Monday, June 30, 2008

Choosing Poorly at Chez Pierrot

After my lovely cigar on the Solarium, I decided that it was time for some grub. I had spent the entire day running around the city and just wasn't up for another excursion - especially when there's a restaurant down the street that makes great meals.

Actually, I thought for a few moments about trying the Korean BBQ joint across the street but then realized what tomfoolery that would have been. When in France, eat French.

Since I had been to Chez Pierrot before, I knew what to expect: wonderfully home style cooked food without pretense. I arrived around 10pm and was the only person in the house. It wasn't necessarily an off night since half the tables were full about an hour ago when I passed by while walking around the neighborhood.

Mushroom Soup amuse bouche

My last dinner in Paris and the pressure was on to choose the right items for a most memorable meal. The last time I was here the Blanquette du Veau and onion soup were most so delicious. As the lady came I asked her for a recommendation. Straight away she recommended the duck confit but for some reason, I asked for a second recommendation. The second recommendation was the filet of beef. I stalled again which led her to believe that I didn't want the duck.

The truth is, I wasn't sure what I wanted. I just wanted to make the right choice. But after non-stop meals of steak, perhaps the filet would be overkill.

Soupe a l'oignon gratinee et ses croutons. 9.70€

Things started out with an amuse bouche of mushroom soup. Light, flavorful, delicate and a nice way to start off the meal.

The onion soup arrived next and was blazing hot. The biggest problem with onion soup is the temperature. It needs to be served blazing hot but then you have to wait awhile or risk burning the roof of your mouth. I choose to risk the burns - and lost.

The soup was good. Carmelized onions, red wine, baguettes and cheese. It was good but different than the last time. In February, Chez Pierrot made the best onion soup I had ever tasted, with just the perfect amount of cheese. It was robust in flavor and delicious. This time is was good, just not as good as the last time.

Tres tendre filet de boeuf et son foie gras sur toast, accompagne de pommes sautees et haricots verts.24.90€

Finally, the main course arrived: the filet of beef. It was beautifully done. Cooked au point, it could have used a little more salt but it looked wonderful - and the slice of foie gras on toasted baguette: sexy. Potatoes were expertly done and the beans still had a nice snap to them. The plate was executed beautifully.

My problem was that I was indeed suffering from beef overload.

Meal after meal of beef, and this last one was just too much. I was craving variety. Yet I gave my body more of the same. I should have ordered the duck.


In the end, the meal was good. Perhaps not as revelatory as my last visit, but still very solid and delicious cooking. I just made the wrong choices for my palate that night. Reviewing the menu later, there's a couple of items I wish I could have tried, like: Beef Bourguignon or the Mixed Grill, or the Fricasee de St. Jacques - that would have been nice.

Oh well, c'est la vie. Until next time!

Chez Pierrot
9 rue Amelie
75007 Paris
01 45 51 50 08

Le Relais de Venise

During my last (and first) visit to Paris in February, I was unable to eat a proper Steak Frites. Sure, I went to Le Recrutement (terrible) and Brasserie d'Ile Saint Louis (not bad) but neither were truly memorable in a positive way, leaving me wanting for the definitive Steak Frites Experience.

Since I'm handicapped on my knowledge of Paris, I turned to more knowledgeable resources, namely Mark Bittman's article in the New York Times naming the Top Five Steak Frites in the city, for guidance. After researching the locations, I chose the one most readily accessible.

Across from the Palais d'Congress and up the stairs from the Porte Maillot Metro station is Le Relais de Venise. The weather was cool but sunny enough to enjoy an outdoor table.

First things first, where's the bathroom? Inside and up a very narrow staircase to the second level dining room and into the back across from the staff locker room are the two customer rest rooms. Typical European with individual stall/rooms.

Romaine Salad with chopped walnuts and horseradish vinaigrette.

Returning from my sojourn, I sat at my table and was queried as to my beverage preference. A red wine would be nice and off my waitress went to do something or other. A menu perhaps? Truth be told, I would never see a menu that day.

Evidently, menus are not necessary here as the choice is simple: steak and frites. Le Menu starting with a simple romaine salad with chopped walnuts and horseradish vinaigrette, along with some water and a bottle of Chateau Le Videau Cotes de Bourg. Perhaps not the Chateau La Tour, but not bad either.

Chateau Le Videau Cotes de Bourg

Not long after my drinking began did the steak arrive. A relatively small serving of perfectly au point meat slices covered in an herb butter sauce and a half plate of fries. The steak was beautifully cooked and had decent flavor and while the fries were freshly made, I found them to be a bit thin and slightly soft - as though it just wasn't cooked long enough to crisp.

To be honest, they were pretty good but my preference for thicker and crisper fries makes it tough on any frites.

Le Steak - Round One

When my steak first arrived, I thought the portion was a bit meager. That changed as I consumed the contents of my plate. When nearly done, I realized that the portion was pretty decent and probably just right with dessert. I wasn't expecting another helping of steak frites.

Making her rounds with silver platter in hand was our waitress. With platter in one hand and tongs in the other, she was ready to stamp out any remnants of hunger that her patrons may harbor. In a flash, a complete second serving of steak and frites appeared on my plate. Voila!

Le Steak - Round Two

If round one left me slightly wanting, round two was too much. However, by this point, I had drank so much wine on an empty stomach that it really didn't matter: I was inebriated. My judgment was hindered. The world was a funny place. I ended up calling The Bob in Hawaii to see what was going on and compare notes on recent females, as well as make plans for my visit to Honolulu next month. Good thing I was sitting because I probably couldn't walk very straight.

By time dessert came, I couldn't remember much about it much less eat any of it. But I think I had a profiterole.

After a few minutes recuperation and paying my bill, I headed back onto the wild streets of Paris with a skip in my step and slight blurriness in my vision.

Le Profiterole.

Le Relais de Venise
271 Bd. Pereire
75017 Paris
01 45 74 27 97