3 Rue Saint Augustin (2)
Our last night in Paris on a recent 2 week visit. Tired, stuffed, but we must eat dinner. We’ll try an unknown name recommended by American/Paris acquaintances who say it is one of their favorites. A home run.
A larger room, but spare and dressed down. As many as 60 seats, with decent space between them, plus a small outdoor terrace in the 2nd near The Bourse and Palais Royale. Working in a busy open kitchen, what appears to be a real chef of some age (and experience) assisted by 3 hardworking assistants. On the floor, several young, but proper waiters overseen by an even younger maître d’.
This is in no way a fancy restaurant, nor is it trying to be. But neither is it the standard 4 choice formula for 35€, so ubiquitous in Paris (and in this Diary), invariably manned by young people, some gifted, many promising, but necessarily of limited experience. This chef has been around and he is a pro. It is reflected in the menu, on the specials blackboard and, most importantly, in the food. It is fresh, unusual, carefully sourced and served with garnishes and accompaniments of startling complexity given the relative modesty of the surroundings and the prices – and in very large portions. You will not leave hungry.
On the 36€ prix fixe, two entrees, one hot, one cold. House smoked salmon served in 3 thick slices served with sorrel cream, mussels served out of the shell in a rich nage bouillon. A thick slice of chicken liver pate served with fresh toast, cornichons, caramelized onions and celery root remoulade, and a Breton crepe (gallette) “sandwich” of beets and warm meat.
For mains, sweetbreads (a special, at 10€ premium) served with just cooked potato puffs and roasted merlu with peas and fava beans.
For dessert an apricot tart and raspberries in pastry cream served between wafers.
Together, the meal was imagined and executed at a level far above our expectations. Between the menu and the specials, at least six other choices for entrees and plats.
Kind. Earnest. Casual.
Reasonable. Regular 3 course formula menu at dinner, 29€. With 2 entrees 36€. Wines across a range. Our Chinon, 34€. For 2, 121€. In quality, surprise and value, hard to duplicate.