis!

For once, I've been purposely avoiding a newly opened restaurant. It's painful. Especially when it's from a chef you like and admire, and that every blogging Tom, Dick and Harry is reporting back from the gastronomic battle lines telling you how great it is, pushing all those iPhotos in your face as if to say: I'm here first. I did it before you. I rule the Paris gourmet vanguard. Not . You.

Yesterday I finally ceded after having allowed the KGB or Kitchen Galerie bis to mature a little and find its footing (also to be able to garner a table reservation!). It was a last minute thing, but the amiable Jerome, who I know from William Ledeuil's mother ship restaurant was able to fit me in.

The place was pretty much as I expected, a toned down version of the one star Michelin Ze Kitchen Galerie just down the street, offering a more humble, gentler on the wallet French/asian fusion cuisine from a young Israeli chef, Yariv Berrebi, who staged with Ledeuil and also worked with Yannick Alleno at the three-star Meurice. I was surprised to hear that a great may of the new "bobo" diners hadn"t even heard of the original restaurant, such as the bulldozer of gastro-media buzz deafens everything around it, paving its way to the next hot table. The staff itself wasn't even prepared for the onslaught of attention brought by the local food press and especially those contributing to the blagosphere.

I won't say much here that hasn't already been said: the menu starts of with "ze hors d'oeuvres" , which funnily enough were my favourite part of the meal (deep fried lamb balls, duck consommé with foie gras, pork belly ravioli, etc etc ) , followed by a sort of Thai pot au feu of pasta and spices, then the marmite of scallops, litchi and wasabi. The white chocolate and wasabi soup was a bit underwhelming, as were the wines I tried ( it was a 2007 burgundy, so a bit young anyway..) , and they need to figure out the annoying glitchy soundproofing (lack of?) , but all in all lots of fun, but are they dangerously close to being a flash in the pan as an esteemed client and fellow gourmet told me ?

Zes tapas Thai

Scallops, litchi, wasabi

Guinea fowl , fondant, delicious

A little underwhelming white chocolate and wasabi soup

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christopher Hache New Chef at Les Ambassadeurs

Crillon gets the "axe"

After months of speculation, cuisinerenligne scoops the new chef of the Hotel Crillon's Les Ambassadeurs, the 28 year old former second of the Bristol's Eric Frechon , Christopher Hache. Hache worked most recently at the one star Grande Cascade under the tutelage of Frédéric Robert, former chef at the Lucas Carton under Alain Senderens.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Memo to the Heinz people - Pittsburgh ends in 'h'

Funny how such a simple thing such as, GASP, fact-checking can get overlooked by a multibillion dollar company such as Heinz.

Yes, people, Pittsburgh is spelled with a 'h' at the end....

...just not on the millions of 140 year commemorative bottles that just hit the shelves.

And yes, I will consult for money.... ;)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

La Branda


Lamb Mixed grill

Pumpkin with homemade yoghurt

Sometimes you come across a place in the neighborhood that is pleasant, affordable and unknown, and just right for a perfectly satisfying eating experience. I've walked past this unassuming Turkish restaurant for the past three years or so not giving it a second thought, and through a series of mishaps, ended up dining there last night.

The decoration is pretty nonexistant, although they do highlight local artists, sometimes Turk, on their walls, and the service is warm and welcoming.

The cuisine is Ottoman, primarily grilled meat and fish, and the family who owns the restaurant hail from Izmir, the name Labranda coming from the name of a small town on the city's outskirts.

The food was perfectly acceptable, from the starter of nine mezze (aubergine, egglant, spinach, hummus, blettes, tzatziki, eggs, topped by two golden, flaky cheese filled rolls) , followed by the lamb mixed grill, perfectly cooked to juicy perfection, and a grilled pumpkin dessert with fresh homemade yogurt.

The bill came to be about 25€ per person, including a half bottle of okay Turkish wine. A nice change from the local kebab house.

Restaurant La Branda
18 rue Louis Blanc, 10th
+33 1 40 36 29 76

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chez Michel - Ze big disappointment

Last minute dinners always get me. In my day job or as gastro consultant for my friends and colleagues, no problem, a perfect table is always found. When I'm trying to find a place for myself for a nice night out, however, always the eternal dilemma, the soul searching begins. I find the perfect idea, I change it, I worry if my friends will like it, I question my desires, my cravings. I think of the previous weeks web and food press, various recommendations, tables I'd like to try and haven't. All this happened to me again last night, when confronted with having to find a place to dine for myself. Where? Passage 53 went to last week and had a marvelous lunch. I wanted something new. Or something I'd never tried. I thought of KGB, but the massive recent press made that impossible. ZKG, the maison mère didn't answer the phone. I thought of Krung Thep, my fave Thai, but felt like French. La Grille, an eminently old school establishment, was fully booked. Villaret, Chéri Bibi, Fidelité, Sardegne a Tavola, Kiku all came to mind. And faded away. We decided on Chez Michel. After all, why not, the proto-bistronomique is every Parisian gastronomes fave for it's 32€ menu and well turned out food.

