7.5 - Wow, Carte Blanche, 6, rue Lamartine in the 9th, 01.48.78.12.20, closed Saturday lunch and Sundays, far exceeded my expectations even after Demorand, Simon and Rubin had elevated them (the front man is ex-Gagnaire; the cook ex-Beauvilliers).
It’s one more terrific destination (along with Chez Jean + Georgette) in this former culinary waste-land north east of Notre Dame de Lorette.) It looks ordinary enough, but the ardoise suggests a bit of talent and some “stretch.” It has about six firsts, mains and desserts and 20 wines (running 21-60 E).
You get two dishes for 25 and three for 31 E. My French companion and I went for three and three, despite her reluctance to do dessert (she didn’t leave a smidgen).
The firsts we chose were unlike anything I’d seen before; a ring (called a declinasion) of slightly warmed celery stuff and chips of what (apple maybe) and microtomed raw scallops set on a bed of granny smiths and mangoes; followed by two spectacular dishes; confited pork, almost sausage-like, in a casserole of fall veggies and a rollatine of veal with veal kidney inside and “smoked” mashed potatoes; finished by a “moelleux” of caramel on top of chocolate and huge “bonbons” of rolled chocolate in a crusty wrap.
And the coffee was terrific. If you go, ignore the names, it’s a bit like l’Angl Opera, the names are just there to confuse you. I will give this place until Christmas until the dreaded “tourists” discover it and there it goes, prices, reservations and language – but until the guidebooks appear – enjoy it!
Oh yah, the bill, how does 86 E for two sound to you? (Boy, I’m going to get in trouble for this, but my meal the day before at the Meurice, while scoring at 8, of a langoustine/mussel soup a la Detourbe, an extra dish of scallops/shrimp with a fluffy mousse, St Pierre with lentils and a dessert of mango three ways, was fine, but nowhere near as interesting, imaginative, or challenging as here; and compared to 112 E for one at le M., the difference in the price/quality ratio of these two places is astounding).
*Originally published in November 2005
**Update November 2007: My pal Atar (the "awesome") and I ate there again today and it is holding up very well indeed. Not at a level of Ze but pretty darn close. And to be able to walk there during the strike and get out for under 100 E a couple is nifty.