Goat cheese on brioche toast, the dish gives away the fact that this photo was taken when the weather was a lot lot warmer than the current chill we are inundated with. Oscar (6, Rue Chaillot, 75016 Paris Tel : 01 47 20 26 92 - Fax : 01 47 20 27 93) is a small brasserie that we should have discovered earlier because for one, it is a sweet 5 minute walk away from our apartment, two it is already designated with status of "bib gourmand" i.e. tasty and good value, by the Michelin guide, three, it serves good, honest food and four, the service is personable and efficient.
We visited as soon as they reopened after the summer holidays. As husband waited for me, they offered him a newspaper to read. The friendly proprieter took my jacker off and hung it up, then came back quickly with the huge blackboard-menu. The daily set menu is less than 20 euros for 3 courses. Fellow diners were mainly locals- lone men with their papers, cliques of salarypeople and well, us, the office worker having a lunch date with his housewife.
Husband's grilled breast of duck was very delicious, the meat seared and basted with dark jus outside and very juicy and full-flavoured throughout. The dauphinois potatoes were really good too, and I helped him to finish quite a bit of it.
Dessert: Pain perdu, which is what the French call their French toast (hahaha) with vanilla ice cream and creme anglaise. Well that really neutralises the salad effect but definitely worth all the calories, just look at the honey still dripping from the corner of the toast.
Husband had the apple crumble. The French do makes their crumbles ever so elegant don't they?
Speaking of duck, well, this had been a rather bizarre week. See, I bought a weekly metro pass and have been using that to take the buses 84 and 89 almost every day. Strictly speaking one does not have to buy a weekly pass to take the bus but since I had one I thought I may as well travel the public transport more frequently. Bus 84 from the Pantheon near my language school building takes one to, among other places, rue Bonaparte and rue St Germain. Bus 89, on the other hand, though passing the Pantheon, branches off and turns a little south-west to rue Vaugiraud and kind of deposits one near rue de Cherche-Midi.
On Monday I took the 89 because I needed to go to rue Huysman, or thought I did because later on I discovered the venue was actually along Quai D'orsay and I had to fork out 10 euros to take a taxi there in order not to be late for a glorified housewifey event. Before that fiasco happened however, I thought I had time for lunch and because it had started to rain, I ducked into the first promising looking eaterie along my path which turned out to be Le Nemrod. This corner bistro at 51 rue de Cherche-Midi was busy and very crowded. I ordered their confit de canard, something I've been wanting to eat of now that the weather has turned so very frosty. The duck was decent enough but overly salted but the redeeming point was the super-yummy sauteed potatoes that came with the duck, redolent with loads of parsley and a truckload of garlic. Seriously for the following six hours I was exhaling garlic fumes so strong it could melt paint. Damn but those taters were fantastic!
This afternoon, I found myself on the other end of rue de Cherche-Midi again, and radar ever alert, at no 117, I came across Josephine 'Chez Dumonet', a restaurant with voile-screened windows. They have confit de canard maison, and the word 'maison' did me in, I just had to see what their house speciality is. So I pushed down on the door handle, and peeped in, and inside, it was oozing old-fashionedness, down to its zinc bartop, beyond-retro tiles, mirrors, marroon banquettes and lots of woods all hacked with wear and tear but still charming, of course. The light illuminates and flatters. Tables are spaced nicely apart. The screened entrance and front windows helped perpetuate the illusion that we are in the 1930s, the cloudy skies and harried pedestrians outside worlds away. The waiters wear long white aprons and white shirts, and everyone was sweet yet professional. I believe I was their only customer below the age of 40 today.
They gave me a big basket of baguette chunks with a separate dish of cold salted butter, and I was very happy for a while because it is a small thing really but so few restaurants bother with the butter bit and I love me my bread -with-butter very much. And a tiny bowl of gazpacho which is more like a cold sauce of tomatoes with olive oil, like that seriously good sauce they give you at Bellota-Bellota when you sit down and order yourself some unbelievably tasty (and expensive) Iberico ham. Two reasons to love them already. With bread, butter, oil, tomatoes in my stomach and a glass of house red on hand, I settled into my seat and propped my book on the white-linen covered table.
It was a rather long wait for my duck but worth it. The duck was fried to perfection, all crackly skinned and the meat tasting very ducky instead of salty. The garlicky herbed potatoes were unfortunately not as tasty as Le Nemrod's, it would be great it they could both sit down in a neighbourly fashion and trash it out....
Too full for dessert, I ordered coffee, it cost 5 euros and was not great as usual, but wait a minute, it is accompanied by mignardises all of which were very good. Coconutty macaroon with toasty peaks, a tiny financier all rich yet light, fresh-grape enrobed in chocolate, and a nut-crusted lacey cookie. The bill was only slightly higher than that at Le Nemrod, but I was also more pampered and felt ever so relaxed. Le Nemrod did not even bother to give me bread, though other customers got some, also I was packed into my corner table like a piece of sardine. Both are different type of establishments to be sure, but if one is in the neighbourhood and for some reason or other need or desire to eat confit de canard, well it may just pay off to walk a bit further away from the high-traffic Bon Marche vicinity.
P.S: Last week I had houseguests, one of them bought quite a few handbags. This week I was infected with her leather fet*sh, and in a haze of duck induced madness, I fell in love with a "Club 1930" armchair from Le Grenier Anglais (no. 73 rue de Cherche-Midi) and ordered myself one in 'ancienne' leather. Bad girl! Feeling a bit guilty, I sent an sms to husband who is in Hamburg and he was so sweet, he agreed it is a good idea. Everyone get ready now to say, awww....