My Fellow Traveler is introducing a new monthly restaurant review by Tom Reeves, a confirmed Francophile and co-founder of Discover Paris! (www.discoverparis.net) and the author of two books: Paris Insights – An Anthology and Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light (http://amzn.to/1nkgCyu). Each month, Tom will select an exceptional restaurant for food and wine aficionados. His selection for October is L’Auberge du Roi Gradlon.
L’Auberge has a covered terrace for dining in warm weather. However, the night we ate there, theweather had turned cool and we were seated downstairs in the cave. When I entered the cellar, I remarked that American travelers would enjoy dining in this handsome, rustic-looking room. It has bare-stone walls, exposed beams on the ceiling, a long wall bench with cloth-covered cushions, and a semi-open kitchen.
We decided to order a glass of Bonnet Gilmert blanc de blanc champagne while we studied the menu. Crisp and dry, it had an earthy flavor with notes of green apple at the finish.
The restaurant offers a three-course 26€ menu, which we found to be an astounding bargain considering the quality of the food that we were served in such a delightful setting.
For the starter, I ordered OEuf au plat, aubergines, cêpes, parmesan, a serving of fried egg served sunny-side up with morsels of cep mushrooms, thinly-sliced Parmesan, and a slice of country bread. Lightly dressed in rich brown sauce, the egg dish was simply one of the best that I have ever tasted.
My partner requested Vélouté de cocos de Paimpol. The waitress brought a shallow bowl containing diced celery and diced bacon over which she poured a pitcher of cream of white-bean soup. It was a delectable dish! Because the waitress left the soup tureen on the table, my partner was able to serve herself as much as she wished.
Of the four main courses from which to choose, I selected Kig Ha Farzh, a traditional pôt au feu from Brittany. I received a generous bowl containing sliced carrot, turnip, potato, and endive cooked firm to the bite, all in a light broth. Two large slices of pork belly, one of which was smoked, and a large morsel of beef gave meaty substance to the stew. A thick disk of fried buckwheat contributed crunchy texture. Traditionally, kig ha farzh was consumed by poor peasants; here, at L’Auberge du Roi Gradlon, it is a dish fit for a king.
My partner opted for the Poitrine de porc caramelisée, écrasé de pommes de terre. She received a surprisingly lean, generous, delicately-caramelized portion of pork belly. It was served with spelt and chopped basil with a few shavings of Parmesan. Simply sublime!
Thick-sliced, crusty country-bread with firm, chewy crumb was served alongside in a bread bowl. For the wine accompaniment, we each ordered a glass of Chiroubles Dominique Laurent 2012, a light-bodied, slightly tannic red Beaujolais with spicy aroma and flavor. It went well with both of our starters and main courses.
For dessert, I selected Tartelette aux figues, a small tart (3” in diameter) consisting of a crust of flattened puff pastry supporting a layer of fig preserves, upon which rested thin slices of fig topped with zest of bitter orange. Next to the tart lay a quartered fig draped with zest of bitter orange. This was a surprisingly satisfying dessert, considering its small size, and I savored every bite.
My partner opted for Sablé Breton, fraises et rhubarb. The waitress brought a wide-brim shallow bowl containing a tender shortbread biscuit (about 2.” in diameter, 1” thick), wedges of fresh strawberry, morsels of candied rhubarb, and a dollop of Chantilly perfumed with vanilla. It was a light, sweet finish to an excellent meal.
The waitress was friendly and helpful.
The bill for two, including two three-course menus, two glasses of champagne, and two glasses of wine, came to 90€.
Travelers to Paris who make the effort to come to this off-the-beaten-path part of Paris will be rewarded with a delicious meal based on traditional recipes from Britany. We advise travelers to take special care while descending the stairs into the cave, as the steps are narrow and uneven.
L’Auberge du Roi Gradlon
36, boulevard Arago
Metro Station: Glaci.re (Line 6) or Les Gobelins (Line 7)
Type of cuisine: Breton
Days & hours of operation: Fri to Tues noon – 2:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, Mastercard