Friday, May 8, 2015

next: Bistro

Last night we went to Paris- LOL - well actually we didn't, but we did go to the Bistro menu at next.
And here is what I have to say about it... I wish I had gone to Paris... because while the food was fine, it just made me "homesick" for a real Parisian bistro.  We love Paris and have been there together at least a dozen times in the last two decades - sometimes as frequently as twice in a year... so we have a lot of bistro experience.

so before we head to Fulton Market Street and the next bistro I wanted to give a shout out to one of the best bistro experiences we have had in Paris. It won't surprise you that this one was recommended by our French friends (who live in the US and rent out their Paris condo while living abroad.) A number of years back about six months after we had met we were headed to Paris and in that small world way we ended up staying directly across the street from Laure's condo...LOL.  we asked them for recommendations for places to eat and Arno sent us to a place a friend had just recommended- L'Ardoise (which is the name of the chalk board where the daily specials are written) and Phil still remembers this dish of seafood "en papillote" which actually was "en tin foil" LOL-

here is my full report from the journal of that trip-

L’Ardoise in the First Arrondisement -  It was fabulous! I started with a sizeable portion of foie gras (easily could serve two and it did.)  Phil started with mussels, scallops and prawns “en papilotte.”  Then our entrees were the cote du cochon for me and the pigeon for Phil.  We both finished with the mini pot de crèmes of chocolate and mascarpone.  Excellent lunch!  My suckling pig was fabulous and could have easily served two, and as a matter of fact pretty much did, as Phil ate about a third.

you can see the place is completely unassuming from the outside but inside the food was excellent and the staff efficient.  and sadly we frequently remark about the dearth of this style of hole-in-the-wall kind of place in America... here is the chalkboard from our trip to Lyon late last May- a classic example - 

 but I digress... LOL

When next decided to do French bistro I expected something like this and while we did get similar food - at least one of us could have actually gone to Paris and eaten a meal there for the cost of this menu once you substituted from the chalk board-- but that really doesn't address the experience.  

This is just a long standing rant I have against faux experiences that Americans are frequently willing to exchange for authentic ones, despite there not being a whole lot of money saving involved. Many years ago a friend and I were at the Disney resort called Yacht & Beach Club (it was business thing so we weren't paying the tab and this was where our meeting planner had booked things) and we calculated that the price of a week vacation at Disney World staying at one of the Disney run theme properties would cost pretty much the same as a real trip to - say Paris - versus the faux EPCOT Paris these people were substituting... seriously folks????!!!!???

But back to the meal- the staff at next could NOT be any nicer... we had a few minutes wait before our table was ready and the front desk folks gave us water and made actual conversation with us before we were seated.  here was the "chalkboard" from the entrance area...

and on the table - reservation cards - with a little story inside-

then the menu- beautiful artwork- 

they were later personalized by the little fleur-de-lis stamps (next to what you ordered)

we went "off the chalkboard" for a number of courses- 

first the amuse- and the Moncuit Champagne-

then off menu-

For the fish course we stayed with the skate- which I frequently order in Europe-

Then we both made choices off menu for the Premier Plat-

the snails came with a pull apart bread in a "sauce" of garlic and parsley--yum

and excellent Beaujolais accompanied these dishes-

Our main was reprise of the Paris 1906 menu that Phil missed due to illness that evening- so we were happy he finally got to have the famous duck! And this time it was made table-side! (our Paris 1906 visit detailed here- - in case you want to revisit the menu from the very first next rotation.)

by now I was stuffed beyond capacity and luckily the dessert was pretty light both in flavor (lemon) and amount- LOL thank God!

the leftovers were tagged in a little bag for us- 

so it was a very enjoyable evening - we had lovely folks at the table next to us- and the service was fabulous, as usual.  But, I would really rather be in Paris eating at a little place with twelve tables and wait staff who waste no time with niceties but who are true professionals... luckily we are headed out in two days to a place with even better food than Paris (don't tell the French) - Brussels, Belgium (Bruxelles) - Moules et frites here we come!!!!

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