Thursday, November 11, 2010

Le Bistrot Paul Bert

Oh Mr. Bert, I had heard such great things about you. Were you sick this evening? Was something wrong? You seemed so...down and soooo not up to the praises sung upon you by former diners. Granted, as usual, I mistranslated (only a little) your menu but really, not warning us that the rabbit wasn't really rabbit and was drenched in a sauce made with sang? And underwhelming so much on the tete de veau that as we watched other dinners try it, their mouths puckered and eyes narrowed in disappointment? And cooking your volaille to the point of such dryness that no meat could be found on the bones? Even if you were having an off-day, I don't think I want to cross paths with you again. Ever. It just wasn't worth it.

To start, an under-seasoned and all too cold multi-colored beet salad with arugula and hazelnuts, dressed with olive oil, then the disappointing carpaccio of tete de veau (exactly what you think it is and bad enough that you're eating it already) with an anchovy vinaigrette and capers, and lastly some pan fried squid rings (I was so happy I knew what the word encornets meant and the French couple next to us didn't) that to me seemed a bit too chewy.

The misunderstood lievre a la royale with celeriac puree came next. Why misunderstood? Well my conversation with the waiter went something like this:

Me: Qu'est ce que c'est, le lievre? (What is this lievre thing?)
Waiter: C'est comme un lapin (It's like rabbit)
Me: Mom, it's rabbit
Mom: Oh yes sure I'll have rabbit
Waiter: Mais il y a un gout tres....fort (But it is very...strong tasting)
Me: Mom, its gamey
Mom: Thats fine, I like rabbit. Rabbit is gamey

You wanna know what that is? It's rabbit (well hare actually) marinaded with a bunch of stuff and wine, then all of it (minus the bones) ground with pork and bacon and foie gras and truffles and mushrooms and shallots and other spices and aromatics. Sounds ok, right? Well the sauce is the marinade, reduced, with a final addition of foie gras and the animal's blood which was reserved when the cooking process started. So it was a wine-rabbit blood sauce...apparently that's what the waiter meant by strong. Would have been nice if we had understood each other but hey, a la royale means fit for kings!

My pave de veau aux trompettes de la mort, was a huge chunk of meal and was fairly palatable actually but my aunt's pheasant with sauteed green cabbage with bacon was a dry affair and somewhat amusing seeing her pick up the little legs and wings to attempt (and ultimately fail) to get some kind of meat off them.

The Paris-Breast was the best choice by far, with a thick hazelnut praline that had a long finish on the tongue. It was surprisingly less sweet than the chestnut macaron my aunt ordered.

My dessert, the baba au rhum au savarin was essentially a cake donut with whipped cream in the center hole, all drenched in the cheap-tasting rum that I highly dislike. But props for putting a whole bottle of rum on the table in case I wanted to get completely hammered off a dessert. Which I didn't.

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