Aiko Sushi: 96 Rue Pierre Demours 75017 Paris

Services: Restaurant, Catering, and Delivery

AiKo is a trendy looking Japanese restaurant not far from our apartment which we just recently came across for the first time.  At first, we weren’t sure if it was really Kosher since the menu had items like “Sandwiche Milanais” which is a panini with breaded chicken, tomato sauce, and Mozzarella cheese” and “Cheezy Hot Dog”, a sausage with fried onions and cheddar cheese.  There are several restaurants in Paris that market themselves as Kosher because they serve Kosher meat, however, they also serve cheese and wouldn’t be considered Kosher by Glatt Kosher standards.  We noticed that Aiko is actually under the supervision of the Beit Din of Paris (the hashkacha that all Kosher Restaurants in Paris are under) and discovered that they use mock cheese in these kinds of dishes.

To preface this post, I regret to inform you that for the first time, I forgot to take pictures of my food at dinner!  It may have had to do with the fact that I was so hungry and rushed to eat my meal without pausing to take out the camera.  I was so upset afterwards, since part of the credibility of my reviews incorporates photos of the food that I describe.  I will make it my duty to eat here again soon so that I can add more photos to this post 😉

The restaurant has a chic and trendy interior, and almost feels like a lounge.  As is typical of most Kosher restaurants in Paris, the space at AiKo is very small at the tables are so close together that you could eavesdrop on your neighbor’s entire conversation.  Since Josh and I don’t understand French well enough to do so, we stare at our neighbors’ dishes instead and remark on how the food looks to each other.  I try to peak over discreetly but Josh usually checks out the food very obviously.

We started with a bowl of edamame (6 euro) and a bowl of Pad Thai (6 euro) to share.  It’s a good thing that we got both, since they were each individual sized portions.  We were very excited when we saw the pad thai on the menu, since it happens to be a favorite food for both of us and very difficult to find Kosher, or even at all in Paris.  The edamame was good (it’s kind of hard to mess up edamame) but the pad thai tasted like cucumber salad flavored pasta.  The dish consisted of thin rice noodles and then strips of cucumbers.  This pad thai was very bland and unlike a typical pad thai, which is prepared with a ton of oil, bursts with a sodium enriched flavor, and is often served with fried egg, peanuts, bean sprouts and other Asian veggies.  We agreed that we would not order the pad thai on our next visit.

Next, Josh ordered the Saumon Spicy Kabir (14 euro)- a plate of sliced pieces of salmon in a citrus soy sauce and served with white rice and ironically, another side of that cucumbery pad thai!  The salmon was really deliciously flavored and smooth like butter- one of the best I have tasted at a Kosher restaurant in Paris.  When Josh was too full to finish it, I more than gladly volunteered to scarf down the remainder.   Salmon must be their specialty because almost everyone sitting near us ordered the “Saumon Aiko” (13 euro), which is basically the same as what Josh ordered but with a soy caramel sauce instead- I told you we always notice what everyone sitting in our periphery orders!

Attempted photo of 2 crunchy rolls that I took when I realized that I forgot to take photos of my food

I was thrilled to discover that the menu had crunchy rolls- sushi rolls with a fried coating on the outside.   Many of the Kosher sushi restaurants in the US have all kinds of fried or tempura crusted sushi rolls, but it is more difficult to find in Paris.  There is a large variety of different kinds of sushi including rolls wrapped with avocado, salmon, and tuna.  I ordered two sushi rolls, the “Crunchy Spicy Poulet” roll (6 euro) – a fried and coated roll with chicken and a spicy mayo, and the “Poulet Teriyaki”(5.5 euro) – a regular white rice and seaweed roll with chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce.  The chicken in the latter was extremely dry and chewy, and I could barely taste the teriyaki sauce.  I doused it in the sweet soy sauce that was on the table to add flavor to the blandness.  The crunchy roll was better because the abundance of mayonaise made the chicken more moist.  The mayo was very spicy and needed to be generously dipped in the sweet soy sauce to mitigate the bite.

