The chef and staff know us and so you'll have to factor that into my rave. As a result of his knowing that we only ate out at lunch, he presented us with both the lunch (22 E for two mind you) and evening (38 E) menus with forced choices and said we could choose what we wanted. So indeed we chose one of each as we were sipping a glass of fine offered white St Joseph (which my birdbrain recalls, the 2-volume Gourmet Cook Books, recommended to accompany pork dishes) - but alone or with his spicy nummies that he mixes himself, it was terrific.
Starters: The chef called Colette’s the Eiffel Tower of warm Tiger shrimp on top of celery remoulade and a thick beet "soup" which was almost a mousse - both of which had delightful burst of sesame seeds. I had perfectly zippy (but because of Asian spices not Worcester or Tobasco sauces) thick-cut beef tartare on a tartine.
Then Colette had a large bowl of vermicelli with crevettes and nems made like Bun Ton, aka Huế Viet namese bò bún (you know what that is even though I, who served in Viet Nam, didn't) - yummy. And I had the magret of duck "lacrima" style (didn't know that one either) with perfumed rice and wok'd veggies, equally yummy.
For desserts, Colette had the quince crumble and I the fresh fruits (melon, grapes and raisins,) both in as light as air sauce. For an after-dinner treat, the recently married and shiny-ringed chef tested us out with a dish inspired by his wife's love of Valrhona chocolate and zambiglione/sabayon; another Wow.
With Illy coffee, excellent bread, a nice Chiroubles and great service our bill was 64 E (with the non Twofer aka 2-For-1) it would have been 86 E.
Backstory: This week being Tous Au Restaurant week, I got online 10 AM Paris time from Paris when reservations opened and the server or site or whatever immediately crashed; so I kept going back all day; at the end I was able to make 0 reservations on line, 2 by telephone, 1 outside the promotion's hours and 1 (Rech) blocked me totally, implying lunches and dinners for the week were fully booked (which my uber-blogger-boss figured out was inaccurate): my conclusion, TAR is not yet ready for cyber-primetime.
In any case, there were lots of non-TAR places Colette hankered to go to and we chose Le Clarisse where we've eaten very well indeed, in the past. Today it was pretty full but not jammed at lunch and being a block from the American University, English was spoken and on the menu (best translation on the menu, croustillant = flapy.) Our amuse bouche was a wonderful juxtapositioned potato and herb soup and a toastlette with a sardine mousse.
Our guest, Professeur D., chose to have the chestnut soup with foie gras; Colette had a salmon tartare with mango (?, but it worked), coriander and vinegar (what a combo and she never, ever, orders salmon tartare); and I had the winningest among three winners, a (3-kinded) wild mushroom stew with a pine seed emulsion.
There being but two mains on the 35 E 3-course (28 E 2-course) "menu"; Colette had an exellent piece of cod with a marvellous crisp skin, celery rabe puree and chip-like slices of lotus root and Mme. the Prof and I the confited duck wrapped in flapy pastry.
For pre-dessert, the chef, embarrassed by the falling-in of the chocolate moelleux the ladies had ordered, sent in three scoops of green tea ice cream (which was also on the "menu") and then the chocky delights and my figs in Merlot with ice cream arrived and all was well in the world.
(Coda: French chefs, ever-seeking new ideas, spices and essences, go to the Meccas of Rosas, Modena and Copenhagen, when they could well look in their own backyards for the Japanese and American chefs now cooking here, who bring a lot of inspiration to the table.)
Restaurant Week 3rd experience. When the TAR site opened, I was instructed to call L'Ami Jean directly, which I did - no dice in securing a lunch rez. So I called on my Pal J., well known to the house and Jegu and he snagged me one, but no twofer, those were only available after 10:30 PM. So why do they bother to participate in the twofer promotion? Probably as a favor to Alain Ducasse, TAR's titular head or Laurent Plantier, his enterprise's Directeur General.
For a finale, I had the creamy sauce over citrus sections with pistachio ice cream, that Colette shared a bit of, along with their most tasty macaroons.
Oh my, shame and embarrassment and dishonor fall on my head. Day 4, a Sunday, of Tous au Restaurant week, there weren't a lot of choices (stop apologizing), and we'd not been to Le Grand B since the Freres Blanc revamped it earlier this year to mild acclaim as Paris's (and perhaps the world's) biggest rotisserie (please stop apologizing), and I had memories of that rotisserie place a few meters away that served those great pommes soufflés (alright already), and at the time it sounded like a good idea - sitting on the Blvd des Italiens in the 80 degree sun watching children of all nations parading by (done confession). But I went with my eyes wide shut knowing how the bros had ruined Charlot, Le Procope, Le Flora Danica, Le Sud, La Fermette Marbeuf, Au Pied de Cochon, l’Alsace, Chez Jenny, Le Brasserie Lorraine and Chez Clement (well, they could hardly ruin a ruin).
To start, it is a wonderfully-sited, wonderfully-embellished, wonderfully-decked out red-type estab along the Blvd des Italiens. They have nice white and red wines by the carafe that are good and inexpensive and we started with a half liter of Vin de Pays d'Oc with spectacular spicy rilettes of confited roast chicken and for dessert had a blow-your-mind-out roasted 1/2 a banana with ice cream and caramel sauce.
Go? Heh, heh, me thinks the the Fratelli Blanco are the bacio della morte for a restaurant.