Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chez Georges - Paris

Dinner was to be at Chez Georges, a Bistro on 1 Rue Du Mail. There are many Chez Georges so make sure you get to the correct one. To make matters worse, they have no website. This is one which was a favourite of Julia Child; consequently it has worked its way into all the American guides to eating in Paris. The Bistro is old fashioned very much like Josephine Chez Dumonet. Classic French food, not Haute Cuisine but certainly more Bourgeois that is home cooking. We had made a reservation from India a few weeks ago but were fairly worried. We spoke no French and they a little English so on arriving in Paris we asked our hotel to reconfirm the reservation. What they did was make another. Anyway in the end we had a table and consequently a meal.

As you enter there is a bar on the right and a few larger tables in the front, but further inside, tables of two all joined together. To get in the table is slid out, you get in and the table is slid back in. There is no space between tables. This is good if you have friendly dining partners. The down side, I leave you to guess!! As I said, this Bistro is a favourite with visiting Americans. They are by and large friendly. We had an older couple next to us. We got taking. Nothing of any significance. The Waitresses are all slim and old and work extremely hard. There were 3 of them along with one senior Captain and a barman. That was all.

When we entered the restaurant was probably 40% full, by the time we left it was jam packed with only locals. Despite being on the American tour circuit, the Bistro is totally French and the food un- ashamedly so.

While we were handed our menus a plate of Radish arrived. This is a classic Bistro starter, given free while you wait. No much to write about as you can imagine.

HRH the Queen of Kutch ordered her favourite Escargots de Bourgogne a classic, oddly enough dish from the Burgundy Region. This is snail prepared with loads of Parsley, garlic and butter. They are served sizzling hot on a specially made plate. The plate has indentations for the snail to sit in, sort of like an Idly maker but with very small Idly. She pronounced it as delicious. I ordered Jamon Persille which, again oddly enough is a dish from Burgundy. This is ham diced and set in a Jelly made with ham stock, wine and loads of Parsley. Since these were plated starters we got them served individually. On other tables guests had ordered Mushrooms a la Grecque or Duck Rillettes which are served family style in a huge bowl. You take as much as you want.

 Jamon Persille

Escargots de Bourgogne

Next up were our main courses. HRH the Queen of Kutch chose Sweetbreads with Morells and I got myself a Steak with a Cognac and Mustard Sauce. I had toyed with the idea of getting some Duck but settled on the steak. The Sweetbreads portion was massive. There was no way she or indeed me could have finished a dish that size. Being Autumn Morels and Truffles are in season. Eating fresh Morells is a treat and these were delicious. HRH the Queen of Kutch said her dish was delicious. My steak was good, the quality of meat in France is exceptionally high. I hope I can eat a piece that is not Fillet Mignion or Tenderloin, it is really quite a boring cut. Anyway, the Steak was good, the sauce tasty and the Frites crisp. What more could you want. All this was washed down with a decent bottle of Crozes Hermitage.

Steak with a Cognac and Mustard Sauce

Sweetbreads with Morells

For desert we had a pastry from Laudree in the fridge at the Hotel, so we did not want to eat something big. We got Prunes in Armagnac. This was served family style, a large bowl with stewed Prunes flavoured with bits of stewed Orange was served. This dish was crying for some Armagnac which was promptly ordered. Brilliant. A great and simple finish to a fine meal.

What I was intrigued about was why was it that in Chez Georges was there such a heavy influence of Burgundy food? This was also the case when we ate at Josephine "Chez Dumonet" Josephine Chez Dumonet, where I had the Beef Bourguignon, again a Burgundy dish. Is this because all Bistro cuisine has strong Burgundy influences? Is it because Burgundy food has become the cliché, defining category of French food for the uninitiated, much like Punjabi food means Indian food? This answer will have to be given by someone who knows much more about French Cuisine.

Once again a most enjoyable evening and a great meal. 

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