Last night was different. When entering the restaurant, the usual chaos ensued: waiters rushing around, and being shouted at. Locals mixing with Dutch and English tourists, clutching their recent (but outdated) editions of Time Out and Fodors, having trekked out to this far flung corner of the city for their gourmet graal. The same menu at 32€ for three courses and a blackboard highlighting other more complicated/elegant dishes, with their pricing supplements. Game had , as always, a prominent place on the menu, and the lievre a la royale looked to be the choice for my dining partners and I. But with a 25€ supplement! We soldiered on and ordered. The starter of pate en croute of gibiers and foie gras with it's accompanying herb salad from well executed and good (supplement 5€), followed by the royal hare, which was entirely uninspiring. A smattering of tasteless, odorless shaved black truffles covered the dish, and my friend Philippe had another , unexpected supplement: a plastic film covering his lievre. The server was shown the dish and he said, simply, "Oh that's there to shape the dish on the plate". Even when another large piece of plastic was found on the plate, no reaction, no apology. Chef Thierry Breton didn't even bother stopping by, except to suggest a pricey, though good Domaine Gramenon Pascale. Funnily enough, he wasn't even in the kitchen, which seemed to be manned by Japanese stagiaires..

So word to all you Parisian foodies and cued up gastrotourists: Chez Michel seems to have passed its sell-by date. Move on to new gourmet pastures.

Lievre a la Royale

Lievre a la Royale avec plastique

Monday, October 26, 2009

Piege's Secret Thoumieux Tasting Labo!

Can't wait for Piege to open his new gastro/tasting/laboratory upstairs from Thoumieux. Should be soon. A Robuchon-y open kitchen and democratization of high gastronomy for a select few communal diners (20 covers). Opens in March 2010.

You heard it here first.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Week in Food

Espelette tartar at L'Aubrac

Black mojito at Charbon Rouge

Som Tam at Krung Thep

Burger at Annette's

Tarte Kluger



Table 28

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chicken Coup - Daniel Rose's Table 28

The famous "coucou de Rennes"

Aforementioned chicken with thinly sliced gratin

cake with pear compote, creme fraiche and chocolate

As much as I despise all the bandwagon, tablehopping restaurant blagging, the gods of the gastronomic zeitgeist have dictated that I must report about the hottest new table in town, namely yankie wunderchild chef Daniel Rose's brand spanking new "neighborhood joint", Table 28.

In place of the former Spring (old signage still up) , this modern little rotisserie serves up a simple menu composed of good quality products. This evening: roast chicken (the rare coucou de Rennes, no less), complemented by apples and roast potatoes in goose fat, and a mushroom salad with grenadines, followed by pears with honey, pear cake and pear compote with creme fraiche and chocolate. The idea is not to do another Spring, but rather a remote-controlled, Rose consulted menu that will appeal to neighbors (ie take out) as much as clued-up, jetsetting diners, with another chef behind the oven (leaving Rose to continue his other projects). The entire meal tonight was prepared by Daniel, who wasn't actually supposed to be there, and we counted ourselves as the lucky few, as this will not be a likely occurrence in the future. Again, this is not Spring II, but a simple place for a good meal, early or late, without spending a fortune. Menus are 29€ or 34€, whether you order a quarter or a half chicken.

