This past Friday I took the day off from work to deal with administrative issues here. We went to St. Denis to meet with the Paris 8 staff who are going to help us get our cartes de sejour. We wrote about the struggles with the carte de sejours in a previous post and it turns out we don’t deal with the government ourselves–Shannon’s researcher status means that the folks at Paris 8 deal with it for us. More to come when we finally succeed because, after all, this is a restaurant post.
Between the trip to St. Denis and some other errands, we stopped in the 1st arrondissement. I had scoped out a few possible restaurants and we walked by them one by one. The first restaurant I had previously visited in July with my old friend Reid Hoffman. If it hadn’t been the first we stumbled across we probably would have eaten there. After wandering past a few more and deciding they weren’t right for the moment, we decided on Au Dauphin. When we got to the address we couldn’t find it–it appears to have changed hands. Thrown for a loop, we struck out for Au Gourmand on the nearby Rue Molière. This seemed appropriate since Shannon had just seen Tartuffe two nights previously.
Au Gourmand is quite elegant without being fancy. Purple chairs with yellow piping dominate the decor. It is definitely more comfortable than anywhere we’ve eaten so far…it even had table cloths. At 12:30 we were the first patrons but by 1:00 room was buzzing, mostly with French folks.
As usual we chose the menu, this time for 32 euros which was more than we were planning to spend, but after our failure with Au Dauphin we persevered. The meal started with an amuse-bouche, a shot glass of creamy soup (a hint of tripe?) accompanied by a little pastry shell on a spoon stuffed with mushrooms. The soup, especially, was super yummy.
Shannon opted for the escargot, served with mushrooms and a cloud-like poached egg. I was able to steal one bite–it was really good. I chose the tomato medley, which was heavenly. Two small balls of tomato sorbet, a couple of cherry tomatoes, a small bit of goat cheese and three shrimp were all bathed in a chilled tomato soup. It was so good I could have eaten three bowls.
Shannon had the “lieu jaune,” which is pollock. It was prepared with the “last summer squashes” and was very good. I had the lamb, small pieces from the leg served with winter squash and jus. Unfortunately it was overcooked and despite my request for it to be “à point” (medium rare) it was medium-well (I hope I never learn how to say that in French). I would say that after the entrées, the plats were a bit disappointing. At least mine was.
Luckily, desserts reached the heights of the appetizers. I had cheese, the Fourme d’Ambert, which was melted on some pastry dough and topped with mache. It was heavenly, but nothing compared to Shannon’s chocolate. There was a cylindrical chocolate shell filled with chocolate cake and a chocolate ganache. On the side was a scoop of the richest chocolate ice cream you could imagine. Did I mention chocolate? It was transcendent.
Since it was lunchtime we should have only ordered a glass or pichet of wine, but the menu extolled us to order a bottle (you can take home whatever you don’t finish!). So we ordered a nice Pic Saint Loup (coteaux du languedoc) and, of course, finished the bottle. We both loved the wine but Shannon was especially taken with it. Time to find a local purveyor who carries it…
So, all in all, this is a really nice place to have lunch (or dinner I suppose) in a great location, very near the Louvre. I’m willing to forgive my overcooked lamb and recommend it highly.