A little bit further out than I usually go, I couldn't wait to try this restaurant; my friends actually went there a few nights prior but I didn't want to go twice in one week and so I waited until Saturday when I had booked a table for 6 (and waited and waited and waited because some people like to get to places late all the time...fail). Why here? Because you pay something like €28 (maybe less?) for an unlimited amount of food. Mind you, this is simple food but prepared competently and deliciously - don't expect plated slabs of foie gas, served alongside an artful drizzle of sauce. Instead expect dishware full of pate de campagne, pate auvergnat, maybe some boudin noir (or so I hear), celeriac remoulade and lot of other traditional-french home-cooked dishes. It's actually a table d'hote where you sit down and serve yourself and clear your own plates between courses. And even cut your own bread as we learned.
After sitting down at a communal table (time to make friends! although we didn't....) you can pick a very-reasonably priced wine from their wall (I love restaurants with wine walls...even more so when they have magnum bottles of wine, not that we got any because apparently a lot of people aren't big wine drinkers; who knew?!) and then start munching away at what is already on the table...
This time around they had 2 types of pate, the celeriac remoulade, beets in vinegar, carrots (the French have an uncanny national obsession with carottes rapees, or, literally, grated carrots), a round tray full of crudites (I eyed that tray down like no other, but alas it would not have fit into my bag because it was huge and because they would notice. and I guess because stealing is bad...need to find something similar) and duck rillettes.
Mmm, rillettes. They remind me of pulled pork but shredded finer and smoothed out with even more fat. Ever since that lunch at Le Bernardin (which isn't all that by the way) I've been a sucker for rilletes (actually, they were salmon rillettes served as the amuse and were my favorite part of the lunch). Here, the duck rillettes were no different and luckily (unluckily?) for me, they were right in front of me. I must've had five or 6 big spoonfulls throughout the evening, spread thickly on their chewy rustic bread. I definitely made a huge dent in that pot.
For me, everything else was underwhelming - the cream of mushroom soup, although definitely flavorful, had the consistency of water rather than a silky puree or veloute (meh, snobbiness from me); the main course, a duck and tripe cassoulet (can I call it a cassoulet? it was stewed with white beans) was alright (no tripe for me!) but the duck was a little tough. I was also expecting a larger selection of cheeses, but they seemed to only have 3-4 types of goat cheese and some bleu, although at this point I really couldn't eat that much else so I didn't mind.
And dessert? Well it was OK - it's mainly my aversion to things where egg-flavors are pronounced like ile flotante and egg-cream custards. They did have a huge variety though - several types of poundcakes, panna cotta, cremes and custards, flan, the aforementioned ile flotante, apple crisp (mmmm, my favorite dessert from that night) and prunes in armagnac. I actually love prunes whether they are dried (the ones from Trader Joe's, with sulfate because the non-sulfate ones aren't moist enough, are ridiculously delicious) or in syrup or, in this case, liquor. And I'm not embarrassed to admit it although some people (ahem, JP) are 12 years old and think its funny when I walk around with a bag of TJs prunes in my hand. And I'll also add that italian/damson plums are one of my favorite fruits to which I look forward to every September.
But, pour some more wine, eat some more rillettes and you'll forget about the dishes that didn't quite make the cut for you. And most importantly, upon paying, you'll be more than surprised at how affordable a good nights dinner was.