Friday, August 31, 2018

Archelle, Alchimie, Intuition, and a baby

August 31, 2018 --  We've been busy with work -- the textbook business is thriving, I'm happy to say -- but you want to know about Paris.  What I have to tell you is about three lovely dinners we've enjoyed during the past three evenings, all in the 15th arrondissement.

I begin with L'Archelle, on the Avenue Segur, on Tuesday evening.  This place is new to us this year, after my having discovered it on as I surfed for restaurants near us with high ratings.  The location is graceful -- a broad avenue that is quiet, and lined with tall trees, near UNESCO. 
The dining room of L'Archelle on the Avenue Segur

The interior of the place is warm and welcoming, with light wood panelling and pale blue wallpaper peppered with images of tropical fish.  The chef is a quiet, mature man who certainly knows what he is doing.  We began our dinner with a mushroom and foie gras tart in a pool of rich, brown sauce.  Then I indulged in a parmentier, a country dish with duck confit on the bottom, topped by puréed potatoes and shredded cheese.  Tom had a delicious veal rib-eye, topped with seasonal mushrooms and served with steamed potatoes and veggies.  His dish also had that delicious, rich brown sauce.

Tropical fish wallpaper at L'Archelle

Mushroom and foie gras tart at L'Archelle.

Veal rib-eye with steamed potatoes and veggies at L'Archelle.

Parmentier at L'Archelle.

L'Archelle Restaurant.

We were surprised that we were the only people dining at l'Archelle that evening; this place should be full every night!  We thanked the chef as we were leaving.  He was gracious, and he told us that the reason the place was empty was that this was the first night he was open after vacation.  His regulars are still on their way back to Paris.

But the next night, as we headed out for dinner at L'Alchimie, we noticed that they're back!  Parisians are back from vacation and they are filling up the sidewalks, hurrying to and fro, as they always do.
l'Alchimie, by Chef Eric Rogoff.

Yet L'Alchimie retains the charm and calm of the countryside, here in the middle of the city.  We were warmly welcomed by Chef Eric Rogoff and his wife, who does a marvelous job of neatly printing the menu on a blackboard.  We each ordered the sole meunière, and this time, we let her debone it.  I trust her.  When they were ready, she showed us the attractive plates with the whole fish, then she took them back into the kitchen.  Sure enough, when she brought the sole back, deboned, the dishes were still hot (hooray!) and the fish filets were in pools of melted, clarified, slightly salty butter.

The accompaniment was broccoli flan -- a welcome change from bland steamed potatoes that normally accompany sole meunièreSole meunière can be expensive in Paris; at L'Alchimie, however, it is reasonable -- and it is the best.

The sole meunière, after deboning, at l'Alchimie.
Peach and nectarine, in a mirabelle mousse, with an almond crumble on top -- that was my marvelous dessert.  It was exactly what I hoped it would be: fresh, fruity, and creamy, and not too sweet.  Tom had the rich, dark chocolate fondant cake with a scoop of top-quality ice cream.

As we left, we stopped to thank Chef and Madame Rogoff.  He told us he had an announcement: the restaurant will be moving next month!  He wanted to be sure we knew, and told us that we can check the resto's Facebook page to learn about the new location.  He hasn't yet decided which location, but it may be in the 14th arrondissement.  I asked if he was moving to a larger space, and he said, emphatically, yes.  We are so happy for them to be moving up, even though we will miss having them so close by. 
Madame Rogoff's neat writing on the menu blackboard.
Peaches and nectarines in a golden-plum mousse topped with crunchy almonds.

But we will go, even into the depths of the 14th, to dine at Chef Eric's place again and again.   As I've said many times, l'Alchimie is my favorite restaurant in Paris.  We've been dining there since it opened, ten years ago.  The food is always delicious, the place is charming, it is not too fancy, nor is it bedraggled.  Great care is taken with the food, drink, and service.  And yet is is relaxing and fun to dine there.  We wish the Rogoffs every success.

Another small inn for insects, this one in the Parc Lambert.

Last night, we dined at Intuition Gourmande, a place we discovered in a recent year.  The chef is Mathieu Sebban-Sedefdjian.  Tom especially wanted to return there, so as soon as the place re-opened after vacation, I booked a table.  The location is near the stately town hall of the 15th, and close to the beautiful and popular Parc Saint Lambert.  We walked around the park three times on our way to dine.

Duckling filets at Intuition Gourmande.

Being the first diners to arrive, at 7:30PM, we were given our choice of tables, so we picked one in the front corner of the beautifully dark-wood paneled dining room.  Soon others arrived, including a French man, his Australian wife, and their baby.  They sat near us.

The baby seemed to like looking at me and smiling, so we made nice faces at each other.  But when I was distracted by ordering dinner, the baby began to cry.  The baby cried more.  And more.

When the couple's food arrived, they couldn't eat because they were trying to calm the baby.  Tom offered to hold the baby, and his offer was readily accepted.  So, Tom and I got some baby time in.  It was fun for us and for the baby.  No crying.  Everyone in the dining room was happy about that.

When the couple had finished their main courses, the man took the baby back and we chatted with the Australian mom.
Beef filet with pepper sauce and mashed potatoes
at Intuition Gourmande.

We learned that she is an academic, and the university she works for is in Melbourne.  Tom's good friend Bill Breen (from undergraduate days at Duke) is a professor in Melbourne, too, and Tom has been there to visit.  So we had lots to talk about.

We enjoyed our dinner, too.  Tom had a beef filet, and I had ducking filets.  All was beautifully prepared. 

Tom ordered a café gourmand that came with three miniature desserts, which we shared. 

As we walked home, we paused at a corner where we could see the Eiffel Tower, as it twinkled away at 9PM, like a magic wand over the city.

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