Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gastronomy in Paris: Le Grande Cafe Capucines

Sometimes a favourite restaurant has nothing to do with the restaurant boasting of Gault Millau, or Michelin Star. Sometimes, it is just the right combination of service, ambience, and food which suits one's taste. The Grande Cafe Capucines is one such restaurant for me. Undecorated, but a firm favourite.

Right next to the Paris Opera, on Boulevard Capucines, is the Grande Cafe. I discovered this some 20 years ago, on a business trip...we were hungry, tired, and it was drizzling in Paris. My colleague and I saw this magnificent cafe, looking regal and like it stepped right out of the 1920s belle epoch. We immediately went in.

This is a typical art deco style Parisian restaurant. The tables are set very close to each other...it is impossible not to hear what the table beside is discussing...of course, if its French, their discussion remains private to us.

I love this restaurant. The service is always efficient, which is more than what can be said of many Parisian restaurants...though truth be told, they have improved over the years. These days, they attempt to speak English...and often quite good English when in the old days, even if the waiters do speak English, they pretend not to, and spoke only French. And more nowadays, they do not turn a nose if you just order carafe eau, instead of sparkling or still water.

And they were serving divine French oysters. One of the few in the 1se Arr which have a oyster booth outside the restaurant.

These were fine de Claire no 3 I think, or perhaps no 5. They were delicious. Succulent, fresh, smooth and rather fat. Wonderful with just a touch of lemon or a dash of tabasco. Marvellous.

For starters we also had some foie gras

I rather usually prefer pan fried foie gras, but they didn't have that. So we had the pate. This was a rather large serving. Quite nice foie gras...as usual, fat, satisfying...slight greasy, but immensely aromatic as only foie gras can be, and tasted very nice.

For our mains, Edward had the baby chicken in a pot

Nicely done. The chicken, though described as a baby chicken was rather large...perhaps the size of our regular kampung chicken. The meat was nicely done, very succulent, tasty. The skin is almost crisp, though not quite. A little braising liquid sat in the pot. Very tasty.

Kin had the veal chop

This was divine. Beautiful cut of veal. Nice, decent serving size. Perfectly grilled...slightly crisp on the outside with beautiful maillard. And very tender within. The accompanying jus was also savoury and very tasty, as were the morelle mushrooms. This was a winner dish. One to come back for more. Excellent.

I had the lamb shank

It was roasted perfectly. Very tender, very moist within. But the sauce, in my view was a tad too sweet...perhaps the reduction was allowed to caramalize a bit too much for my taste. The carrots and radish supporting the lamb was very nicely done. This is still a very good dish, but I did find the sauce a bit too sweet.

The portions were rather large, so for dessert, we only ordered one...a combination of sorbet and ice cream

The pear and lemon sorbet was right up my alley. The ice crystals were very small, almost undetectable...well, actually not detectable on the palate, and the fruit confit used to make the ice sorbet superb. Powerful flavours of pear and lemon. The sole scoop of chocolate ice cream was good too, but de rigeur. The scoops were mixed with very rich full cream and drops of French pastry which tasted very good...super sweet to be sure, but had a hard texture, which gave way to a slightly sticky and overpowering sweet melange. Nice.

I almost always eat at this restaurant everytime I am in Paris. We loved the package so much, we ate there twice on this 7 day trip. So for me, my conclusion is absolutely recommended.

Le Grand Cafe Capucines
4 Boulevard des Capucines
75009 Paris, France
+33 1 43 12 19 00
http://www.legrandcafe.com/

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