Mes braves, mes amis! One is back to the writing slab and it is all down to a serendipitous find in the environs for Paris. It is imperative that I regale you of a wonderful restaurant on the Rive Gauche which is not gauche at all.
It happened perchance as we perambulated around the south bank near the Sorbonne looking for a lunchtime venue before grabbing the Eurostar back to Blighty. We alighted on a restaurant called Alliance which one had identified earlier but on peering through the window, it looked stark and pretentious. Thus we turned tail and pootled around the corner where, glory of glory Itineraire stared at us inconspicuously. The menu called like a siren and we found ourselves ensconced in the modern, attractive surroundings of Itineraire. (we? One was with Fortescue of course…keep up dear readers!)
We received an ever so friendly welcome from ALL the staff who were young, bright and efficient. Certainly it was not like the Parisian welcome of old where the maitre d’ turned up his nose and snubbed you for being a foreigner who didn’t speak the language. Naturellement, your Doctor is fluent in French.
Upon ordering, we were showered with scrummy things to eat. Olives, a pain ecossais (literally Scottish bread) with delicious olive oil. An ever so wonderful cauliflower sliced thinly and sitting in a cauliflower puree. (See one’s daguerreotype above). Another starter which has slipped one’s mind (pardon me). More homemade bread. Then a foie gras starter which looked as if it was designed by Miro himself. All of these were presented by the waiters and waitress in French at which point Fortescue looked puzzled. Without pausing for breath each of the waiting staff switched into English. Uber friendly stuff.
We then had a fish dish which they called “Merlan”. I looked quizzically at the waitress and asked if she new what it was in English. On her return she said what sounded like “whipping fish”. I made a whipping gesture and explained what whipping meant. We laughed and I asked for a retry. Nope, not a clue… I resorted to Google and a found that it was not “whipping” but “whiting”. Aha! Fortescue muttered under his breath “my mother used to feed that fish to the cat”. However the French also eat horsemeat and can make it taste good so we dug in. It was wonderfully cooked, light, tasty and with a fabulous crust on top to give it that extra oomph. Well done chef, and sorry puss, its back to the tinned stuff for you.
The meat course we were told was a cut of beef from the back of the thigh. That didn’t sound promising as one is not a great fan of these French cuts. However, one need not have worried. This chef is a master and it came with a wonderful jus and most importantly some mashed potato (done two ways) which melted in the mouth and was as good as it gets. No doubt it contained half a ton of butter, so there goes the New Year diet again.
We were tempted to a cheese course but then who can resist cheese in France and we has a selection of cheeses which were all unknown to me and yet each was distinctive and delicious? All this was washed down with a robust but not too heavy St. Joseph and a good brandy.
Do you know dear friends, in recent years one has not had the best of luck with restaurants in France but one can say, if you are in Paris just GO and you will not be disappointed… Although it is now assigned the label “privee” and is for Doctor Lunch and chums only. Harrumph!
Finally, what is that last picture up there. You know, the one with “Closed for Innovation”. Well that was just a sign on a closed shop…not the restaurant, they do not need any more innovation as they have it in abundance. Well done M. Sendra and co. I will return as soon as one can.
5 rue de Pontoise, 75005 Paris, France
Tel: +33 146336011