Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dialing up the dinner action

I’ve been chagrined on more than one occasion when someone is visiting from out of town, and I don’t have a fantastic dinner reservation lined up. I can honestly chalk it up to being new and not knowing the scene, and also working so much that researching restaurants and calling for reservations always gets bumped on my to-do list. And it’s especially easy put this off because I have to write out the whole imagined conversation in French before I can attempt the actual stuttering conversation on the phone.

But no matter. I love food. I love a good restaurant scene. And I’m going to start documenting the restaurants where I’ve been and restaurants where I want to go to. Starting with this past week since it was a good eating week.

Willi’s Wine Bar: 13 rue des Petits-Champs, 1eme

Went with: Tanz on a Monday night
Had: Sweet caramelized apple and onion tart with greens, pine nuts and raisins; wonderfully fresh grilled cod with peas and mashed potatoes. And a bite of Tanya’s cherry tomato and brebis tart, which was out of this world.
Impressions: Cute spot; lots of Anglophones; huge wine list (duh); weak service; a titch pricey; outstanding food. Go for a beautiful, relaxed meal.

Le Bouledogue: 20 rue Rambuteau, 4eme

Went with: Tanz on a Sunday night
Had: Rosé, tomato and mozzarella salad, grilled sea bass—a huge portion—with some ridiculously delicious medley of tomatoes, onions and fennel. Neither of us could get enough of it. Or the uber thick frites, which Tanya anointed the best fries of ’09.
Impressions: Non-descript interior except bulldogs galore (could benefit from lower lighting); sweet servers; solid food. Good option for the neighborhood.

Chéri Bibi, 15 rue Andre-del-Sarte, 18eme
Went with: Michael on a Friday night
Had: Tomatoes and mozzarella—the largest hunk of mozzarella I’ve ever been served, in fact; a raw salmon steak with sesame seeds, pineapple and a side of fries.
Impressions: A locals’ spot; cool crowd; gorgeous waitresses; arty but simple vibe; a little chaotic; solid food. Fun people watching and cool vibe would bring me back before the food.

Chez Paul: 13 rue de Charonne, 11eme
Went with: Jeff and Anna on a Wednesday night
Had: Leeks in vinaigrette; roasted salmon and fries; a ginornous slice of tart tatin; lots of wine.
Impressions: Great neighborhood bistro: good mix of people; staff has character; space has charm; the food is good, not great. A fun place to linger over dinner, but not a culinary dream.

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