Le Pantruche in the 9th, coordinates given before, where I ate just about a year ago and said that "My friends all love the place, the service is terrific, the prices right and the setting superb, but I will not be back, regretfully." So why did I return? Because, everyone in the food world, including Le Fooding, Figarosope and maybe Pudlo, said it was the best in Paris and I'd been touted onto it by an old friend. Ergo, go with him and see who's right. (But more about that later.)
The "menu" after all the brouhaha, has crept up a bit, from 17 € for 2 dishes and 32 € for three to 18 € and 34 € but no matter. My friend and I also crept in, he obviously known, me seemingly unknown (but then why did they ask after we'd finished what I really thought of my meal yesterday at Coq Rico? Hummmm. Mark Zuckerberg is really selling our likes, hits and locations). They graciously provided us an amuse bouche of Jerusalem artichoke soup with snappy truffle bits. Delicious, even for me a truffle ignoramus (but more about that later.)
Our firsts were an egg with lentils and toast with moelle - pretty good - and a watercress soup with chopped cold oysters - no better, no worse than a year ago's. So far, our competition is a draw.
OK, the main round. He had a huge slice of duck, perfectly cooked rosé with carrots sliced whole and I had sweetbreads, undercooked on the inside, crisp on the outside with carrots cut in half; both were first rate and had great sauces. Knock-out his side.
He had the Pavlova, which consisted of a meringue base, with chopped grapefruit and a taragon (wow?) ice cream; I had a Grand Marnier souffle with caramel sauce - which he declared was overkill and Angelo Dundee (bless his soul) would have lodged a complaint about - but I thought was inspired, although I'll give my partner credit, caramel does trump Grand Marnier, but hey.
The bill, ah that's complicated; because he's a celebrity well known to the house, they were pouring wine and giving out coffee as if there was no tomorrow; so lets just say that with three dishes each and a bottle of wine, but no coffee (offered), bottled water and the amuse (offered) and the best crusted bread of 2012, a bill would be about 100 E.
Go back? I gotta eat my words, my hat and my pride - one year ago I said anti General McArthuresque "I will not be back," but I will.