Friday, August 11, 2017

Dining experiences

We tried two different neighborhood brasseries/restaurants recently, with quite different results.

On Sunday, we made a reservation via for L’Oustal, on the Place Cambronne.  Confirmation of the reservation was sent right away, as usual.  When we arrived on time at 8PM, we found that the restaurant was closed.  No attempt had been made to contact us about that unusual closing.  Contrast this with what happened last time I reserved at Le Blavet:  the chef texted me immediately to tell me that there was only one main course on the menu (duck), because they were closing for vacation the next day.  We thought it was very considerate for the chef to contact us personally.  We went, and enjoyed the duck thoroughly.

Locals dining at Les Favorites, a restaurant on the rue Cambronne.
We gave L’Oustal another chance; we reserved a table on Tuesday.  This time the restaurant was open when we arrived.  As we were being seated, we told the server that we’d reserved via and we gave him our name.  He didn’t seem to care much, but he acknowledged what we said.  

Endive and Roquefort salad at L'Oustal.
Our entrée salad was terrific; our main courses were merely good.  It took a very long time to get the check, and when it arrived, the 20 percent discount was not on it.  Weirdly, the server had asked me to sign my name as it appears on LaFourchette, and to write the reservation number down.  Luckily, I had that information, and I had provided it.  Nevertheless, we did not receive our discount, and we probably won’t return to L’Oustal.  That’s too bad.

Our experience at Les Favorites on the rue Cambronne on Wednesday was entirely different.  We arrived and our reservation via was acknowledged positively.  We were given a great table in the window, even though we aren’t locals or regulars – yet.  Later in the evening, the place was packed with locals.
There is no discount at Les Favorites, because you don’t need one.  The prices are quite reasonable there.

Les Favorites’ food was great.  We shared a shrimp and salad starter course (below) which was perfect for a summer evening; the shrimp were tender and tasty. 

Tom had a veal scallopini with thin slices of country ham and a homemade tomato sauce on homemade tagliatelles – veal saltimbacca is what we’d call it, but Les Favorites calls it escalope bolognaise.  Whatever.  It was excellent.

Veal Scalloppini at Les Favorites.
I took a risk and ordered the 16-euro steak with pepper sauce.  The risk paid off; the steak was tender and delicious.  The fries that came with it were piping hot, and Tom helped me by consuming half of them.

Tom had a fine café gourmand for dessert, and I had a moelleaux au chocolat that was heavenly (photos below).  The service was orderly and friendly at Les Favorites, and I’m sure we will be back there soon.  I’ve added it to my list of “favorites” on LaFourchette.

We enjoyed walking down the rue Cambronne so much on Wednesday that we decided to walk its full, shady length on Thursday afternoon. 

Starting at the Place Cambronne, we walked south along the wider stretch of the rue, which has a large space on the west side with a double row of mature trees.  The street is a pleasant mix of residential and small businesses. 

Flowers along the side of the rue Cambronne.

At the rue de Vaugirard, the rue Cambronne changes names to the rue Paul Barruel.  That ends at the Place Alleray, where we continued along the rue Brancion to the rue de Vouille which becomes the rue de la Convention.

Trees along the rue Cambronne
We were positively impressed with the rue Cambronne/rue Paul Barruel/rue Brancion.  This looks like a comfortably livable neighborhood, with plenty of conveniences like grocery stores and markets, pharmacies, shops that sell things you really need, etc.  Apartment buildings are clustered around verdant courtyards.  Life looks pretty good there, and it is, by Parisian standards, affordable.

We’d not spend much time along the rues Cambonne/Paul Barruel/Brancion before, so we were exploring “new” territory for us.  But when we turned onto the rue de Vouille/rue de la Convention, we were on very familiar turf.
The ceiling at Le Train Bleu is spectacular; the food and service were only mediocre.

Great friends, the Burkes and Maddy, dined with us at Le Train Bleu.

At avenue Felix Faure, we turned right to head back into the heart of our neighborhood.  We stopped in Le Monde et Nous, where Tom helped me shop for a new dress.  I found one I love – blue, with blue lace, made in Italy – for 39 euros! 

I’ll probably wear that for dinner with friends at the famous Le Train Bleu.

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