Sunday, June 29, 2008
Confessions du Boeuf
The wood burning fireplace.
Robert et Louise is the reason I'm in Paris.
The steak has been on my mind since February when I made two trips here eating the duck confit and entrecote when I should have eaten the cote du boeuf. Don't get me wrong, they were both great but the true piece de resistance is the cote du boeuf. And this time, I won't miss.
Some of you might be thinking that I'm joking, or just being dramatic when I say that I cam to Paris just for Robert et Louise.
Originally, I had no plan of visiting Paris this trip, but the memory of the beef keep nagging me in the back of my mind to the point where it seemed absurd that I would be in Europe and not made the side trip to Paris. I mean, considering the cost of a separate trip to Paris, a side trip to the City of Lights seemed downright sensible.
And since I hadn't yet visited the Eiffel Tower, now would be my chance.
It's a good thing I checked the Internet for hours of operation because I was originally going to stay in Zagreb until Monday and then fly back to the United States on Tuesday to get home in time to host my annual Fourth of July Party. The problem is: Robert et Louise is closed on Mondays. Merde.
So, if I trim a day off of Croatia and fly to Paris on Sunday afternoon, I could make it to Robert et Louise before their 11pm closing time. It was risky. The timing of flights would have to be perfect. One mistake and the whole Paris trip will have been for nought.
In spite of the God-awful crowds at Zagreb Airport, I just barely made it onto my flight to Frankfurt. The connection to Paris was smooth and by 8pm, I was rushing towards the Gare Est on the B Train from Charles du Gaulle. After checking into my hotel, a quick rinse in the shower and a change of clothes, I was on my way and made it to the restaurant by 10pm. Whew.
Cote du Boeuf for two
The bar area was packed - which meant half the restaurant was jam-packed. Everyone was watching the Euro Cup Finals between Germany and Spain. Luckily, there was a small two top available in the back next to a table of eight. I massaged myself into the chair with a split view of the kitchen, the fireplace and occasional glimpses of the game whenever someone moved their head.
Ordering was simple: I'd been dreaming of the sausage so give me that. No can do, mon cheri. They were out of the sausage, but I should try the boudin noir because it's excellent.
Now, I wasn't too pleased. I really wanted the sausage. I had been dreaming about it. I needed it. And I typically hate boudin noir, or blood sausage. It's too mealy for me. Can't stand it. But these guys were raving about it. Maybe I just have never had real boudin noir.
But it was excellent. Creamy without being mealy with a definite taste of vinegar. Roasted on the fire, it was delicious. Not firm but just right. I really liked it. I didn't want more. But I would order it again.
Salad, sel gris and freshly ground black pepper.
Finally, the beef came and it was huge. And rare. And mean looking. This was beef that was about business. It wasn't fooling around. The large ripples of fat stared menacingly at me, as if taunting me to tear into them.
My only wish for this beef: I wish they used a heavier hand in seasoning. More salt would have worked to pronounce the beef flavor. As such, it was a bit muted resulting in a heaver use of sel gris. But the results aren't the same.
Otherwise, the meat was good. For France.
I hate to say it, but the meat is simply better at home where I can buy incredible quality beef direct from the farmer who raised the cows. American beef is more flavorful than French, but this was still great steak. I'm now just able to discern a difference.
You may be wondering why I decided to order the Cote du Boeuf for two instead of the entrecote for one - am I a glutton or something? Well, maybe.
But seriously, I've had the entrecote. I wanted to see what the Real Deal was all about. There's no way I expected to finish it. In fact, I took the center cut of the ribeye home and tossed it into the fridge for a later meal. Whatever the case, I was done.
I've been learning over the past year that I'm really not a dessert person. Sure, I love a good ice cream, but it's not necessary after a good meal. In fact, I'm starting to prefer skipping the dessert course entirely. Maybe a small order of salty french fries to cleanse the palate, please.
As I was sitting there: digesting, one of the staff came up to me to tell me that they were now closed and would I mind terribly if people started smoking. While I'm against cigarettes personally, I'm even more against draconian laws designed to prohibit adults from making personal choices - smoking being one of them.
Of course, let them smoke. In fact, bring me a cold beer so I can smoke my cigarillos too! I sat there for at least another hour enjoying several Montecristo Havana cigarillos and ice cold Heinekens.
It was a beautiful way to end an evening. Go fuck yourself, California.