Attempted photo of 2 chicken teriyaki rolls that I took when I realized that I forgot to take photos of my food

I don’t think I would order the sushi again next time, but I would definitely come back and try one of the other interesting dishes on the menu like Sandwich Milanais (sounds like a parve chicken parm!) or the Salad Chinois (I’ve never met a salad chinoise at a Kosher restaurant in Paris that I didn’t like).  Our dining experience actually concluded very pleasantly because on our way out, the owner or manager (unclear as to which one) heard us speaking English and asked us how our meal was in English.  We retorted with positive reviews and struck up an amicable conversation with him.  He was very friendly and told us that he looks forward to seeing us next time.  We are unaccustomed to restaurant owners going out of their way to be friendly to us in Paris, so he definitely added brownie points to our experience at AiKo Restaurant!

Posted in $$, 3 Stars, 4 Stars, Arrondissement 17, Asian, Delivery, Japanese, Meat, Sushi, Take-Out, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

La Fille Du Boucher: 20 Rue Cardinet 75017 Paris


Tonight was my family’s last night in Paris with me and Josh.  We were going to go to Yayin for dinner, but when we arrived at 8pm, it was completely empty.  We decided to eat at La Fille du Boucher down the block since it appeared to have a more lively ambiance.  Josh and I tried going there once at around 9:30pm when it first opened about 3 months ago, but the wait was over a half an hour so we decided to take a raincheck.

This is the new restaurant that all of the French Jews are talking about these days.  The interior looks like a very nice French Brasserie.  The restaurant colors, tables, and chairs resemble those in a classic French brasserie, and there is a long bar with stools in the center of the entrance to the restaurant.  I have heard mixed ratings from people we have met who ate here ranging from “the best beef I have ever tasted” to “the worst steak of I ever had.”  Despite the opposing slew of reviews, La Fille du Boucher seems to be the new hot spot in this area of town.

Escalope Poulet Grille

Since my American family is accustomed to eating earlier, we did not have a wait at all when we arrived at 8pm.  We were immediately waited on by our charming, young, and good looking waiter.  His English was almost fluent and he was extremely attentive in comparison to the service in Paris Kosher restaurants that I am accustomed to (“excuse moi?! excuse moi?!).  Normally, I feel like I have to chase after the servers to get their attention.  He even respectfully bowed after he took our orders.

My family are not big wine drinkers like Josh and I are now, but on the occasion of our final night together in Paris, everyone ordered a glass of wine and toasted.  Glasses of wine were between 4.50 and 5.50 euros.  We skipped over the entree section since none of the entrees looked particularly appetizing to our foie gras resistant and chicken loving group.

Escalope Poulet Panee (Fried Chicken Fillet)

I ordered the fried chicken fillet with a side of frites and salad(17 euro) and my mom and sister ordered the grilled chicken fillet with a side of frites and salad (17 euro each).   My chicken fillet was perfectly crispy and the cutlet was extremely thin, the way I like it.  However, the flavor was extremely dull and not well seasoned.   I asked waiter to bring me a side of honey mustard sauce from the Salad Chinoise (an item on the menu of every French meat restaurant which I frequently order because the sauce is always just soo good).  I poured it all over the chicken to give it some flavor.  Once I had the taste of the sauce to supplement the crispy and juicy texture of the fillet, the dish was significantly improved.  My mom and sister both expressed thinking the grilled chicken was extremely boring.  It did not taste like it was marinated in anything.  My very food snob husband exclaimed “it looks nasty, like it was made right on a George Forman Grill!”

Dad's Cote de Boeuf with Pasta

As has been the theme of dinners together on this trip, the women in my family order chicken and the men order steak.  My dad ordered  the Cote de Boeuf (22 euro) with spaghetti and marinara sauce.  He said that his steak was fine.  He wasn’t raving about it, but he doesn’t get nearly as passionate and or critical about food as Josh or myself do.

Josh's Pave au Poivre (he strongly recommends that you NOT order this)

Josh ordered the Pave au Poivre- steak with pepper sauce (20 euro) with frites.  He wanted to find out for himself if the steak here was the best kosher steak in Paris as so many of the French Jews we had spoken with over the weeks had exclaimed.  He will tell you that his steak tonight at La Fille du Boucher was one of the worst steaks he has ever had in Paris (I think the only other steak that beat this one on Josh’s nasty steaks scale was his steak at Deloren Cafe).   He thought that they overcooked the meat and that it didn’t taste like anything.  The pepper sauce served on the side for dipping actually just tasted like strong black pepper liquid.  I have tasted a few versions of pepper sauces at other restaurants, since Josh frequently orders the pave au poivre at French meat Kosher restaurants (more emphasis on THEY ALL HAVE THE SAME MENU).  This was by far the least interesting tasting sauce of them all.  He was so passionately disappointed in his dish that despite how hungry he was, he did not finish the steak.  No one especially liked the frites either, as they were kind of dry and flavorless, and needed a ton of salt to bring out some flavor.  the winning keyword of the meal this evening seems to be “flavorless.”

