Every once in a while, my teaching day job finally pays off.
For example, the day that I learned that my new student was Chef Patrice Hardy, owner and chef of both La Truffe Noire in Neuilly and Au Rendez-vous des Camionneurs on Ile de la Cite, was a particularly delightful one.
Little did he know that when he extended me the probably now routine invitation to come to one of his restaurants one day and give him a call beforehand that I would actually be taking him up on his offer much sooner rather than later. (I had of course kept my restaraunt reviewer extraordinaire secret identity, well...secret).
So off we went to the beautiful Ile de la Cite, a scenic yet not necessarily 'happening' place to put Hardy's fledgling bistro experiment that was to follow the already well established Truffe Noire.
The bistro itself is nestled at the edge of the Parisian island, tucked away in a forgotten street corner...
...and the decor is cozy-chic. I don't know if that even exists, but if it does, I'm certain it's a Parisian who invented it.
The menu itself is rather interesting. I had heard that it boasts some rather plentiful piggy platters, but I was surprised to discover that my favorite dish on the menu was a seared tuna steak with 'asian spices'. I'll admit it's not the most obvious choice on the menu of a French bistro, which is why I myself didn't order it, however I was by far the most jealous to have not done so once I got a bite of it from one of my co-conspirators.
Equally surprising was the croque monsieur with haddock, goats cheese and and smoked herring eggs.
On to the main dishes, I thought it a great twist to have a risotto with sot l'y laisse (remember my post on that a few years back?). Then there was the absolutely stunning blanquette de joue de veau which is apparently the same recipe as at the Truffe Noire and honestly, by far the creamiest, tastiest, tenderest one that I've ever eaten. And I've eaten a lot of them, trust me.
My main dish was by far the most beautifully presented, yet somehow the most dissapointing. Don't get me wrong, it was a delicious compilation of scallops on a bed of leeks, presented in the actual shell that was shut by a roll of pastry dough to create a sort of sea food vacuum pack effect. The scallops were cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, but it lacked seasoning, which couldn't even be corrected by the very light curry sauce served with it.
The chocolate tartlet for dessert was like a chocolate moelleux, but with a flaky homemade pie crust. The pistachio creme was good, but not as earth shattering as the tartlet.
The best part of this bistro is that for the digestif, they just put the entire bottle of calvados on your table and let you serve yourself. I'm not sure if that was because I was getting special treatment (which I doubt) or because they really are passionate about making people's bellies feel happy.
As for the cost, we went all out, ordering 3 courses à la carte, plus loads of scrumptious Bourgorgne wine (very reasonably priced), plus digestifs, so it was pretty pricey- around 70 euros per person. But if you are a little less gluttonous than me, you can have the 36 euro menu for 3 courses.