Tuesday, January 29, 2008
La Brasserie de l'Ile St-Louis
Strolling across the bridge onto the Isle St-Louis is wonderous sight to behold. The cathedral of Notre Dame in the distance and the revolving beacon from the Eiffel Tower crossing the skyline. How majestic. How nice of these French to build this all for my enjoyment.Merci.
After my visit with Victor at Soluna Cafes, I was feeling a bit over-caffeinated and quite hungry - having not eaten anything since this mornings' baguette and jamon iberico, so I made my way to La Brasserie de l'Ile St-Louis, as recommended by my guidebook: The Little Black Book of Paris.
I've never been one to put too much reliance on travel books but it finally dawned on my why we do. As with anything else, it's not always about finding "the best", it's about avoiding "the worst." With a guidebook recommendation, at least you know that someone else has been there and it must not have been that bad. And with a bewildering array of places to eat, like here in Paris, it really helps to have something help you cut through the noise.
Prior to Soluna Cafes, I came across a restaurant/bar called La Perla that served Mexican fare. Seems that I can always go for some Mexican (and I did need an afternoon snack), and their Enchiladas de Mole sounded tasty, but they weren't serving food until 7pm so that was that.
La Brasserie de l'Ile St-Louis is everything you expect when you think of "classic French brasserie." They've got the old floors, the old tables, the old tin ceilings with years and years of paint, the old everything - even a very huge, antique espresso machine like the one you see in the Tolouse Lautrec paintings. The waiters are old French guys who have been doing this for years and are truly "pros."
The special of the day is the Pave de faux filet du limousin au poive vert with pommes frites maison for twenty euros. I'll take that and and order of the Rosette de Lyon sausage for six euros to start.
I was expecting links, instead I got something that looked like salami. Not that it was bad. It just wasn't what I was expecting. Of course, it did state "Lyon Sausage" and if I actually knew what that meant, I would have known what to expect. Chalk that up to "Jay-Ignorance." Like salami, it was thinly sliced with a sheen of natural oils and a lightly salty flavor. Paired with the sourdough bread and the fiery moutard(mustard), and it was darn good eating - though the cornichon was soft and not crispy the way I prefer.
As the steak was coming, I decided to order a Coke as well. While most civilized people would prefer a wine, after a weekend in Moscow where it was non-stop drinking, I'm shying away from the alcohol this week. Just as well, because I really like Coke. There's something about that fizzy-ness and the sizzle of the phosphoric acid that just clears away fattiness. Coke cuts through most everything and as long as it doesn't have HFCS (like in America) then there's no aftertaste or heaviness on the tongue and coating your mouth. Bring it on, monsieur.
I had read through Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook that French beef and their cutting methodology was different than how we do it in America. I'm starting to see that. The meat was flavorful and tasty but lacked the marble that we see in most American beef. Of course, that could also be the hallmark of this particular cut and I'm waxing with more "Jay-Ignorance," but I did say that I am also a charlatan. Flavorful and beautifully cooked to a delightful medium, it was red throughout. The green pepper sauce was tasty and I started to see how our American "French Fries and Gravy" developed. Any sauce that was left was sopped up with the fries.
Speaking of which, unlike last nights' fries, these were quite good. And real. Real potatoes, blanched and then fried. They even got a bit soggy as they got colder - just the way nature intended.
I thought briefly about dessert, but then I had also read that the best ice cream in Paris was just a block away. Overall, the food was good. I'm starting to see what French food is all about. Last night was a pretty poor representation, but tonights' meal was definitely much better. Maybe it is time to start planning for at least one fancy meal here. It would be a shame not to, oui?
La Brasserie de l'Ile St-Louis
55 quai de Bourbon
4th Arrondissement Paris