6.0 (but really unique) La Maison David, 6, rue des Ecouffes in the 4th, 01.42.78.15.76, closed Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, open other days 1-3 PM and at night for private parties of up to 8, is one-of (I refuse to write one-off, it's not "off" it's "of"); the closest I can come to explaining what it's like is to say that it's sort of a cross between standing at Yves Camdeborde's L'Avant-Comptoir at Le Comptoir du Relais and sitting on a stool at DB (Dominique Bouchet's) counter.
Backstory: How I wound up standing for two hours eating kosher meat and drinking Israeli wine and loving every moment of it. Well, like everyone else, I read Le Fooding this week and liked the sound of a place that was a butcher-shop, charcuterie-making-place and deli all wrapped up into one and open for Sunday lunch. Louis Daboussy's review said one ate at the deli counter itself and even showed a photo but also said "reservation imperative au dejeuner;" hummm - need a rez to stand?
OK. I arrive and my dining partner meets me on the street chock-full of holiday (Purim) folks; she's already been inside, chatted up the chef/butcher/charcuterie-maker's wife, says it's funny, charming but like nowhere else we've ever eaten. Did I "still want to go?" Why not?
Now get the scene. A tiny place, a short plexiglass counter with all sorts of meats and herring and gravlax, no room to stand even two-deep, 4-5 spots on which to set a piece of coldcut, a glass of wine or a plate; Mr the omni-potentate (double boarded in charcuterie-making (a Master, warranting a red not blue sign, in the window) and butchery (Artisan)) working the counter, grinder and slicer and Mrs the chat'emup hostess and wine/drinks selector/provider working at the end.
Menu simple: 6 types of charcuterie (from Lodz to Krakow), three choices of meat (2 cooked and 1 tartare) and a dessert of the day (today fresh strawberries).
Madame orders the Lodz tongue and I the Pikel and smoked Pastrami - "How did I want it?" "European cold or American warm?" "They're totally different tasting." "Hummmm" "1/2 and 1/2." "OK."
Now I've left out an essential to this tale; before during and after serving(s), he's slicing, spooning and dishing up stuff for the 4-6 folks at the counter, announcing each from the pictured coarsely chopped chicken-liver (like I've never had so good at any bar mitzvah), goose rillettes and slices of green and black pepper, dry and moist sausage. The latter, ten minutes after I stopped eating, suddenly kicked in and I said, "Wait a minute, what was that sausage with black pepper, suddenly it took off?" And M. Kalifa smiles and says, "I watched your face when you ate it and it didn't move - it takes that long for the taste to arrive, doesn't it?"
We spend a long time discussing what to have as our main(s) and then, when the talkative Mrs convinced us both to have the entrecote, Mr hauls two slabs out of the display case and says to me - "Which one Mr. Talbott?" (Not adding "wise guy" - thanks God.) I point/say "the one with more fat." "Bingo." Correct answer.
"I'll cook it like you've never had before." And indeed it was. Simple, tasty, melt in your mouth although as he explained, when it's cooked so blue, it requires a butcher's knife to cut, which he eagerly provided me.
At this point, it's only the two of us dining and Mr and Mrs Kalifa. Looking me straight in the eyes he says "So now, Mr. Talbott, what grade do you give the beef." No fudging here, no evasion, no lying. "A 7-8," say I. "Ah, ha," he replies,"it's the most expensive cut I've got, for a 10, I'd have to order the Japanese/Australian Kobe-type stuff that costs 1000E/kilo, minimum purchase 10 kilos." Ouch, luckily I'm not fond of Kobe beef.
Dessert, no, but my partner had a mint tea and with two 1/2 bottles of reasonably priced wine (the full ones were beyond our price point but they're ordering in new stuff since Le Fooding, David Sax's book and website "Save the Deli" and Alain Ducasse have all publicized him), all the snacking and all the above plus a few slices of zucchini, potato, lettuce and onion relish cost all of 79.90 E a couple.
Go? If you're two, don't mind standing, chatting and stuffing yourself with great meat - be my guest!