Tuesday, 11 December 2012

edible paris: bistro dining

profiteroles concluded at cafe constant
the bistrot is a parisian essential. there is some contention to its history especially in nomenclature but as i discovered on this trip they are the place to enjoy simple and yet excellent lunches and suppers. this of course is to be qualified as not all bistrots are alike. my recommendations are drawn from food loving friends s and s. but do not despair if you have no friends like that as ‘paris by mouth’ has a very concise list of restaurants, bakeries, confectionary and pastry shops to assist you in your edible adventures. its mouths include my favourite parisian food blogger clotilde dusolier and dorrie greenspan.

the essentials for dining at bistrots are a generous appetite, a carafe of wine and leisure. these are not the meals that can be hurried. in some places service was a bit of a touch and go nature but by and large i found the waiters to be very helpful. in fact many of them happily helped in translating french to english. this was pleasantly surprising given the recollection of my previous trip to paris. what follows are highlights of our lunch at café des musees and suppers at café constant and le gorille blanc.

cafe des musees
cafe des musees
o’s jug of deer with vanilla pumpkin puree was a sheer delight. he said that it was the kind of entree that is an acquired taste. i believe that if you like red meat with lots of flavour you should have this. the meat was cooked in a rich gravy and had savoury treacle tones. the sweet pumpkin puree cut through the density and richness of the flavours. my thickly carved smoked salmon was outstanding as was a hand-cut steak tartare. the dark edge of a chocolate terrine was softened by puddles of creme anglaise, candied orange peel and a light caramel.

hand cut steak tartare
jug of deer, vanilla pumpkin puree
chocolate terrine
cafe constant 
cafe constant is one of four restaurants run by michelin starred chef christian constant. he started his career at the crillion followed by the ritz. rue saint dominique is home to three out of four of his restaurants earning it the nickname rue constant. cafe constant is a typical parisian bistro with small tables and seats with red leather. the appetiser of salmon cured like herring with boiled potatoes was unusual and excellent. in fact the briny and acetic notes of the marinade worked really well with the oily nature of salmon. i had veal cutlet cooked medium rare with a pink centre and dark edges. i had to assert my territory over the white tarbais beans as o’s fork kept straying into them. for dessert we were recommended the profiteroles. a house speciality they were by far the best profiteroles i have ever eaten. the were composed of a flourish of dark chocolate sauce, delicate choux pastry and ice cream. 

salmon cured like herring
le gorille blanc
o and i stumbled across this rather oddly named bistro on saturday night and it was a lovely find. o had an excellent duck confit and i had the ever comforting beef bourguignon with a side of dauphinoise potatoes. we split an entree of courgettes, onions and figs fragrant with cardamom. it was served cold with plenty of fruity olive oil.

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