Qui Plume La Lune - I don’t think Jacky Ribault is capable of putting out a bad dish. Brilliantly creative, superbly executed, our 3-course lunch with before and after tidbits was excellent. One of the amuses was a coddled egg served in the shell with honey at the base, covered with whipped cream seasoned with cider vinegar. Small croquettes were comprised of pigeon and foie gras. The first course was longish triangle shaped batons of salsify slow-cooked in an intense vegetable broth served along with wild mushrooms and the vegetable bouillon with a “hay” sabayon on the side. We were mopping up every drop with our bread. The second dish before dessert was a paleron of beef (flat iron or top blade steak) with some root vegetable purées and a roasted Brussels sprout or two. Desserts (there were two) were a little less interesting, but still very good. Don’t ask if it’s better than Alliance, just try them both.
Omar Dhiab - We had a superb 5-course Thanksgiving Day lunch at Omar Dhiab, despite our continuing reservations — albeit minor — of the dining room itself. This room is at the back of the restaurant, so there are no windows and the ceiling is a bit low. But the décor in soft yellows, golds and tan is quite lovely and seemed to envelop everyone in a cosy environment. Last year we chose the 3-course lunch which we enjoyed, so this year we chose the 5-course menu, because if we were at home we would certainly be over-eating and over-drinking. Indeed, I recklessly drank two glasses of wine. The 5-course menu was very generous: the count did not include the amuses as some menus do, but did include two entrées, two main plats and one dessert. I should add that before we decided which menu to have we had a carte in front of us which showed a choice of two entrées, two plats and two desserts. If you do a 3-course lunch you get to choose one item from each category. In summary, we started with a millefeuille-like stack of fresh and cooked mushroom slices alternating with foie gras and some bits of smoked eel. The second entrée was a poached oyster (just warmed through) with a thick foamy sauce of “brioche toastée”. The first main was a tender fillet of sole garnished with cooked celery root rounds with small coques on top, and a celery and lovage emulsion sauce; the second main was canette (female duck) with a purée of tagète (marigold), couscous with apricot, and a spicy apricot condiment; dessert was a pair of small delectable mocha cakes with a light coffee mousse, passionfruit sauce and light coffee ice cream on the side.
Datil - Manon Fleury, chef-owner at Datil and former chef of Mermoz and Le Perchoir de Menilmontant, is a bit of a sensation in the Paris food world. She has shown how sustainable, local, and ethically sourced food can be delicious. We chose the 4-course lunch for 65€ (dinner with 7-courses is 120€). Some dishes were innovative and nuanced in their fresh flavors and aromas. The bread from Ten Belles served with a sunflower seed spread was about the best I’ve tasted on this trip. We started the lunch with four items: a tuile of polenta mixed with herbs and flower petals, an infusion of butternut squash and rosemary, a flan of squash and chestnut and a beignet of spaghetti squash - all quite good; next was a small plate of scallops marinated in citrus with colorful red kiwi (with yellow flesh) and cooked turnip which tasted out of balance and odd with the dish; the third course was cooked onions stuffed with squash brunoise and aromatics which was nothing special; and dessert was a poached pear with a pear juice reduction which was downright bland, accompanied by a tiny scoop of quite good pear ice cream and caramel sauce. Finally, as a second dessert we were served a poached prune with some of the poaching liquid along with a gaufrette cracker with prune jam and a rather insipid prune “infusion”. After these four courses we concluded that although we liked some of the dishes, there was no wow factor, except in the concept of the restaurant. We also thought it was overpriced, especially after we realized we were charged 3€ for each bottle of a carafe d’eau. But, if you must go, you can check out the restaurant and Manon Fleury herself on Instagram and see what new dishes are appearing among the courses. That’s what I would do first before returning, but I wouldn’t rush back. It might be a nice lunch if you’re looking for a calm atmosphere, as well as gentle, respectful food on a day when you might have a larger dinner planned - unless you eat several pieces of that delicious bread as I did. In short, the concept of the restaurant is admirable but not unique, and the food is not compelling.
Aux Crus de Bourgogne - I had envisaged a clear, busy Saturday afternoon walking along rue Montorgueil among the bustling crowds, the food shops and stands, then peeling off on a side street to have lunch at a classic traditional-looking bistrot. Luck was with us because that’s exactly what happened. I already knew I wanted to share some foie gras as an entrée and then have the quenelles Nantua. R was ready for a steak and chose the chateaubriand with a side of fries. The quenelles were much better than I expected and the side of mâche was refreshing. (I wish the restaurants in Paris would bring back green salads). Service was friendly and attentive and by the time we left every table was filled and people were waiting at the door. While the food is only a B+, it’s a great atmosphere. And unlike Aux Bons Crus where the food is perhaps better, it’s not as kitchy looking.
A Léa - We returned to A Léa for Sunday lunch with onz (who has visited more frequently) and had a quite good lunch. Looking back at last year’s lunch, this year’s may not have been quite as good, but the difference was simply that last year’s menu was more appealing to me personally. In all other respects the lunch was great, with every table at the restaurant filled with happy diners. To start us off onz picked out a nice Chablis. Then from the restaurant’s Sunday lunch menu, onz and I chose a carpaccio of daurade, paired perfectly with clementines, pistachios and a citrus vinaigrette. R went with the oeuf parfait made with a small-cubes-of-potato risotto and black truffles. Both dishes were very good. Then the three of us chose the Saint-Jacques for a main dish. The scallops were beautifully seared and served with two sauces, one from the orange muscle that surrounds the scallop in the shell. Another more piquant with cider and citron noir, often called black lime or Persian lime. R and I shared a wonderfully decadent dessert of brioche perdue (brioche French toast) with a beurre salé caramel sauce. Our lunch was a great way to spend a lovely, if freezing cold, Sunday afternoon.
Auberge Nicolas Flamel - We had no intention of returning to Auberge Nicolas Flamel on this trip after a soulless visit two year ago, notwithstanding that the meal itself was excellent. But our landlord invited us to lunch and asked us to meet him and his wife here. So off we went. We were seated on the première étage where it was quiet enough for a delightful lunch between two Parisians and two Californians, none of whom spoke the others language very well. But it worked and we had lots of laughs, especially with the very amusing server who didn’t mind having his English pronunciation corrected, and we loved it when he corrected ours. The menu is considerably scaled back from two years ago with none of the lobster, lentils à la vanille, veal tartare and caramelized marrow appearing on the menu. However, the 3-course menu is still a bit pricey at 68€ (you choose from two dishes in each category). I would say each course was good, but not especially inspiring, except for a perfectly executed turbot dish with a delicious beurre noisette-champagne sauce laced with salmon roe. After some sleuthing online I discovered that the former chef (Gregory Garimbay) left Auberge Nicolas Flamel on November 10.
Granite - Last year we had an excellent 3-course lunch and a 5-course dinner at Granite. This year, if anything, our 3-course lunch was even better. What really made it sing were the incredible lightness and balanced flavors of the sauces: one a light celery and cream infusion for a small quenelle; one a “satay” sabayon with a hint of peanut and red curry for the endive entrée; and one a lovage and chicken stock or fumet for the lotte (monkfish) main course. The fig/black cardamom/verveine dessert was perfect. I had a nice glass of Vouvray to accompany the meal. Our server was friendly, with that quintessential wry French sense of humor. In the past year I’ve heard some grumbling about the wine service at Granite or about being seated in the sous-sol and feeing ignored, but I really cannot comment on that. However, when making a reservation it might be a good idea to ask to be seated “au rez-de-chaussée”.