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 Locals mixing with Dutch and English tourists, clutching their recent (but outdated) editions of Time Out and Fodors, having trekked out to this far flung corner of the city for their gourmet graal.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...