Thursday, 28 March 2013

Boo in Paris - Septime la Cave

One of the most hyped restaurants in Paris right now is Septime.  Having not planned ahead we stood no chance of getting a table during our 4 day trip, so didn’t even attempt it, but we were lucky enough to have lunch on our last day at the newly opened Septime Cave.

The Cave, just across the road from the main restaurant is a little wine cellar with 3 stools at a bar, offering a small menu of wines by the glass and a few bar snacks.  We propped up the bar for a few hours ahead of our train back to London and were so impressed with the wines (bringing plenty home with us) and the food.  It’s not really marketed as a foodie destination, more a place to buy some good wines and perhaps crack open a bottle right there, or sample some others whilst grazing on some snacks.  

The place is stacked with wines from floor to ceiling, on each wall.  They also sell a bunch of other drinks and whilst it's a tiny room, they've really made the best of the space they have to work with.

We ordered pretty much 1 of everything between the 3 or us.  The toasted bread was replenished literally about 10 times without even having to ask.  


In this first picture is the foie gras with anguille fume (€10) which was great.  Even Art, not the biggest fan of fish, was taken with the smoked eel stuffed in the centre.  Great with the bread, from a local bakery.

Next to arrive was the saucisson salamino (€8) and the house smoked duck breast, magreb fume ici (€7).

Final batch of plates we ordered were the saint nectaire cheese (€8) the lombatello di cinta senese (€8) an Italian proscuitto type ham and, what was for me the best dish of the day, the ricotta anchois (€8).  The combo of anchovies with the creamy cheese topped with toasted bulghar wheat and plenty of Occhipinti extra virgin olive oil.  The oil was also left with us for regular top ups and I got a bottle to take away.  So good.  It’s from a small family run estate where some of the wines on offer are also produced. 

Onto the wines, the biggest hit of the day was probably the P.U.R BBQ 2011 which Bel took a few bottles of.  A full bodied red from the Chavanay region of France made with Syrah grapes.

I preferred the Bourgogne Aligote from Naudin-Ferrand, a fruity and smooth white.  Glasses of these to drink in range from 5-8 Euros and the bottles can be purchased for around 7-15 Euros.  And that is really all I should say about wine, because I know so little, but everything we tried was excellent.  So cheap and it really was the best way to spend the final few hours of our trip.  I had a cider too for €3.

I can’t think of anywhere similar to it here in London, it’s a brilliant idea.  There was a steady stream of visitors coming in to pick up a bottle or 2, and the lovely lady working there that day was so sweet and helpful.  It's a casual vibe and really ended our holiday on a high note.

Septime La Cave
3 Rue Basfroi, 75011 (Charonne)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Boo in Paris - Le Chateaubriand

No exaggeration, I've been trying to dine at Le Chateaubriand for about 4 years. My previous visits to Paris always coinciding with their summer and Christmas closures, so this time, the girls and I were determined not to miss out.

This and this report of how to bag a table came in really handy as we'd not managed to make a reservation. So we took up residence in sister restaurant Le Dauphin and kept an eye on the queue situation to ensure we were able to be relatively close to the front.

At Le Chateaubriend, the first sitting from 6pm allows organised diners to book in advance. As the tables turn, those who queue are able to try the tasting menu on a first come first served basis. There is no all night queue, it forms from about 9pm to reduce potential waiting times which seems like a much better way of doing it than the constant queues we see here in London.

We waited inside at the bar from just gone 9, drinking champagne for about an hour. Tables of 2 were seated ahead of us, bigger groups will need to wait for longer.

Once we were seated, we enjoyed the best meal of the whole trip and I now see what all the fuss is about and why for many Le Chateaubriand is still offering some of the best food that Paris has to offer.

There is a set tasting menu only, which changes on a daily basis and costs €60. A wine matching menu is also offered for €120 but we were already pretty merry.

First up came the amuse bouches.

 Cheese puffs - not particularly memorable, and we spotted some nearby diners
being served 2 each.  Only 1 each for us, boring start.

 Liqueur de tomates. Almost like a bloody Mary, a salty cold liquid with a 
chunk of avocado in the centre. This was seriously impressive and 
I annoyed everyone by banging on about how much I loved it.

