There is a restaurant called Cook about a 5 minute walk away from our apartment that we have walked by countless times. It is always busy inside, but the menu looks just like every other meat French restaurant in Paris, so neither Josh nor I were dying to go there. Some examples of common menu items were hamburgers, chicken wings, foie gras, different cuts of steaks, and a few limited and very plain chicken dishes. Of course, the side dishes were the standard haricot verts, frites, and spaghetti Bolognese. We actually stopped in once for dinner, but before we were seated, we agreed that we were both more in the mood for Chinese food, so we left to go to Missada instead (written about in another entry).
We were really hungry after coming home from work one night and wanted to go somewhere close and convenient, so we decided to give Cook a try. Like most other Parisian restaurants, the restaurant is in a small space and packed with as many tables as will fit in the confined area. As has often been the case, we were sat directly next to another couple. When I say next to, I mean there was probably less than an inch of space between our tables. In that regard, it is advantageous that we speak English and that our French is so poor. At least if we are sitting close enough to eavesdrop on another couple’s conversation, we are not able to understand the bulk of what they are saying!
After a long day of work, nothing sounded more appealing than a cool glass of wine. The restaurant staff were very clearly not wine connoisseurs, as they had no knowledge of the type of wines that they offered. The menu only had one red, one rose, and one white, so we started with a bottle of the Rose, which was much more bitter than my preference of rose’s. After taking a look at the menu, I was certain that I would order the salad Chinoise, since I have never met a Salad Chinoise in Paris that I haven’t liked. It is a highly popular item on French Kosher meat restaurants and typically consists of strips of grilled or fried chicken over a bed of soja beans (bean sprouts) and covered in a delicious sweet sauce Chinoise (resembles a thick duck sauce).
The couple next to us ordered the salad Chinoise and the Caesar salad. Since we were sitting so close to them, I was able to get a good glimpse of the salads. The salad Chinoise did not look as I had imagined it would. Instead of what I described above, it was strips of grilled chicken over a bed of shredded carrots, cucumbers, and soja beans topped off with the classic sauce Chinoise. Carrots and cucumbers are two of my least favorite foods, so I turned my attention back to other choices on the menu.
The waitress came to take our order, but she didn’t speak English well enough to understand all of the questions that Josh and I had about the menu. Since we are both not easy customers, we very often find ourselves in this situation: the regular server comes to take our order, we have a bunch of complicated questions related to my pickiness or Josh’s gluten restrictions, the waitress sends the manager who is the only staff in the restaurant who speaks English well enough to cater to understand us and successfully take our order. The manager came to take our order after our waitress had given up hope of comprehending our questions. I requested whether it would be possible to prepare the salad Chinoise without the carrots and cucumbers (just the bean sprouts) and with strips of fried chicken instead of grilled. He responded that the dish only comes as is. Sometimes I forget that I am no longer in the U.S anymore, and you can’t make special requests at French restaurants and expect them to be the slightest bit accommodating. He told me that the Caesar salad is one of the most popular items on the menu. I don’t like caesar dressing, however, for those readers who are fans of caesar salad, I will say that the salad at the table next to me looked absolutely delicious and the portion was extremely generous!
I decided to order the Escalope Milanaise (27 euro)- two large and very thin filets of crispy fried chicken, traditionally served with a marinara sauce. I had a strong craving for fried chicken, which had been made apparent by my desire to eat the salad Chinois. Instead of ordering the chicken with the recommended side of spaghetti with tomato sauce, I requested a side of the sauce Chinoise for dipping, and a side of frites. The chicken was absolutely delectable! The inside was juicy and soft like butter, and the outside was crispy and fried to perfection. The chicken was bursting with flavor, since the breadcrumbs were flavored with a variety of fresh herbs. most distinctively garlic. The sauce Chinoise was a perfect sweet compliment to the savoriness of the chicken. Although the fillets were deep fried and very oily, the dish did not feel too heavy since the pieces were so thin. The Escalope Milanese was so yummy that I was actually sad when it was all finished. On the contrary, the frites were some of the worst frites I’ve had in Paris. They were almost flavorless, were served room temperature, and had a thin and soggy consistency. I had to add a generous amount of salt to enhance the flavor and wish they would have left them in the fryer longer so that they would be warmer and crispier.
Josh was in the mood for a good steak, so he ordered the Rib Eye (34 euro). It was a fattier than he would have preferred, but he really enjoyed it. The steak was a so big that he couldn’t finish the whole thing. He kept trying to convince me to try a piece, but I haven’t eaten red meat in seven years, and I was not about to start with a fat piece of steak with a reddened flesh! Especially since Cook is so conveniently located close to our apartment, I would go back again for the Escalope Milanese. However, there aren’t too many other dishes on the menu that get me super excited.