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Friday, March 25, 2016

Prosper et Fortunée- One Man Show

Prosper et Fortunée's Eric Lévy does it all - takes reservations by phone - and offers a detailed explanation about the restaurant's concept in the process - shops the local markets in the morning, seats customers, cooks the food, serves it, prepares the bill, and takes the payment.  Okay, I lied, he does have an assistant who, like clockwork, shows up just around the time that the 12 customers are finishing up their dessert to unobtrusively begin to clean up the kitchen.   I hesitated writing about my visit with Co. in tow for a late February dinner, because P&F is tough to review.  It's like going to your aunt's house for dinner and watching her slave away in the kitchen preparing dishes in heartfelt earnest to please her loved ones in the next room.  Even if the meal was mediocre, you don't want to hurt her feelings and so you tell her the meat loaf and mashed potatoes were the best you've ever tasted in your life.

The inimitable Monsieur Levy, a one-man band
Or not.  Unlike the nervous, obsequious aunt, Monsieur Levy carries out his evening's work with an air of inspired, workmanlike confidence.  And despite the unavoidable intimacy of P&F, it's not like you are yukking it up with fellow diners in the small one-room-kitchen restaurant-atelier, although I'm sure that happens depending on the dynamic of the evening. I had no compelling interest in talking with anyone but lovely Co. during our visit, albeit discussion with Monsieur Lévy proved the exception.

It took a while after our 8:30 pm arrival before the remaining diners showed up and M. Lévy began slicing and dicing the ingredients so that the several course affair could get rolling.  The preparation and servings were methodical, with each course being served to each diner in turn, seated at a handful of high tables.  If you are in a hurry and in need of a quick dinner, P&F is not the place to be - it was after midnight by the time we paid up and donned our coats.

If it seems like I'm stalling to avoid talking about the food, you are an astute reader.  Bear in mind, I'm stalling about the dishes because in procrastinating, I've forgotten their descriptions.  The ingredients were fresh and tantalizing, okay, satisfied?  Hey, its been a tough month with the world coming apart at the seams, and maybe you can forgive my memory lapses - I can't find my P&F receipt or visitation card, and all I have to rely on are a bunch of blurry photos, including those below (in order of their serving).  By the way, I have finally - FINALLY - purchased a decent camera, and once I figure out how to use it, which hopefully will require less time than it is taking for me to master the French language, you should start seeing some really beautiful, amazing, fantastic food photos at this site.  (Disclaimer - the first three photos above are not mine).

An excellent fish soup to start off the evening

Risotto with a scallop on top

This, I believe, is cabillaud

Co. says thumbs up for the lamb

And for me, the non-eater of lamb, some of the tastiest scallops I've ever eaten

Dessert 1 - not really the apple of my eye, but Co. wasn't complaining

Dessert 2 - much better, and much more interesting than it looks (I vaguely remember mention of almonds and yogurt

When it comes to wine at P&F you take what you're offered from a couple of choices - this Graves did not disappoint, at all

Eschewing end of meal espressos, our bill came to a reasonable €124 for the six-course meal and bottle, certainly reasonable for an unforgettable experience.  I have no great urge to do it again, but a dinner at Prosper et Fortunée is one of those 'you've got to try it once' sorts of deals.

Prosper et Fortunée
50, rue Broca
Paris 5
 Tel: : +33 1 43 37 70 39
Metro: Les Gobelins, Censier - Daubenton
The restaurant sits unobrusively on a quiet Parisian street - one day you will have nostalgia for these blurry images (soon, I hope)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jones - Dem Bones, Dem Jones

Me and the Moose out on the town
again, checking out the latest hotspot - we are so trendy - BUT, really an old hotspot.  What?  Come on, you probably already know that an old Paris Restaurants and BEYOND favorite, Bones, is no longer -BUT, has been transformed by the same team into an all-day cafe in the morning, lunch specials in the afternoon, and amazing tapas in the evening kind of place.  I miss dem Bones, dem Bones, but Jones represents a satisfying alternative, a LOT better than nothing.

Moose and I (if you prefer) hit Jones on a good night - the place wasn't packed and the vibe was mellow and laid back.  Our servers tried their hardest to convince us that the tapas were to be shared, but I would have none of that because that's the kind of guy I am.  Mine, mine, mine.  But I'm not THAT horrible - I did offer Moose an ample sampling of my copious smoked mozzarella focaccia dish, but he politely declined.  Other standouts during our visit included the chinchard dish - a mackerel-like fish prepared almost like a ceviche, the moules au gratin, and the rabbit dish.  Moose still doesn't get the concept of "you're in France, dessert is not an option, it is a requirement,' so it was only yours truly who got to benefit from the exquisite (I love that word) chocolate ganache.  Everything savory, flavorful, fresh, interesting.

We finished up with some after-dinner drinks to wash down the bottle of red, Moose opting for another Agent Provocateur and me following the server's advice to check out a cognac that had just come in and it was epic, and I'm usually not a big cognac drinker.  Stupid me, I forgot the name.  At any rate, I didn't forget to snap the carte, so this is what the reasonably-priced, nicely-sized tapas dishes included during the evening of our visit:

Click to enlarge

Finally, there are two ways to look at the Jones carte de visite - as a witty, retro attempt at humor or as a 'we're too cheap to print up new cards until we use up all the old ones' ploy.  You decide:

B becomes J, sort of.

