Archive for April, 2012
Le Comptoir du Relais may be the hottest reservation in Paris these days. Attached to the Relais St Germain hotel, in the 6th arrondisement, renowned Chef Yves Camdeborde (think la Régalade circa 1992) opened this quaint spot in 2005. He bought the entire 17th century hotel and created a 20 seat restaurant serving up classic bistro cuisine. While dinner reservations may be hard to come by, lunch is no reservations, first come first served. It’s got a unique feel to it that distinguishes itself from the plethora of Parisian bistros nearby. Chef Camdeborde takes traditional French food and adds a transformative element whether it be a garnish for a what otherwise would have been a standard bouillabaisse, or even an unthinkable thickening agent in his lentil soup that creates a flavor you most likely have not encountered before. It’s a casual brasserie that features many innovative dishes you’ll have a hard time finding elsewhere. What you will find, rest assured, is a queue down the sidewalk but it’s definitely worth the wait.
I dined here on a cold winter day in November, outside, nonetheless, under heat lamps and blankets. The blankets were a nice touch that you get in Europe and don’t find in the US. Appetizer highlights range from the classic Croque Monsieur, a variety of meats, terrines, and cheeses, and my favorite, the carpaccio of tete de veau. The rich slices of almost gelatinous veal literally melt in your mouth. The dish is complimented by crisp and perfectly dressed hearts of romaine, thus creating a perfect harmony.
My favorite main course was the hearty “joues de boeuf”, or beef cheeks, served in a warm bowl of little elbow macaroni pasta, carrot, and purple kettle chips giving it that added crunch.
Another stellar main course dish is the marinated Coquilles Saint Jacques (scallops), served beautifully in the shell with greens and a toasted crisp.