Nougat Ice Cream

Everyone craved dessert, but none of the dessert choices on the menu seemed at all appealing to a majority of the party.  The desserts options included parve sorbet, fruit salad, chocolate mousse, and nougat ice cream (also on the dessert menu of every typical French meat restaurant).  It was a bit bizzare that there was not a single cake option on the menu.  The only option that sounded intriguing to me was something called “du Pane sucre de la butcher- the sweet bread of the butcher,” but the waiter reported that they were not serving it tonight.  Ultimately, my dad ordered the nougat ice cream for himself (7 euro) and we all had a nibble.  It tasted like a very creamy and overly sweet mixture of parve ice cream and parve whipped cream and the raspberry drizzle had a gross cough syrup-like aftertaste.  Definitely not my first choice of desserts, but my  very easy to please father enjoyed it.

In conclusion, I would give La Fille du Boucher a thumbs up for overall excellent service (better service than 95% of the Kosher restaurants I have been to), an energetic environment, and a nice place to sit.  Ultimately however, their food is very bland and nothing to write home about!  It’s funny how a restaurant can become the local hot spot and acquire a strong reputation simply by word of mouth in a large Jewish community of Sephardic Jews!

By the time we finished our meal at 9:30, the servers couldn’t wait to clear our plates and turn over our table for the next party in the line of customers waiting outside.  When we left, the restaurant was packed with groups of rambunctious people and there was a wait of at least a half an hour lined outside the door.

Posted in $$$, 3 Stars, Arrondissement 17, French, Meat, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Paris Kosher Restaurants in August

The following is a disclaimer:  For all restaurant advice that I have given to readers during the month of August, please be aware that businesses throughout Paris partly shut down for a few weeks in August.  Business owners close up shop for their annual vacations.  Please call any restaurants that I have recommended to check that they are open beforehand.  I myself have been disappointed to discover a great deal of restaurants closed during August that I wanted to introduce to my visiting family.  Good luck and there’s always Paris Palate in the winter, spring, and fall months!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

EXKI: 82, Blvd Montparnasse 75014 Paris, CDG and Orly Airports (see website for other locations in Paris)

Exki, BLVD Montparnasse

Exki is another restaurant that is not Kosher but that carries a great deal of vegetarian and organic options.  I frequently ate lunch at the restaurant on Boulevard Montparnasse is the 14th arrondissement while I was studying French language nearby at the Sorbonne for during my first 3 months living in Paris.  Discovering Exki was another breath of fresh air, much like my experience discovering Paradis du Fruit

Exki resembles a what I would imagine as a West Coast lunch cafe for its modern decor and crisp presentation.  It is a self serve eatery, which happens to be a novel concept for French restaurants.   In the vast majority of French restaurants, one is seated at a table, waited on by a server, and takes his time eating at a slow pace.  Exki gets most crowed during the lunch hours (between 12-2 usually).  People leave their offices to grab a quick lunch, pay a la carte at the register, and either take their lunch to go or sit down at a table of choice.  The “to go” concept is also only recently being introduced to restaurants in Paris.   I would often stop at Exki before class to get a coffee to go (actually in a to go cup! yay!).  Lucky for me, there is a Starbucks right next door to the Exki on Blvd Montparnasse, so I was able to switch off between the two- those were the days!

One of my favorite things about the restaurant is the layout and presentation of the food.  When you walk in, along the wall on the right is a refigerator section with packaged sandwhiches, wraps, salads, yogurts, desserts and drinks.   Some examples of salads are quinoa, lentil, caprese, taboule, carrot, and of course classic green salad.  The salads come in fairly small containers so customers normally take a variety of dishes for lunch.  I find that most Parisians take several savory mains (for example a salad and a piece of quiche/wrap) as well as a dessert (a yogurt or piece of cake).

