La Table d’Eugène
Wed 12 Oct 2011
Lasagna foie gras, artichokes and cèpes.
La Table d’Eugène
18, rue Eugène Sue, in the 18th Arrondissement.
01 42 55 61 64. Lunch and dinner, Tues–Sat.
Everyone likes a hidden gem, a special address in an unlikely part of town, in this case the other side of Montmartre, a quiet pocket of streets between the tripist masses around Sacré Coeur and the raucous street scenes on the boulevard Barbès. This is a gastronomic no-man’s-land, so it is not surprising that La Table d’Eugène, a contemporary Paris bistro with ambitious cooking, has been widely praised.
A gem, yes. Hidden, not so much. I have to wonder if the local clientele appreciates the steady stream of foodie tripists that flows through the place since it was anointed worthy of a visit in a New York Times article last spring. The staff surely do, or at least pretend to; the energetic woman running the floor had a table of six Americans completely charmed.
With the arrival of our first courses, we three Americans were charmed, too. What was modestly billed as heirloom beets with an herb salad and goat cheese turned out to be sophisticated, visually stunning and uncommonly good. The chèvre was a sorbet, and the beets appeared as paper-thin, orange-striped slices; a concentrated, savory yellow mousse; and sweet, bloodred disks. A lasagna of fine noodles pressed with artichokes, foie gras and fresh cèpes was rich and earthy. A silky foie gras was dosed with Lillet, crowned with a grape gelée and served with a jewel of a roasted fig.
Our main courses were less inspiring. My monkfish was bland despite its wrapping of ham, the accompanying chervil root was pasty and green peppers overpowered the sauté of girolle mushrooms. A dueling duck dish was more successful, the red rare breast served with figs and quince, paired with an unctuous confit that was served en papillote but in a clear plastic bubble instead of parchment. (I have seen this at other places. https://girlsguidetotheworld.comle-bistro-des-gastronomes/ It is intended to be modern, I suppose, but to me it looks cheap and, worse, it crackles like a candy wrapper in a quiet movie theatre when you open it.) The champion, though, was a well-seasoned pork chop, cut thick, served pink and juicy, with a casserole of tiny truffled macaroni, cooked risotto style. Luxurious, contemporary comfort food.
The small room is cheerful, colorful vintage ads on the walls and shelves lined with bottles of absinthe that, along with the well-priced wines, come from Les Caves du Roy, just across the street.
Mont blanc with rum-raisin ice cream.
As for dessert, my pineapple carpaccio, served atop a disintegrating coconut dacquoise, was a misfire, but the mont blanc was a fine example of this classic chestnut dessert, its accompanying rum-raisin ice cream good and boozy. The chocolate and praline cream with frothed almond milk and a pastry twist was a hit, too.
In a nutshell: Ambitious, seasonal cooking and charming service make La Table d’Eugène a good reason to visit the other side of the 18th.
Price check: Two courses (lunch only), 27 euros. Three courses, 35 euros. Tasting menus at 55 and 75 euros. A la carte: starters, 12 euros; mains, 21 euros; desserts, 10 euros.
If La Table d’Eugène sounds good, you’ll also like Le Cotte Rôti. Read the review.
Le Cotte Rôti
1, rue de Cotte, in the 12th Arrondissement.
01 43 45 06 37. Lunch and dinner, Tues–Sat.
Les Caves du Roy
The New York Times