Friday, February 11, 2011

Restaurants Galore in Paris

I have just returned from a 2 week trip to Paris with my friend Caroline where we spent practically all of our time eating. And oh what a joy it was! I have loads to share with you all about new finds (and only one place to stay away from.). I will devote this entry to the top 3 from this trip.

First Place - Frenchie
Caroline and I waltz up to Frenchie after a little apero of bubbly and walk into a tiny, busy restaurant. "Do you have a reservation?" "No", we say knowing that in Paris it is risky to show up without a reservation, but we thought we would attempt it. Back outside, we stood staring at the menu discovering a bit more about this restaurant. As we did so, the man came back out and said that they had had a cancellation and to come right in! Tickled pink we danced our way in and sat down at a small wooden table tightly packed in with fellow diners. Before I tell you about the incredible meal I want to share with you what we learned about Frenchie throughout our night and our stay in Paris. A couple sat next to us at one point, who own a bakery in Spain and were doing research about restaurants since they hope to open one soon, and they promptly asked us fellow foodies how far out we had reserved our table! We smiled blushing and said that we had just walked in! Later on I also realized that this restaurant was not from a guidebook I had researched restaurants from, it was from a Saveur article on the best bistros in Paris. And even later on in our stay, the more people we told about eating at Frenchie, the more questions we got about how far out we had to reserve. Hysterical! So my recommendation is reserve early or get on a waitlist and hope for cancellations because IT IS WORTH IT!

First course - smoked trout over a grain much like quinoa with a tropical fruit jus and shaved cauliflower and a little arugula. Delicate delight.
Second course - duck with fig reduction and little gelees of passion fruit. Look at that duck! Yum.
Totally delighted and excited about the food here, we decided to throw in some foie gras at this point of our meal. This, my friends, was divine.
Cheese/Dessert - I enjoyed a slice of gooey St.Nectaire and Caroline enjoyed (more than anything she has ever eaten...) what they called a cheesecake, but it was more like a cloud of creme fraiche with passion fruit jus.

All this deliciousness accompanied by this wine -
Frenchie ranks up there with one of the best restaurants I have eaten at. The service is kind and warm, and the food is stellar. They take a modern approach, but don't make it look like modern art threw up on your plate and don't overcomplicate flavors and truly develop a great balance in tastes and textures.

Second Place - Ze Kitchen Gallery
Located just by the Seine in the ritzy 6th arrondissement, Ze Kitchen Gallery is a vibrant restaurant with art on the walls with a large window into the kitchen where cooks keep an eye on you and you keep an eye on the cooks. The clientele was mostly business professionals out to lunch and some people who looked like important government types. No tourists this time of year. As the mostly all gay waiters flew around us, delicately tending to their guests, we enjoyed another creative, perfectly balanced meal. We went there for lunch where we enjoyed the 39 euro 3 course menu. My photos look dark, but do not be fooled...the space was full of natural light and quite airy.

First course - langoustine ravioli for moi and Caroline enjoyed super high quality beef covered in a lemongrassy, Asian flare broth. It is amazing to me how much flavor they pack into their broths and sauces, but without being too salty or too much of anything. Awesome.

Those are two glasses of Sancerre you see there...
Second course - Sole prepared with Asian flare again...hints of ponzu and lemongrass...
Dessert - a cappuccino of peanut foam over hazelnut chocolate ganache.
Another neat thing about Ze Kitchen is that the menu includes filtered flat or sparkling water as well as un cafe. Quite enjoyable indeed!!

Third Place - Quai Quai
Looking for French classics, but not the heavy ones, eat here. Located on Ile de la Cite right next to the Seine and Place Dauphine, you will not be disappointed. The quai side of the establishment has a bar and a more casual feel, but if you go towards the back room there are white tablecloths and a more elegant feel.

First course - Terrine de campagne with its own jar of cornichons! Accompanied by fresh, tasty baguette and off to my food heaven I went. My aunt enjoyed leeks with vinaigrette presented in a more modern fashion. My camera settings were off, so it's a bit dark. Whoops!

All accompanied by a delicious Macon and they also had the house sparkling water.

Main course - Cabillaud with braised endives that tasted like butter. Wow.

These 3 restaurants were delicious. A nice blend of new, modern takes on food with classics all done well. I look for balance of flavors and textures when dining and these establishments knocked it out of the park. Obviously I have tons of other favorite restaurants in Paris, but these were my amazing new finds this trip. Bon appetit!

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