My favorite dessert is a yogurt parfait of sorts.  It is a cup of plain yogurt topped with raspberries, fruit compote, granola, and honey.  They also have a make your own (sour) yogurt station (such that you would find at a hotel breakfast buffet), where one can fill a bowl with yogurt, pinnapples, strawberries, etc.  Their cups of chocolate mousse and verrine (almost a mixture of vanilla flavored pudding and mouse) are very popular.  They even have mini gluten free brownies at the register!!  As you know by now from reading my blog, anything GF is almost impossible to come by at a restaurant in Paris.

The lattes are good and customers can choose to add a flavored syrup (vanilla, caramel, hazelnut) to their drinks.  As is typical of hot drinks at restaurants in Paris, the cups are very small and never filled to the top.  The only place that actually fills the cup all the way to the top is Starbucks.  Contrary to their healthy bio slogan, they don’t offer skim milk either.  Thus, the lattes are very creamy and thick and the espresso is not strong at all.  The first time I drank a latte at Exki, I felt kind of like I was drinking a hot coffee flavored milkshake due to the creamy texture and weakness of the coffee.  I also love their drinks.  For example, they have a water that is naturally flavored with hints of flowers and fruits and is extremely refreshing.  In the summer, they have a drink with chunks of bananas and oranges, and another with chunks of strawberries and mint, that they blend in front of you to make for a delicious kine of smoothie.

Along the left wall is a buffet of hot food.  The soup is at the beginning and there is always a vegetarian option.  The soup changes every day and each bowl of soup comes with a choice of bread (including whole wheat rolls!!)  There are various types of quiches, sweet and savory pies, pastas, lasagnas, etc.  Everything vegetarian is marked with a green V and all of the food is organic.

Exki at CDG Airport

There was just one time that I really disliked my choice.  I ordered a vegetarian spinach and mushroom quiche to go.  Not only was it so oily that the bag turned transparent, but when I took a bite into the quiche I thought that it tasted like ground beef and creamy mayonnaise.  It tasted quite the opposite of healthy and I actually ran back to the restaurant in order to ensure that I had in fact not taken a non-vegetarian beef.  I confirmed that the quiche was only made with spinach and mushrooms, and that the mushrooms gave it that beef texture, but I would not order it again because it was too dense and oily.

If you eat vegetarian at non-Kosher restaurants, there is something for everyone to eat at Exki.  They also have locations at both Charles De Gaule and Orly Aiport!  I was at the airport at 6am waiting for a flight to meet my parents in Budapest over the summer and the brand new Exki and CDG airport was a site for soar (and tired) eyes!  It was really beautifully designed and had plenty of tables.  I grabbed a capuccino and a peice of apple crisp (sweet and quite delicious!) and read by book while eating breakfast.

Posted in $$, 5 Stars, American, Arrondissement 13, Arrondissement 14, Dessert/Coffee, Does Not Meet all Kosher Standards, Take-Out, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Deloren Cafe: 45 Avenue de Friedland 75008 Paris

Télephone : 01 43 59 38 26

Josh and I always pass this restaurant on our walk towards the Champs Elysees.  We had not heard anything about it from any local opinions, which does not bode well since the French Jews LOVE speaking about their favorite Kosher restaurants!  Nevertheless, it is close to our apartment, and is usually pretty crowded with people when we pass.

We went to see Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz on the Champs Elyesses tonight.  Since we were both ravenously hungry after the movie, we agreed to give Deloren Cafe a try.  It is around the corner from the theatre and conveniently on the walk back to our apartment anyways.  The menu had varied options (although it was QUITE expensive) and Josh specifically wanted a steak tonight since tomorrow starts the 9 days (which means no eating meat for 9 days straight!)  Although I would always rather eat at a dairy restaurant, there were a few items on the menu that looked appealing (salad chinoise and various pasta dishes).

We chose to sit inside the restaurant, which contrary to the busy terrace area, was very quiet and empty.   It was also colder inside the restaurant than it was outside.  Before the waitress came to take our order, she brought a plate of olives to the table,  In Paris, about 95% of restaurants will bring either a basket of bread, a plate of olives, or both to the table before the meal.  Olives can be extremely hit or miss, but these were good- not too bitter or too strong.

Josh ordered the steak tornadoes (26 euros)- the cut of meat which I’ve noticed he almost alwas orders.   I think it’s because they are meant to be less fatty than other cuts.  His meal was served with fries.  I was debating between the salad chinoise (20 euros) and the pasta with fake shell fish (24 euros).  The salad chinoise would have been a safer choice since most of the meat restaurants in Paris serve it and it tastes more or less the same everywhere.  The waitress informed me that the pasta with fake shell fish is the “house specialty” and the most popular dish on the menu.  It is linguini pasta sauteed in a tomato based sauce with olive oil and white wine, and chunks of surimi (the fish that they put in california roll).  At that point, I couldn’t refuse giving it a go!

