Thursday, 2 July 2009

Le Comptoir at Place d'Odéon

An all-time favorite that serves basic delicious French dishes, is always crowded, and attracts French people more than tourists: the brain child of one of France's most innovative chefs

I have been to Le Comptoir many times. At night, one must reserve 6 months in advance for this tiny restaurant that saves 1/2 its tables for the hotel next door. At dinner, you will be served a prix fixe meal with no choices for 50 euros without beverages and it is well worth it. The meal consists of five courses and a beautiful composed wonderful meal by the chef, Yves Camdeborde, who started the "young chef revolution" in France. Many years ago, he and some other very good chefs worked with Christian Constant, and after that, created their own restaurants where they would serve delicious food at reasonable prices. Camdeborde's first restaurant was La Regalade in the 14th arrondissement. And that place was always crowded.

More fun for me is to go at lunch or at any time on the weekends. There are no reservations and when you are seated, you are privy to an extensive menu with everything from a salade Niçoise à ma façon to a smoked salmon croque monsieur, to beef cheeks, hardy paté, or tuna juste saisi servi bleu or even a fancy lobster salad. The desserts are sensational. Appetizers range in price depending on how complicated; entrées are usually in the 20 euro range and desserts are 8-10 euros. No frites with steak, thank you! On the mirror in the restaurant are written the day's specials.

My friend and Japanese teacher, Yumiko, and I met for lunch and toasted the event with glasses of Michel Drappier Blanc de Blanc Champagne. Yumiko chose a delicious brandade de morue with a golden brown crust on top, served with a hearts of sucrine salad with toasted croutons. I had the red shrimp à la plancha simply grilled that was garnished with grilled sweet red peppers, almonds, and a parsley pesto. It was spectacular. For dessert, I had the creamiest panna cotta I have ever had covered with a marmelade of fresh apricots, and Yumiko had a sablé of roasted fresh peaches accompanied by a flavorful brebis milk ice cream. We asked if it is possible to come just for dessert and coffee and they said that after 3:30pm or 10pm would be fine for that.

The atmosphere is convivial and lunch service goes from about 11:30-3:30. On weekends, the restaurant is open from about 11:30am-10pm and serves non-stop.The restaurant is always packed and well worth a visit. Camdeborde comes from the south of France and many of that region's specialties are featured including a succulent paté de campagne.