L’Entetee and Georges: A Tale of Two Cities

March 7, 2009

This week I’m blogging on Paris restaurants for the NY Times “T Style” section. My first post was on how I find mid-range dining to be vastly better in Paris than in New York. Dinner in Paris last night and tonight underlined, however, that the Paris scene is still pre- and post-recession. Let me explain.

Last night I went to dinner at Georges, the Costes brothers restaurant on top of the Centre Pompidou with a good friend. I hadn’t been in ages, since it’s not the type of Paris restaurant I enjoy. To wit, my priority is always good food, and charming service and a cosy setting help, too. Anyway, up the escalators to Georges we road, and while I was impressed all over again by the stunning view from the top of the museum, and also noted that the service was more attentive and friendlier than it had been in a longtime, I was stunned by the menu and the prices. Good grief! The menu had hardly changed a jot since the last time I was here, maybe four years ago, but the prices remain stratospheric. Decent though it was, my “Terrine luxe de confit de canard” wasn’t worth 20 Euros by a long stretch–the luxe being two tiny bits of foie gras in a middling portion of duck terrine. Judy’s Nems (deep-fried Vietnamese spring rolls) were decent enough, but again, not for 16 Euros! Next, I had a Costes classic, an “Aller-Retour,” chopped steak with a log-cabin of fries and a small salad of herbs. To be fair, it was good–perfectly cooked, delicious meat, excellent fries, but for 28 Euros?!? More egregious was Judy’s “Paillard de Poulet Dore Minute, Sauce Curry et Chutney”–a slender piece of chicken with two ink pots of sauce for a whopping 26 Euros. Much as we enjoyed the view, and a very good Saint Joseph, there’s absolutely no way either of us would set fooot in this place again unless we won the lottery.

Crossing the Seine tonight to celebrate Judy’s birthday, we booked at L’Entetee, a tiny little bistro just off the delightful rue Daguerre (it’s one of the most underrated market streets in Paris, and everytime I walk its length, I think, “I could live here”). With only twenty covers, L’Entetee was reeling a bit from its new “Bib Gourmande” label in the 2009 Paris Michelin Guide. Still, this place was a charmer from the moment I stepped through the door. I sipped a delicious white Menetou-Salon for 6 Euros a glass while waiting for the birthday girl and Bruno, and when they finally showed up, we all agreed that we’d happily eat the entire menu. To wit, everything appealed. B and J were rather letdown by their asparagus (3 spindly spears) wrapped in bacon, but I very much enjoyed my “tatin d’endives au chevre,” although Francois Pasteau’s version at L’Epi Dupin is better. Next, my grilled scallops came in an orange “caramel” with a side of ratte potatoes and broccoli, Judy had an excellent filet of sea bass with terrific pistou sauce, and Bruno, a pot au feu de canard. Aces for the main courses, and aces for the fine Crozes Hermitage at 30 Euros a bottle. Desserts were outstanding (for a bistro), too–“tatin de pommes” with a salted caramel sauce, sublime date mousse with a briliant little salad of sugared herbs (mostly coriander), strawberry soup with basil-perfumed whipped cream, and (we were curious) a very pleasant chocolate creme brulee au romarin (rosemary). Despite a hitch or two in this meal, it was absolutely delightful, and the three of us dined for 2/3rds of what Judy and I had spent at Georges the night before. I’ll happily go back to L’Entetee, but the next time I want to relish the marvelous view from the top of the Centre Pompidou, I’ll sit outside on the roof-top terrace for a coffee.

L’Entetee, 4 rue Danville, 14th, Tel. 01-40-47-56-81. Metro: Denfert-Rochereau.