TimeOut Paris Eating & Drinking Guide Edition 8 recommended Le Clos des Gourmets for its warm welcome, excellent value and inventive menu. Sounded good to us, so we decided to head over for dinner one weekday night. The voice on the answering machine says they don't accept reservation, but they do, as husband found out the when he tried a second time; it really is a good idea to make an advance booking as the place was filled with customer on the night we visited.
I quite liked the interior of the restaurant because the tables are not as tightly squeezed together as some places can get. The lighting is also warm and flattering so one can relax, yet gratifyingly, it was also bright enough for food photography.
The dinner menu was Euro 35, i.e. extras like foie gras and lobsters obviously comes with 'supplemental charges'. We adhered to the basic offerings which were already quite diverse. My starter of cauliflower veloute was served in the typical fashion of the day- the bowl decorated with slices of smoked herring and crouton bits first placed on the table with a flourish, then the milky frothy soup poured into the bowl from a milk-bottle sized flask (held enough for nearly two bowls of soup). Lovely soup actually, light yet flavourful with the intermittent boost in taste and texture from the smoked fish and croutons. My gripe was that it was served with a table spoon, a tendency I've noticed in other places, why is that? Is it hard to provide a soup spoon for soup, how is it possible to eat anything with such a large spoon? I had to use husband's spoon which was smaller, being meant for scooping into a wide drinking glass which held his starter- layers of braised puy lentils, a poached egg and something frothy. The hearty lentils were just the thing to line his very hungry stomach.
My next course was described clearly as 'pig's head'. Oh, how could I resist thee? The deconstructed head came with lots of tender roasted meaty parts with crackly bits, and perched precariously on one side of the little pile, a side of the piggy's gelatin-cartilaginous ear. Served on a bed of mashed potato that is thankfully not too mushy. A rustic dish distilled to its most essential edible components, and not in the least gory-looking. It was all incredibly tasty, and I would return just for this dish anytime.
Husband's main course was prawn risotto. Yawn. He is missing the huge prawns we were so used to back home, the poor thing.
Like the rest of the menu, the dessert items included innovative offerings such as avocado millefeuille which TimeOur described as 'sublime' so of course we had to try it. The pastry was shatteringly crisp but I was not too enthusiastic about the avocado filling- it was too buttery and not quite sweet or fragrant enough; its inherently bland flavours did not help, the whole confection needed to be eaten with the marmalady sauce that it was served with. My dessert on the other hand, was composed of caramelised fennel, basil leaves and citrus sorbet. The basil and citrus sorbet was not as interesting as I thought it would be, basil in winter seems unnecessarily sharp or maybe that was the quality magnified by the acerbic sorbet, in any case I didn't like it. But I loved the fennel, well I may be a bit biased considering how I like fennel in all its form and have been on a fennel binge these past weeks, here it was cooked to a soft vanilla-ey candylike state yet retained its mildly aniseed taste. It worked so much better with the avocado millefeuille than the orange marmalade sauce, so we shared our desserts in this fashion.
We left the place replete and happy, full of good food and a better part of a bottle of burgundy. Afters, there was a stroll towards the Eiffel Tower and a long circuitous walk around the quiet and tidy streets of this 7th arrondisement neighbourhood.
Le Clos des Gourmets
16 avenue Rapp
T: 01 45 51 75 61