The most effective way to know that the food is awful at a restaurant is when you go to dinner so starving that you think anything will taste good and your food still tastes horrible.  My dish actually looked delicious, and they say that food presentation contributes significantly to the way it tastes.  However, my pasta dish actually tasted like nothing.   The sauce had no flavor and the entire dish was extremely bland.  Even the pasta was uncooked- every now and then I struggled to chew on some tough strands of pasta.  I had to add half of the salt shaker to my dish in order to be able to actually tolerate it.  If this is the house specialty, I can’t imagine how poor the rest of the food must be.  Further, 24 euros for a small plate of pasta with fake crab (probably the least expensive kind of fish) is a giant rip off.

Josh's Tornadoes as they were served, doused in sauce

Josh also detested his meat.  It was served covered in a creamy puddle sauce, which was almost drowning the meat.  He had to wipe a large portion of the sauce to the side before taking his first bite.  The tornadoes were tough like leather and I watched his face cringe as he effortfully strained to cut the fillet.  The meat was so chewy that he had to spit a few pieces out that he could not break down with his teeth.  This was a very anticlimactic final meat dining experience for him, but he insisted that at least he won’t be craving meat for the rest of the week after leaving with this taste in his mouth!  His frites were quite good- thick and crunchy, but they needed a great deal of salt to enhance the flavor.  The ross Israeli brand ketchup just wasn’t doing the trick.

Tornadoes post de-saucing

We were both still so unsatisfied and hungry after we finished, but since both of us expressed that we disliked our food more than we had at any Kosher restaurant in Paris thus far, dessert did not look promising!  When we left the restaurant Josh exclaimed “I feel like I got raped by that experience!” We went home and feasted on some gluten free chocolate chip cookies for dessert!

Posted in $$$, 1 Star, Arrondissement 17, French, Meat, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Yayin: 33 rue Cardinet 75017 Paris

When we went to the Gross’s for lunch on Shavuot, one of their guests told us about a new Kosher restaurant called The Butcher’s Daughter which had recently opened up in the 17th arrondissement.  He highly recommended it and told us that it was some of the best meat he had ever had.  Even though I’m not a huge fan of la viande, Josh was craving a steak so we decided to try it.  When we got there at around 9:30, there was a huge crowd of people standing outside the restaurant.  The hostess told us that it would be an hour wait, so we decided to pass on eating there that evening.  Had we come at 8pm, she told us, there would not have been a wait (since 8pm is like when senior citizens eat dinner in Paris.)  We looked at the menu and laughed, since it actually looked almost identical to every other meat Kosher restaurant in the area.  Since it’s new and there is hype around the opening of a new place, it draws in the crowds.  However, there is nothing that appears to differentiate it from the others.

We continued to walk down rue Cardinet and came to a stop at Yayin.  I had passed by Yayin before but it had never really appealed to me.  This is because the menu has very little to choose from and is extremely gourmet.  There are about 7 appetizers, 8 mains, and 5 desserts.  Furthermore, the menu includes unconventional items such as Gefilte fish with coconut milk in a banana leaf, mango and foie gras confit, Crispy Rice Persian duck in charoset, and creamy polenta Veal roast.  The French would refer to this kind of cuissine as la nouvelle cuissine.

Josh and I stood outside the restaurant and studied the menu for about 5 minutes.  There were two chicken dishes on the menu, but neither of them were white meat so I was not really interested in staying.  After some time, the owner of the restaurant poked her head out of the door and in a friendly manner said, “don’t worry, I don’t bite my customers’ heads off.”  She explained that her menu changes every season and each individual order is prepared on the spot with only the freshest ingredients.  There were two fish dishes that sounded appealing enough to try and Josh was interested in experiencing something new.  I finally agreed that it would be fun and adventurous to try la nouvelle cuisine at a Kosher restaurant!