All told, 6 tapas dishes, a €28 bottle of wine, 2 beers, one cognac, and one espresso came to a total of €106, a pretty good deal if I say so myself.

43 rue Godefroy Cavaignac
Paris 11
tel.: 09 80 75 32 08
website:  http://www.jonescaferestaurant.com/

UPDATE: May 2016

You've already noticed that my previous Jones post lacked incredibly tantalizing photos of the food, so here I am back, with photos in tow, after last Friday evening's dinner.  You know how it is when I get together with the Moose - he distracts me from the business at hand with excessive alcohol consumption and stimulating conversation.  Not that Co. doesn't offer those very same welcome distractions, but, well, I'm really getting off topic here - what do you care about that stuff?  So assuming it's the food that has brought you to this post and not my conversation partners, here are some images from the return visit to Jones, as satisfying as the first, and perhaps more so.

The carte - click it and it becomes readable

All of a sudden green asparagus is everywhere in Paris - this is the dish with the eel sauce and was pretty good.

Keeping with the eel theme - with radishes and beets, another combo that is popping up in Paris, and why not?

This canard dish was really the highlight of the meal - duck in two facons with cherries.

Dessert 1 - fiadon et frais  - just okay

Dessert 2 - the financier, much more to my liking.  Your eyes do not deceive - that is a chipped bowl, reflective of the rather informal personality of the restaurant.

They take bread seriously at Jones, with the servers cutting from various loaves throughout the evening.

The wine - a poor choice recommended by our Kirsten Dunst lookalike waitress.

Co. and I shared these dishes, as the restaurant intends, bringing the total with one espresso at the end to an extremely reasonable 86 euros.  We seriously debated another dish, but what you see above basically did the job for two diners, although another one - the bulots were tempting - wouldn't have broken the bank, or our stomachs.

A wall not too far from Jones.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Paris Restaurants and Beyond - Search, Baby, Search

Back in 2014, the people who manage Google's Blogger web publishing tool, of which PRAB is a part, decided to eliminate what I thought was a really nice user-friendly feature - the ability to link the reviewed restaurants listed in the column on the right to their respective reviews.  That is no longer possible.  It took me long enough, I know, but now all you have to do is use the new feature on the top and search for any restaurant in the list.  There are still a large number of reviewed restaurants that you just have to click on to go to the review, but anything I've published since about mid-2014 is a no-go . . . unless you search.  You know how to search, now you can do it here.

There's the search box, right under the blog name, where it can't be missed.

Distrito Frances - Getting There


You have to hand it to the folks behind this small Mexican venue in Paris 10 on rue Faubourg Saint Marin, just around the corner from the Strasbourg Saint-Denis metro -  they didn't opt for the expected Mexican name to dub their establishment.  Which is probably why I keep forgetting the name until I pull out their card.  At any rate, this is a decent, low-key spot to grab a pretty good Mexican lunch.  I wish I could say more, but no, Distrito Frances does not fully succeed at reinventing the Mexican restaurant in Paris or the traditional taco, as claimed at Paris Bouge.  More original than any other Mexican venue I've eaten at in Paris - which isn't saying much, granted - it fails to satisfy that gaping hole in the Parisian landscape that beckons for a truly great Mexican dining experience - spicy salsas, variety, something like El Atoradero in the Bronx.  Need I say it, Paris ain't the Bronx, so we take what we can get.  And one thing we get at Distrito Frances is a terrific dish called Pollo Popodop (6.50€), which consists of two chicken brochettes - yawn, I know, but wait - these are really good. The chicken is marinated in spiced sugar and coated with a popcorn,cornflakes, fresh mint and coriander mixture, served with a forgettable sauce (I forget what it was) that was not really needed anyway.  Here's my photo - if any camera can make this dish look bad, it is the one I was using:

Pollo Popodop - a lot tastier than they look in this photo.

I followed up this brochette entry with a trio of crusty quinoa vegetarian tacos - the so-called Jose 'Crispy' Smooth dish (10€ for 3; 12€ for 4) - stuffed with avocado, green peppers (where jalapenos were called for), onions, and pickled cabbage - messy, but pretty good, and only messy because I kept slavering on heavy doses of a hardly spicy at all red sauce and limes presented in  small bowls.  Look, I know the French aren't very partial to spicy foods, but the option should be available.  One of the helpful, amiable servers informed me when I was paying that if I was looking for something more authentic, I should try the Bang Bang! pork tacos, cooked in a banana leaf with Yucantan sauce, something you might want to give a shot.  Minus the tortilla chips and drink (I went with wine), this photo from the Paris Bouge site basically shows - in much greater clarity - my lunch:

Try to grab one of the few tables in the cosier back room, with view of the kitchen.  There's also a counter with stools in the front - go alone or with friends for a quick, inexpensive lunch, but also opened for dinner.

Distrito Frances interior

DISTRITO FRANCES  ('Mexican soul food X French touch')

10 rue du Faubourg Sain Martin                                                                                                                75010 Paris                                                                                                                                              Tel: 01 40 37 51 80    Web: http://distritofrances.fr

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