Coming up soon are a new Spring Boutique (opening in a month or so) at 52 rue de L'Arbre Sec in the 1st, and, obviously the one everybody is waiting for, the new Spring, next March at 6 rue Bailleul, with lots of surprises in store (artisinal hot dogs, doughnuts, that new nitrogen ice cream machine...)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Buddha Bar World Backpacker Domination

Finally the Buddha Bar people have found their niche. Unfortunately, the (formerly) trendy Parisian restaurant , which at last check was cool about ten years ago has decided to cash in on their biggest crossection of clientele: namely, The Backpacker. Those pour souls, who, in following their sadly outdated guidebooks and their hopelessly clueless friends (who last visited the town a decade ago in the BB's heyday), congregate in the Buddha bosom, eying hungrily the tourist trap gift shop CD collection before sharing a Japanese beer at the bar. The genius of it all is that they have opened Prague's "trendiest" hotel, and will be capitalizing on this easily impressionable , and easy to fool clientele. Bravo!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

La Crise

I've been going out a lot less to restaurants lately (aside from my freelance testing activities..) because my funding has been (for whatever reason we won't get into here) rather limited. Hopefully this will change soon enough, however in the mean time, if any wealthy anonymous benefactors feel like chipping in, please don't hesitate to fill up the tip box on my blog page. All major credit cards accepted ;) , and you can live vicariously through me....
Far be it for me to criticize crazy ass ideas, but this........?!!?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Passage moment

I was watching them film this while I enjoyed a Hugo Desnoyer veal tartar with Gillardeau oysters...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

At least the spambots visit me...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Names have not been named to protect the gastronomically guilty

Funny how this (ie, snacks at a hotel bar located near the Champs Elysees)

titilated my taste buds more than this (ie one of the most famous Michelin starred establishments in Paris):

Saturday, September 12, 2009


McDonald's macarons from Ladurée.

Anyone seen this yet? The McCafé offering hamburgeresque macarons from Holder (ie, owner of Ladurée).

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Jardin familale (or Fun with Gourds)

BBQ and gardening in the 'hood under the last rays of summer sunshine in one of the disappearing 'jardins familiaux', or 'workmen's gardens', popular years ago, but now dwindling away. Located in often less than desirable (but close) Parisian suburbs, these establishments are large (my friend's measures 150 m2), private (access with key only), and convivial (old, drunk Portuguese garden neighbors) , cabana for storing essentials (ie, alcohol and BBQ grill wood and charcoal). And the icing on the cake is that it costs only 92 € for the yearly rent! Oh, and there is a two year waiting list...

Despite all that, I forsee a new trend in hip gardening and organic staycation weekends. Watch this space.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Lazy mood today- a little French fast food. (from Gault et Millaut's 2008 Best Butcher, Christophe Martin).
Proposed this idea a thousand times to trusted editors months ago, and no one bit. Oh well, I guess the greater denominator is and always has been not so cutting edge. And, wow!, two of the hot bars featured (wondered why I'd never heard of them..) are the author's own locals, on her street meme!

Marché de Barbès

North African pastries at nearby Barbès bakery

Arab and Berber women selling homemade filled crepes in front of the Barbès metro

I've always been a rabid devotee of the highest end food purveyors in Paris, but lately , I think la crise has been giving everyone pause for thought , including moi meme. . This morning's visit of the Marché de Barbès in Paris' "Goutte d'Or" neighborhood was in part motivated by the silly idea that the market might be less crowded because of Ramadan (or so a friend of mine told me) , and as the fridge was empty ....

The market was jam packed, and I drove my caddy with glee over a number of people's toes in an effort to scarf up those 99 cent kilos of coeur de boeuf tomatoes (Provence) and 50 cent ripe mangos. Next time I'll hit them at closing time and scarf up the real deals.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monkey's Groovy Bar and Funky Food

One day after shopping for my asian food product fix at the nearby Paris Store in Belleville, I passed by this strangely decorated bar/resto, thinking nothing of it, other than it looked, just, well, out of place, with an omnipresent stylized ape logo, and multicolored furniture, it didn't look quite right. Then a couple of trusted friends told me that their burgers were, in the words of one, 'legendary'. So I had to check it out. It turns out the chef did time in the kitchens of the Meurice, and ended up associating himself with Nicolas Barthelemy, an Oberkampf bar owner who wanted to change 'hoods.

I dropped by this afternoon to check it out, and ordered their no. 2, a minced lamb burger, with coriander, ginger, Thai basil all enveloped in a cereal bun, accompanied with home cut frites. Everything seemed fresh and homemade, although the fries were a little cold, and the bottom part of the burger disintegrated halfway through eating it. The music was moody and funky, service very friendly, and the beer and food (4€ for the pint of Stella, 10€ the burger) reasonably priced. Other burgers include satay sauced chicken, beef with thyme, mozza, pickles and beefheart tomato, and even a veggy version for the effete set.

The bar and kitchen are open until 2am, making this an interesting alternative to other nearby bobo Belleville bars (Aux Folies, Café Cherie, etc)

PS Apologies for the iPhone pic...