We sat down and were handed the most extensive wine list I have ever seen at a Kosher restaurant.  They call themselves Yayin for a very good reason!  What was most helpful was that each wine on the list had small symbols next to it to describe the undertones and flavors of the wine.  For example, some wines had little pictures of cherries to imply a fruity essence, some had chocolate and cinnamon to imply a deeper and richer essence, etc.  Josh and I drink a lot of wine these days, but I can never remember the names and makers of the wines that I like.  My lack awareness about the wines I drink of makes it difficult to be able to decipher which wine to order off of a regular menu without pictures/descriptions of the wines.  I remembered a chocolaty wine that I tried in Australia and LOVED, so I ordered a glass of the wine with the chocolate symbol next to it, an Israeli Organic Merlot Volcanic (8.50 euro).  It was very close to the flavor that I had been searching for, so I was pleased with the choice.  Josh ordered a Pinot Noir (7.30 euro) which was also quite delicious.  The waiter was very helpful in recommending the right wine for me.

When it came time to order the meal, Josh ordered Charlotte lamb with eggplant puree and pesto (30 euro) and I ordered the Tuna steak with quinoa and Israeli salad (30 euro).  Since I don’t like Israeli salad, I asked the waiter if he could bring me just regular salad instead.  I also ordered in French since not only was his English not hot, but I like to practice speaking French in whatever capacity I am able to.

When our food came out, my tuna came with a bowl of salad and no quinoa.  I thought that perhaps the quinoa was under the salad, but it was not.  I called the waiter over and asked him where my quinoa was.  Due to the language barrier causing miscommunication, he thought that I had asked him to replace the quinoa with salad.  I was a bit frustrated since this was the second time in one week when I ordered in French and not been served what I thought I ordered (read the post about Chez Vicky for more information).  At first, he was a bit defensive and insisted that this was what I had ordered, which is very typical of French restaurant service- “the customer is always wrong.”  However, he kindly changed his attitude and told me that the kitchen would prepare a side of quinoa for me.

Subsequently, the owner of the restaurant came over to us to make friendly conversation.  She asked us where we were from, why we were here in Paris, etc, and her English was perfect.  We told her about the business that we are running in Paris and she told us about her culinary background.  She has an impressive degree from Ferrandi, the most renowned culinary school in Paris.  She personally apologized for the lack of quinoa on my plate and ensured that they would prepare it for me straight away.  I was almost in shock at how customer friendly the service was.

The side of quinoa came quickly, and we both enjoyed our meals tremendously.  I was especially pleasantly surprised since I expected to dislike la nouvelle cuisine, fancy foods in small portions.  Everything that I tasted was fresh and made with high quality ingredients.  My fillet of tuna was moist and flavorful, and came with a tasty and nicely matching garnish sauce.  I also dipped my tuna in Josh’s pesto sauce, which made for a scrumptious combination!  The garden salad was simple and fresh, with a light citrusy dressing that tasted like it was olive oil and lemon based.  The quinoa was surprisingly plain, cooked with just grains of salt.  However, it complemented the flavors in the tuna dish- sometimes plain and simple is better.

Josh enjoyed his lamb, but only when dipped in the eggplant and pesto sauces.  Eaten alone, he expressed that it tasted overwhelmingly gamey, however, when dipped in the sauces, it was delicious.  Since he was still hungry when he finished his dish (Josh was not made for France’s la nouvelle cuisine), he ordered a side of potatos, which was listed with one of the other mains.

Josh eats a lot of potatos since having celiac, potatos are one of the only starches that he can eat.  He exclaimed that these potatoes were the best he had ever had in his life.  The plate was a mix of crispy sauteed sweet and regular potato wedges with a sweet and salty flavor.  When he quickly finished his plate all he wanted to do was order more.

We both definitely had room for dessert since our meals were pretty small and light.  For dessert, I ordered the molten chocolate cake with a Merlot sauce.  I was debating between the chocolate cake and the Semoule served with date compote and espresso ice cream.  I had never tasted Semoule before, but the date and espresso part sounded good.  I asked the nice owner which she would recommend and she told me that although their menu changes every season, the chocolate cake always stays on the menu since it is their most popular dessert (10 euro).  That made my decision a lot easier!  Chocolate cake it is!  I don’t lie when I say that this was the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted.  The inside was so gooey and delicious, and the merlot reduction contributed to its outrageous flavor!  All I needed was a scoop of vanilla ice cream and I would have been in heaven!

