Monday, May 11, 2009

La Boulangerie - A Birthday Dinner

I had a dear friend in town in April, and lucky for me, she was here for my birthday. She treated me to a delicious dinner at La Boulangerie. Now, it's not a bakery, rather a petit restaurant in a space that was formerly a bakery. We were recommended this place by some friends, and it was as good as they promised. I liked the space, the typical mirrors, chalkboards (ardoise) with wine offerings, even a list of whiskies - I'll have to go back for those again, and a whole assortment of diners. We enjoyed seeing a table with two families sitting at it, their kids enjoying dishes clearly not off a child's menu. Come to think of it, there was no kiddie menu, but those children enjoyed their steamed salmon or seared veal just the same.

Pictured above was one of our entrées, remember that 'entrée' means entrance, that is the first course not the main course that it somehow was assigned to describe in the US. My dining companion ordered the terrine de lapin as pictured, and it was fantastic. I am always a fan of rabbit, and I predict that will be something I miss when I move away. Rabbit is very common here in France, and to me, somewhere between pork and duck in flavor. It isn't quite as gamy as duck to me, but nice and deep in flavor at the same time. The black line in the terrine was a layer of black olives, and the terrine was served atop some caramelized jus, and was a nice twist on the traditional terrine de lapin. I enjoyed beef carpaccio with a parmesan tuile crisp, on a bed of warm olive oil risotto. The carpaccio seemed to melt in my mouth, complimented only by some sea salt and delicious olive oil. I enjoyed the simplicity of the dish, and it illustrated one of my basic principals and pieces of advice; the simpler the dish, and the fewer ingredients you use, the higher quality they need to be. A dish doesn't need to have that many elements to really impress your palate, often the clarity of the elements speaks louder to me than a complex thirty component dish. But maybe that's me.

For our plats principaux, I had onglet de veau (veal hanger steak), served with an herbed potato cake, and an olive infused jus. My friend had beautiful Scottish salmon with white asparagus and salmon cream. Both dishes were really quite superb. Both the veal and the salmon were nicely cooked, and the accompanying sauces had bold flavors which complemented the mild flavor of the main component. As always, I enjoyed the white asparagus, a real spring treat here in Europe, unfortunately also not cultivated very frequently state side.

Finally for dessert, I just had to order the rhubarb compote with fromage frais mousse, and we ordered the citrus cream and cake with raspberry coulis as well. Both were light, intense and bright in flavor, of course due to the tang from the rhubarb or citrus and raspberries. I adored my dessert, I really am a sucker for rhubarb, reminding me of all the goodies my grandmother used to make. It was always a treat to be at the farm during rhubarb season, my cousin would go gather some fresh rhubarb, and my grandma, sisters, with whomever else was around, and I would whip up some rhubarb pie, rhubarb bars, and well, many other combinations of rhubarb and dough. Back to the dessert at hand though, the rhubarb compote was perfect, cooked down rhubarb with only enough sugar to make it palatable, but still wonderfully tart. The fromage frais mousse was so wonderfully creamy, as in tasting of cream, but light and a beautiful balance to the rhubarb.

The meal was a fantastic birthday treat, really all I can ask for, lovely food, with a lovely friend, and in a lovely city.

La Boulangerie

15 rue des Panoyaux
Paris 75020
metro: Ménilmontant
01 43 58 45 45

1 comment:

  1. damn that photo of the rhubarb compote is gorgeous!