Monday, November 21, 2011

Paris Part I - L'Epi Dupin

I am extremely behind on posts, but this next series of reviews consists of a short trip to Paris, not nearly enough time, but so be it. 

Our first lunch in Paris found us at a small restaurant called L'Epi Dupin. It's a small restaurant that is shielded by heavy curtains at the entrance to prevent the biting winds from entering every time someone enters. The menu can be found on several blackboards scattered throughout the restaurant (keep in mind it's only about twelve tables and a long tables for parties.)

Everything was in French of course so deciphering things was a little tricky, but our waiter spoke enough English to tell us that we had just ordered veal kidneys, we revised that mistake. I ordered the veloute de potimarron with a foi gras poêle and the cuise de canette fondante with fondue de blettes au condiment carotte, which when put into a translator is: Cream of pumpkin, faith gras, leg of duck melted, melted Swiss chard with carrot condiment. In short, pumpkin soup with fois gras and duck confit with Swiss chard. My girlfriend ordered the tartin d’endives caramélisee' au chèvre, sauce mielleuse à la coriandre and the porcelet marine "soja citron vert" with pommes paysannes: caramelized endive tart with a honey-coriander sauce to start and then pork and potatoes. 

After we had ordered we were greeted with an amuse of some sort of root vegetable soup with a root vegetable sorbet. The flavors were bright and vibrant, highlighted by the extreme change in temperatures between the ice cold sorbet and the hot soup. 

Hot potato, hot potato, who's got the cold sorbet?

My soup was quite rich, almost to the point that I couldn't finish it (I did though). There was a sizable lobe of fois in it that had been seared, but it had an odd texture almost like eating a quiche...still made for quite a heavy soup. The bits of toasted slivered almonds added good crunch to each bite, otherwise would have been a very one-note dish.

Big ole' hunk of fois

The tart was by far the best thing that we ordered. While the other dishes were good, they had some flaws here and there, but the tart was fantastic. The bitter endive was tempered by the sweet caramelization, but at the same time it was enhanced by where the caramel had been cooked just a little too long. The sauce that I had originally thought was some sort of reduction of vinegar was in fact a honey sauce, however it had a distinct bite to it so there must have been something else in it. In addition, the flaky pastry dough provided a nice base and sponge to sop up the delicious sauce.

Little dots are coriander seeds, which had a nice burst of flavor

The duck confit was perfect. The leg was crispy on the outside, yet it fell apart when I touched it with my fork. This would have been the best dish had it not been for some ghastly Swiss chard concoction underneath. As far as I could tell there was mustard, Swiss chard, and some sort of cheese. It had an unpleasant taste that I can only describe as a sweet cheesy mustard. 

Notice toxic yellow below duck...

My dining companion's pork was good, not great, but solid. It was reminiscent of Chinese barbeque pork. Perhaps they used five spice (not something I would generally associate with the normally tame French cooking), but whatever they used it definitely hinted towards Asia. The potatoes were nicely done and the sauce that coated both the pork and potatoes was quite good. I would have liked that sauce to be on the duck. 

Pork could have been cut a little better as some pieces were still connected to each other
Final Grade: B+, for €25,00 per person for two quite good courses, it was fairly priced. The food was good, clean, French cooking, but while each dish retained a certain rusticity it was certainly quite refined. 

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