Josh ordered the only non-gluten item on the menu, the iced jasmine sabayon with red fruit gelatin and hibiscus (10 euro). It was very creamy and a little too sweet for my liking, but it was beautifully presented.   He also ordered another glass of wine since he was so pleased with the first glass.  This time, he went with a white, a Pinot Gris (6.50 euro), but it was too sweet and he couldn’t drink more than half of the glass.  The owner also offered me a glass of complimentary tea- another first time experience for me at a restaurant in Paris.  Normally if a restaurant screws up your order, they refuse to fix it for you or apologize, let alone bring offer you something complimentary.  This was a case of an owner who knows how to run a customer satisfactory business.

We met a couple for dinner at Rafael on The Friday night a few nights later who had also eaten at Yayin the night after we did.  We discovered that the owner had offered them complimentary tea as well (we each thought that we were special but she must order all Americans tea).  We spent a few minutes talking about how nice she was and how delicious the food and wine were at Yayin.

It was refreshing to go to a Kosher restaurant that didn’t really feel like a Kosher restaurant but rather, an authentic French upscale restaurant.  Many of today’s French restaurants, and especially Kosher restaurants do not typically serve La Nouvelle Cuissine, since people enjoy eating larger portions and getting more for their money, despite the elegance of the presentation.  The biggest shame is that the owner explained that her business is struggling since Kosher people don’t appreciate her food.  It is difficult for me to understand why other expensive Kosher restaurants with the same boring menus continue to thrive, yet her unique and quality cuisine is under appreciated.  The truth is, we are creatures of habit right?  Even I didn’t want to dine at Yayin because the menu was too foreign and intimidating.  It was the friendliness of the owner (and the fact that I would have a new entry on my blog) that pushed me to give it a try.  I would definitely recommend Yayin for a special occasion dinner.  It is not the kind of place that you would eat at every night, since it is expensive and a emits a special ambiance.  And if you are someone who has a real appreciation for wines, you’ll really enjoy this!

Posted in $$$, 5 Stars, Arrondissement 17, French, Meat, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Le Chateaubriand: 125 rue de Tocqueville 75017 Paris

Josh’s best friend Ryan was visiting us from Arizona.  Like Josh, Ryan is a HUGE foodie and it is clear that part of what makes them such great friends is their common love of food.  Like most foodies who go on vacation, Ryan spend the entire week “eating his way through Paris” and trying to taste as many French specialties and delicacies as possible.  In honor of his last night with us, we decided to take him to Le Chataubriand, which is meant to be one of the most upscale and gourmet Kosher restaurants in Paris.

During our brisk walk to Le Chateaubriand at 10:15pm (the kitchen was to close at 10:30 so we were on a race to make it), we passed by several Kosher restaurants that we have frequented at (Cook, Rafael, Simon), all of which were packed to capacity and bubbling with energy.  We were surprised by the fact that there was not a single seat available at any of these restaurants so late at night, neither inside or outside!  We were nervous that we would have a long wait at Le Chateaubriand as well.  The Kosher restaurants are always crowded late at night, but we speculated that perhaps during the spring and summer, especially on a beautiful evening like this was, the Kosher restaurants are even more crowded than usual.  Meanwhile, every non-Kosher restaurant we passed had plenty of open tables.  Parisian Jews must love going out to eat!

On the contrary, when we arrived at Le Chateaubriand, it was practically empty, with only one other couple dining in the restaurant.  Josh and Ryan were starving so their first reaction was one of relief that they would not have to wait a long time to be served. French servers normally like to take their time when they wait upon a table.  Even if you make it obvious that you are ready to order, they seemingly ignore you until they are ready to take down your order.

Le Chateaubriand is definitely not the hippest and trendiest of restaurants.  Let’s just say it doesn’t have that young and ebullient NYC Clubhouse Cafe vibe.  The decor of the restaurant looks like it was taken right out of a museum depicting an aristocratic French home in the 18th century.  The bathroom was one of the loveliest that I have seen at a Kosher restaurant in Paris.  This decor was completely off balanced by the super modern paintings hanging on the walls.  The quiet environment was made even more awkward by the clash of the soft Light fm music playing in the background inside this ultra French restaurant.  Between the cheesy music, the modern artwork, and the century old European decor, we were definitely a bit confused and also amused.  Although the restaurant is very pretty and charming, I think we all would have preferred eating in a more crowded environment.

