vendredi 27 février 2009

Typically french

I often get asked for restaurant recommendations, very often for typical French restaurants. It often makes me wonder what people have in mind when they say typical French restaurant. Is it one where the menu hasn’t been translated into 8 different languages and only locals can be found? Or one where the service is indifferent at best or really bad at its worst? Or maybe one where they only serve escargot and cheese and baguettes? Okay, I’m joking about the last one. I suppose a typical French restaurant (at least here in Paris) is one where you get a taste of good authentic cooking though not necessarily the most sophisticated cuisine, where service is friendly (yes, French service can be good) and finally,where the bill doesn’t break the wallet. I’m happy to report that I’ve actually found a typical one complete with the red checkered tablecloth thanks to a dinner with friends some time ago.

Au Pied de Fouet (see, even the name is deliciously typically French, I had to look up the word Fouet) is a tiny place in the sixth arrondissement that has dark wooden beams, parquet flooring and a set of stairs leading up to the miniscule mezzanine. All these features date back to its origins as a coaching inn. Reservations are required as they don’t have a lot of space to accommodate people. But if you do arrive and have to wait, they serve a deliciously chilled glass of kir while you wait outside. The food, in keeping with its typicalness, is simple. Mostly it features well chosen meats that are grilled with a number of different sauces. Occasionally the chef will impose his will and say that the meat has to be served medium well as this kind of cooking best serves the meat. I suppose he knows best because everyone was happily satisfied with the dishes brought to our table. Even my extremely well done piece of steak was very good. The accompanying fries were excellent and they can even substitute the fries with a side of greens if you prefer to eat a bit more healthily. Dessert is worth mentioning as they have an actual pâtissier , as our serveuse proudly told us (no Picard frozen desserts here, thank you very much!). And for the first time, we actually had an authoritative distinction between the moelleux au chocolat and the fondant. Contrary to what we previously believed, it’s the moelleux that has the gooey chocolately center while the fondant is much more dense and has a more intense chocolate flavor. In any case, I had a tiramisu and it was delicious. At the end of our meal, we were happy to discover that it was quite quite reasonable. In these uncertain financial times its good to know a restaurant you can go to for a good meal without feeling like you have to tighten your money belt for the rest of the month afterwards.

A view of the mezzanine with its long table..

Luckily for us, there are three locations though its the one in the 6th that I tried..

Au Pied de Fouet
3 rue St. Benoit 75006
01 42 96 59 10

45 rue de Babylone 75007
01 42 96 59 10

96 rue Oberkampf 75011
01 48 06 46 98

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