 I still can't decide what fish this was but I think it was
monkish with horseradish and walnuts.  Nice textures.

 Octopus salad with asparagus and yoghurt. Another wow dish.

 Amuses done, a celery soup palate cleanser which was way better than it looked.

Some nice bread and butter arrived at this point along with the starter of boudin noir, choux de pointoise (cabbage from a suburb in the Northwest of Paris) and pimentón (paprika). This was the dish of the day for all of us who agreed that we would never have ordered it, but were thoroughly blown away by the combination. The boudin noir was the nicest blood sausage I have ever tried and the additions of grapefruit pulp and cabbage were genius. LOVED IT.

 Next up was our least favourite dish. Monkfish with carrots and bitter leaves. 
The sauce was a bit wishy washy and it lacked the flavour present in all the other dishes.

 Guinea fowl with squid cubes and beurre noisette. Another really brilliant dish. 
Lovely cooked meat with a nice tang from the onion and herb topping. 

Pre dessert of mandarin ice cream with rum soaked raisins. I didn't expect to 
like this but it provided a nice freshness and the raisins really packed a punch.

We shared 2 cheese plates and had an extra 2 desserts as concino del ciolo cannot be shared. How do you slice a runny egg yolk?! These split the table really. The Spanish sweet dish of pastry with toffee sauce topped with an egg yolk. Eaten in 1 mouthful the yolk pops and is only slightly sweet, blowtorched sugar forming a hard top and resuting in a gag reflex from half of our table. Certainly fun to eat.

The fromage, I forget which as the menu didn't specify, was a fine selection.
More bread was delivered with it.

To finish, we were given a plate of mango pieces topped with cumin and fennel seeds with what could have been other candied seeds but I can't be sure (the colourful balls pictured). We shared a bottle of red through the meal and by this point we were all flagging slightly having been on the 7:30am Eurostar from St Pancras that morning. A 1:30am finish to the meal took its toll on us and I was struggling to see straight!

To say we enjoyed this experience would be an understatement. The service and atmosphere was lively and fun. We paid €90 each and left full and happy, all boudin noir converts and I will certainly be back next time I'm in Paris. The wait we had feared was a non issue and the food some of the most innovative and interesting I've ever had.

Le Chateaubriand
129, Avenue de Parmentier

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Bob Bob Ricard

This has been a long time coming.  I finally had dinner at Bob Bob Ricard last weekend and have to say up front that it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time.

I think I'll leave the pictures to do the talking as they more than do the experience justice.  If I add more words, there is a danger I might be embarrassingly gushing.  Suffice to say that the lighting and ambience, the glassware, the service and the food more than lived up to the hype and I happily parted with £90 at the end of the evening. 

Clear bloody Mary with homemade essence of tomato (£13.50)
Slightly murky due to tabasco and worcester sauce additions

Fillet medallions rossini, served with seared fois gras, fois gras
crouton, truffle gravy (not yet poured) and spinach (£28.50)

Pressed roasted belly of suckling pork with red cabbage
and truffle gravy (£22.25)

Lobster burger with marie rose sauce (£27.75)

Lobster mac & cheese (£6.50)

Sides of fries, tomato salad, parsnips & carrots (£4.50 each) 
3 bird burger lurking in the background (£21.50)

Eton mess en perle (£8.25)

Striped strawberries and cream soufflé (£6.25)

Warm chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream (£8.25)

Trio of brulées, chocolate, passionfruit and earl gray tea (£7.50)

Now, I'm not usually crazy about desserts but each one of these was magnificant, and I also wanted to try the rice pudding brulée and the signature chocolate sundae dessert.  It's rare that I'm so torn when it comes to deciding what to have, but at BBR, everything is done so perfectly that it's a real dilema.

I genuinely loved everything about it.  If I had to find a negative, it would be that the butter served with the bread was hard and unspreadable, but it was a mere blip in an otherwise faultless evening.  It is a venue for wanton extravagance and abandon, it's positively encouraged and I hope to be back many many times.  And yes, we pressed for champagne! 

Bob Bob Ricard
1 Upper James St

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