Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lobster Bar, Paris, jumps on the Yankee comfort food bandwagon

Let's be frank, lobster rolls are sexy sandwiches. Maybe, the sexiest sandwich that exists, conjuring up images of New England summers, secluded beaches, the pervasive smell of suntan oil. Firm, delicate meat, creamy sauce, the crunch of an ever so slightly toasted bun. In New England, with lobster available pretty much everywhere for cheap, it's part of the local culture and collective memory, yet still has cachet.

Flash to Paris where a new Lobster Bar has been opened by a former Swiss screenwriter, pining for an imagined Maine, seaside childhood that never happened, replacing the local Maine product for Breton bleu, with a side of fries and salad for 26€ (!). Turns out it's just another luxe Frenchification of American comfort food.

The Figaroscope says "10cm of limp, panini grilled sandwich at 26€, find the error", and calls them "cette arnaque", which in French is a nasty word for swindle or theft.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


A surefire way of measuring the excellence of a restaurant is how it haunts you. Now matter how many stars a certain chef may have, or how hot that new bistro chef is or how much science went into the cooking of that astoundingly impossible looking dish, the yardstick of true culinary goodness and greatness is gastronomic flashback, a dish or dishes that just won't let loose their grip on your primordial taste brain.

Well Goust did that to me. A week after my meal there with my gastronomic partner in crime Alec, "The second restaurant from the world's number one sommelier" as the chin high sign before the door proclaims really is something special and unique in Paris. Opened just a couple months ago by Enrico Bernardo, the youngest world champion sommelier ever, this room just oozes charm and class, with a cozy modern apartment decor not unlike what my friend and dining partner in crime says, "a 1960's Lufthansa first class lounge, but in a good way!". It is tasteful, and very well designed with lots of attention to detail. That's what Philippe Starck a few tables over said anyway.

The humble Valencia born chef , José Manuel Miguel, who cut his teeth most recently at Le Bristol as well as at with Martin Berasategui in Spain's Basque region creates deceptively simple dishes, using French techniques melded with sometimes rare and unusual (in Paris anyway) Spanish produce:think Valencia style rice long cooked in a seafood broth, impermeated with the flavor of the sea, a tuna tartar with a mango "egg" and Thai basil,  technically impressive dishes, with exceedingly precise temperatures and textures...

The wine list reads like an eclectic best of from across France, Spain and Italy: a 2011 Chablis from Louis Michel, 2011 Sicilia Grillo from Firriato, a 2011 Rueda Verdeja from Lunton, Alsdee Pinot Gres 2010 from Weinbach, a 2011 Volnay from J.M. Boillot, finished off with a 10 year old porto Tawny Grahays.

The building itself, like a transplanted Florentine palace adds to the unique setting. A reasonable value 3 dish 35€ menu is available for lunch, but I'd suggest saving up your centimes and going for the full blast degustation menu with wine pairings in the evening with your own partners in crime.