Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Two Delectable Restaurants with Good Friends

Two restaurant reviews: Le 122 and Amici Miei. Both are terrific places and worth checking out.

When my cousin, Sarah, and her companion, Chris, came to Paris, the three of us went to two excellent restaurants. I searched in my favorite book: Le Pudlo and found a "heart throb" (one of his favorite critic categories) in the 7th arrondissement: Le 122 on rue de Grenelle. This is a lovely French restaurant designed by Philip Starck. There are three intimate rooms so although the restaurant feels small, in fact, it is quite large. We had a table in a nook in the rear which enabled us to watch other diners and servers and participate in the rhythm of the restaurant. The food is fine, and the three of us tasted many of the selections from the interesting menu.

The puree of celeri-rave, radis noir amuse-bouche was excellent. Black radishes are long and thin with a black coating that is removed when eaten. I love celery root and the combination was delicious.

I started with a magnificent feuilleté d'escargot aux champignons et beurre d'ail. This is a puff pastry with mushrooms and chewy delectable snails in a garlic butter. Garlic butter with snails is a classic combination but the addition of mushrooms modernizes the dish. Sarah had a royale de foie gras et velouté de topinambour: a duck liver custard with jerusalem artichokes--sumptuous. Chris had six beautiful fresh oysters--a perfect seasonal dish.

For our main courses, there was sirloin steak with a potato-parsnip gratin garnish. The parsnip added sweetness to the luscious potato dish. We also had a wonderful pigeon with cabbage and lardons and a potato cake with foie gras on top of some filo pastry. Thirdly was the very seasonal dish of scallops (the season runs from October to May and at this time of year, the scallops are meaty and flavorful) garnished with a creamy celery root with black truffles. Such elegant and fancy dishes in a restaurant where one doesn't have to take out a second mortgage to dine well is truly a wonderful treat.

After such a rich and lovely dinner, there was really no room for dessert but we did share the Moelleux au Chocolat, sorbet chocolat-passion which is one of my favorites. We were lucky that there was a 15-minute wait during which the moelleux was prepared. In that way, we could digest a bit and feel like eating dessert.

It was a sweet ending to an excellent dinner in a lovely atmosphere.

A few days later, we had to continue to celebrate, so went to my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant: Amici Miei. Such a terrific place! Sarah wanted me to order for everyone as I had been there many times before, but I had to consult with my friends. Here is our wonderful menu: Bresaola Pizza with arugala, slivers of parmiggiano, mozzarella (delectable); insalata (salad) of arugala and grana cheese; a wonderful spaghetti al pesto with mozzarella di bufala, fresh tomato and basil; Linguine alle vongole; Culurgiones al scampi, asparagi et granchio (handmade ravioli from Sardinia stuffed with spinach and ricotta and garnished with large shrimp, asparagus and crabmeat).

Everything was perfect (as usual). We ordered a wonderful mid-priced Perdera Argiolas Moria di Sardegna (rosso). We are definitely eating sports so we decided to share the ultimate chocolate dessert: il tartufo which is chocolate gelato topped with a dark chocolate sauce.

Anyone who comes to Paris would be thrilled and lucky to eat in this restaurant. Need I say more?