Friday, September 24, 2010
When we were sick we stayed home and ate chicken soup. Now that we're better we're making up for it. On Sunday we had a delicious dinner at our old favorite Le Comptoir du Relais and a couple of nights ago we dined at a new favorite called le 20 on rue de Bellechasse, a narrow bistro that reminds us of one of those New York restaurants you find tucked around the Upper East Side serving very good classic dishes to people from the neighborhood.
Last night we weren't very hungry and went out in search of a drink in the warm evening air. We wound up at the Café de l'Odeon, a newish place attached to the Theatre de l'Odeon and which has, in good weather, tables and chairs spread comfortably across the forecourt of the Theatre. There's a small menu of snacks to have with drinks and we ordered a plate of charcuterie from Eric Ospital, who provides pork products to most of the better restaurants around. Two kinds of ham along with a pile of thin-sliced chorizo, some good butter and bread and a few cornichons served as a lovely dinner for two along with a couple of glasses of red wine.
And today we really hit the jackpot with lunch at Spring. For those of you who aren't dedicated foodies, you may not know that Daniel Rose, an American chef who single-handedly opened and ran the tiny hit Parisian restaurant of 2006 in the out-of-the-way 9th arrondissement, has been trying for the last couple of years to open a somewhat larger place in the center of Paris. For various reasons this new restaurant's opening was delayed until this summer. It's now open and serving prix fixe lunch and dinner, as well as an a la carte wine bar menu in the basement.
Expanded from the 16 seats the original restaurant had, and which, for much of its existence, Daniel managed to run either completely alone or with the help of one or two others, the new incarnation has a grand total of 26 seats, served by an equipe of 11 people. The kitchen is essentially part of the dining room and watching the preparation is part of the meal. It's sort of like going to the ballet.
And what a meal it was: a first course of a bit of pink trout served with eggplant caviar, a coddled egg and a few arugula leaves, followed by chard-wrapped sea bass in an artichoke broth containing some pureed artichoke and tender slices of leek. Just when you thought you had died and gone to heaven, along came some stunningly tender on the inside and crispy on the outside fried chicken, of all things, just to shake up your expectations. We passed on the cheese course, which looked lovely, and finished with blackberries in coulis, topped with cocoa crisps. And again a little unexpected flourish: rather than the amuse bouches one often gets at the beginning of a meal, here we got a tiny spoonful of raspberry sorbet with pistachio crumbs, followed by a bite of bitter chocolate served with a touch of lemon curd.
You've never seen happier people than we were as we rolled out the door. I can't wait to come back, maybe even next week.