Since the kitchen was soon to close and the restaurant was so devoid of customers, the waiter actually ran over to take our orders in a pressure-some way.  He did not allow us time to put consideration into our choices.  I am usually really awful at decided what I want to eat at restaurants and usually take a long time to order.  Lucky for me, I rarely like more than 2 dishes on fancy restaurant menus, so I was able to make my decision immediately.  We started with a bottle of wine.  Ryan is a wine connoisseur and has a greater appreciation and knowledge about wine than most young people that I know.  It would feel sacrilegious to go out for dinner with Ryan without having him choose a bottle of wine for the table.  After slight deliberation, we narrowed our choice down to two wines, both of which the restaurant was out of.  Ryan was a bit confused by this, but it was no surprise to me or Josh.  Even the most expensive of Kosher restaurants simply aren’t operated the same way as not Kosher restaurants on a similar caliber.  We ordered a rose wine instead because it was one of the only bottles that they had available (39 euro).  O well!

Almost all of the entrees on the menu had some variation of foie gras and the mains were mostly either steak or fish, with one chicken dish available.  The sides were an extremely limited selection of either mashed potatos, an assortment of what the menu called “crunching vegetables,” and potato cake.

I ordered the tuna steak marinated with hazelnut oil and crunching vegetables (30 Euro).  Our server informed us that the tuna is served with mashed potatoes. I requested the crunching vegetables instead of the mashed potatoes (as it had said on the menu!) and specifically requested no carrots several times during my order.   I’m not a huge fan of mashed potatoes (I would prefer French Frites any day) and the crunching vegetables had such a delicious ring to them.  I imagined them to be stir fried and well seasoned and perhaps supplemented with some kind of crunchy noodle.  I should have realized that I am not in an Asian restaurant and should not expect anything overly flavorful at a fancy French Bistro.  My waiter either got confused or couldn’t understand most of what I asked for because he brought the dish as is, with the mashed pototoes and then an extra side of the crunching vegetables (an additional 6 euro)  I enjoyed the mashed potatoes significantly more than the crunching vegetables.  The mashed potatoes were made with some kind of non-dairy creme or butter sauce and had a lot of flavor.  The vegetables were very boring and of course, my assortment of veggies was filled with a generous percentage of carrots!  I have learned that in most instances, it is pointless to tell the waiters that the order is not as I had requested since they either don’t understand what I’m saying or they get almost personally insulted and not willing to correct the mistake and appease the customer.  The flavor was dull and sauteed in what must have been margarine.  The Tuna steak was enormous, probably the largest I have ever had.  It was actually similar in size to the Tuna steak that I had at Kavod a few months ago (written about in the blog).  I ordered it medium-well, but it was extremely pink on the inside.  In one of my bites in from the center of the steak, I almost felt like I tasted blood.  Thank Gd I had wine to wash out the taste!  Other than the raw inside, the rest of the Tuna was cooked to perfection and the meat was extremely moist!  The flavor of the steak was pretty bland and tasted very fishy.  Once I sprinkled lemon juice on it, the fishiness was mitigated and the flavor was significantly enhanced.

Ryan is the kind of guy that will try anything because food is an experience to him and what better way to experience food than to try the most crazy things.  We determined during one of our conversations that he would be game to try pretty much anything except for dog.  Since he dined with two Kosher people, his options for unconventional foods were fairly limited.  He still hadn’t tried foie gras all week and since the menu had so many dishes which incorporated foie gras, the opportunity presented itself.  He ordered Pave Rossini Sauce Foie Gras served with a potato cake (36 euro).  He had requested that his steak be cooked medium rare and used hand motions to emphasize the word “rare” to the server, who seemed to pick up on the message.  His stead was definitely served medium, but he enjoyed it and commented on the generous size of the steak.

Josh ordered Cote de boeuf sauce Bonnefoy served with a potato cake (35 euro).  The beef was supposed to be served with a honey mustard sauce but was served with a red wine sauce instead since they didn’t have the sauce Bonnefoy this evening.  Josh could have opted for the mushroom sauce, but it seems like every French meat kosher restaurant serves steak with the mushroom sauce and Josh was ready for a change of pace.  He was not wowed by him steak but definitely enjoyed it and thought that the potato cake was delicious (like me, he would have rather had French french fries any day)!

Between the wine and the energ-less dining environment, we were all yawning as we left the restaurant.  I would recommend Le Chateubriand to someone who wants to go out for a special or romantic occasion and would not recommend it to a group of friends looking to go out and have a good time.  The food was fresh and very high quality and portions were generous.

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