68 boulevard de la Villette, 19th

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Blackberryfication of the Concierge

I should have seen this coming a mile away. . I can just imagine those corporate eggheads at Hyatt ground zero saying to themselves, 'How could we possible offer more service?' ie , give hopped up, pain-in-the-ass clients even more ways to spend their time in complete verbal masturbation with hotel staff, in order to avoid the wide-eyed, middle of the night terror of not having that perfectly organized hotel trip.

Then again, maybe it's genius.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chilled glass of rosé on the Canal is beckoning...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Oscar: Simple, good value on the edge of the Triangle d'Or. Tiny, expensive sidestreet in the 16th, just behind the avenue Marceau. 21€, three course lunch menu. Chicken salad with tomatoes, green beans, carrot, beetroot, and Parmesan. Excellent steak tartar (normally if it's not coupé au couteau, I won't touch it).Expertly mixed with ketchup, tabasco, etc etc, served with fresh potatoes. OK fondant au chocolat. . But at this price, it's hard to complain.

6 rue de Chaillot, 75116 Paris

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ari - Mme Shawn's Thai concept trainwreck

I knew I shouldn't have. I really did. But sometimes after a few too many glasses we all make stupid dining plans. Last night's was particularly disastrous, even more so coming from a restaurateur that I've been frequenting for a long time.

I've been going to Madame Shawn's discreet little Thai bistro for a few years now, and although I know it's not the most authentic , and that their staff seem to change mysteriously with each ship coming in from Bangkok, I've always been able to trust their food quality and consistency. In the last couple of years, Madame Shawn has built a sort of empire, with new establishments popping up in the upper Marais, the 11th, the 16th and two others near her original restaurant near the Canal Saint Martin.

The most recent opening is Ari, in what was formerly Le Sporting, a sort of fusion place with Asian, French and Asian/French specialties. The staff weren't really able to explain the concept, (or even speak much French to tell the truth) , but none of the dishes seemed to be done correctly with a general confusion pervading the room when dishes showed up. We probably should have left at this point, except that the lady who runs the place we knew from the original Madame Shawn was so happy to see us, the terrace was full of apparently happy, good looking people ,and those four pints....

We decided to keep it simple. I took the green papaya salad with dried beef. Why, I don't know, but Madame Shawn's original Som Tam is my favorite in Paris. Here it was a total miss. Not spiced enough, and covered in strips of blackened, tough meat. The Asian "Brie burger" proved to be pretty much inedible, dry, piled too high with ingredients to eat, and accompanied by frozen potato wedges.

Funnily enough, throughout the meal, images of Kitchen Nightmares were going through my head, with Chef Ramsey lurching off to the bathroom to retch. That feeling was reinforced when seeing a kitchen staff member leave men's room without washing hands.

So sorry Madame Shawn, with all due respect, there's no saving this place in it's current form. Advice: Reduce the menu drastically to simple "exotic" snacks, chic comfort foods, crank the ambient music, and turn this trainwreck of a concept into a Canal friendly lounge that'll pay the bills along the line and keep your rep unsallied.

Le Grand Venise

Vegetable "amuse bouche"


Mussels in creamy lime sauce


Antipasti Armegeddon

Langoustines served with home made tartar

Tower of caramel ice cream

It's almost a shame to publicize my recent meal at Paris' most discreet insider Italian. Located in the residential fifteenth far from the center, and run by the amazing Marina (who, though far from young, still goes to Rungis immediately after the dinner service ends at 1 or 2 am), this place is packed with well-heeled families and foreigners, celebs, magnates, most of whom would eat nowhere else. The dining room is a bit kitch, filled with flowers and plants, the food over the top with the very best ingredients in copious amounts, service pro, the perfect place to go with a large group of friends for the table topping generosity of this hidden gem.

A typical meal starts off with a basket of garden vegetables, gorgonzola, mascapone, two types of butter, olives, superb homemade olive oils and balsamic vinegar and freshly toasted bread. This is best followed by the platter of charcuterie (Parma ham, mortadella, salami, coppa, pancetta) and/or the massive antipasti platter with fava beans, mussels in a creamy lime sauce, marinated peppers, fritto misti, aubergines, fried onions, followed by a very correct tagliatelli carbonara, and their famous towering block of homemade caramel ice cream accompanied by cherries with cinnamon and cloves. All washed down with champagne served in frosty glasses and small run Toscan wines.

Be forewarned: it's expensive but worth it, kind of like an Italian Ami Louis.

PS Sorry for the iPhotos, but I was more into eating and drinking than archiving...