And the Winners Are - Le Palmarès Fooding 2010

Le Palmarès - 'winners,' or in more common French usage, the Oscars, have just been awarded to the creme de la creme of the 2010 Paris and beyond restaurant scene by, producers of an informative website and even better restaurant guide (mentioned in my last installment). Yes, it does seem rather early, and this is probably the first 'top whatever' list to appear for 2010, but, well...forget it, Jake, this is France. I have no idea what criteria the list is based on, or the process by which winners are chosen, but that doesn't mean my interest is not piqued for some new ideas for future meals, and of course, subsequent reviews. Two have been on my radar for some time: Spring (last year's big news and this year's big relocation) and La Tête dans les olives. A lot of buzz for both. And good to see another top spot around Parmentier, although I'm not so sure I'm willing to try a restaurant on the basis of best decor alone.

So here they are, Le Palmarès Fooding 2010. Let's just hope they don't turn out to be red herrings.

FOODING 2010 du Meilleur Petit Luxe
Aux Deux Amis, Paris

FOODING 2010 du Meilleur Bistrot d’Auteur
Rino, Paris

FOODING d’Honneur 2010
Bertrand Larcher
Breizh Café, Paris
La Table Breizh Café, Cancale

FOODING 2010 de la Meilleure Auberge
L’Auberge, Audierne

FOODING 2010 du Meilleur Décor
Rem Koolhaas et Clément Blanchet
Le Dauphin, 131 avenue Parmentier, Paris 11e

FOODING 2010 de la Meilleure Table d’Hôte
La Tête dans les olives, Paris

FOODING 2010 de la Meilleure Cave à Manger
Les Papilles Insolites, Pau

FOODING 2010 du Meilleur Agit’Popote
Spring, Paris

Links to each of these venues at website.

Lilane - Gracious

In his book The Anatomy of Buzz, Emmanuel Rosen estimates that 27% of consumers go to a restaurant because of recommendations from a friend, and the more expensive the restaurant, the more important the recommendations. As I've previously written, I virtually never frequent a restaurant for a serious meal without first having heard or read something positive about it. Paris may be a capital for fine dining, but there are also a lot of dumps. Sometimes, though, all it takes is a broken carrying bag. For the second time in a month, when the strap broke on my leather bag, I went off to L'Epee de Cuir in the 5th arrondissement for a repair. This time, I headed back to the metro via a back road and came upon Restaurant Lilane, a gracious-
looking venue on none other that rue Gracieuse, almost in the shadow of the Great Mosque of Paris (see photo). A few days later, the name had stayed stuck, and so I did some online investigating. Lilane is largely under the radar, perhaps with the exception of the wonderful 2010 Fooding guide (the 2011 guide is promised for Nov. 18), but everything I read was favorable, with the word 'raffine' appearing more than once. So off Co. and I went.

What can I say but that Lilane was a nice little discovery. Warm welcome, subdued lighting, modern brown decor, unpretentious. The place hadn't yet filled up so we were offered our choice of three small round tables, and opted for the more isolated one where those two guys are sitting (photo graciously lifted from the Lilane website). 'Why Lilane?' I inquired to our gracious hostess (see photo) . The answer, she explained, is that the name is a compromise (she is Leila, the chef is Stéphane Guilnitude: get it?).

We started off on good fooding with a satiny smooth velouté de pomme de terre amuse bouche, followed by two 3-course menus more than reasonable priced at 32€ a pop. Our entrees consisted of an apparent Lilane specialty, Ravioles de langoustines, tombée de poireaux en feuilleté, fully living up to their reputation, but the ravioles could have been served hotter. The other entree, a Fricasse d'escargots aux legume oublies was nicely prepared, with a copious helping of succulent snails. For the main plates, I opted for the fish, Filet de bar fricassee de legumes et tomate seche, while Co. went for the plat du jour, a tasty Foie gras de canard poêlé, artichauts barigoule, which carried a 3€ supplement. For dessert, Co. opted for one of her faves, the souffle au grand marinier; I went the chocolate route with a fine barreau chocolate noir et marron glacé. I could not complain. What stood out during the meal for me was how well-prepared was the fish. I look forward to trying out some other fish plates on subsequent visits. Before I forget, this was all washed down with a bottle of Menetou-Salon, Jean Teiller 2006 (26€), a tasty Loire. Total for the two menus (+ supplement), wine, and one espresso came to 95.50€.

So now the word is out, and I'm kind of surprised is hasn't been already. Lilane may not be Michelin level gourmet cuisine, but that doesn't seem to be the point. Definitely worth checking out.

8 rue Gracieuse
75005 Paris
tel: 01 45 87 90 68
closed: Sat. lunch, Sunday & Monday

P.S. L'Epee de Cuir, one of the few places I know in Paris that repairs airport damaged luggage, charged me twice for the same repair in the span of one month, and the proprieter's idea of customer service is a sneer accompanied by the mantra, 'Show me the money!' Not very gracious, indeed. How's that for some word of mouth?

P.P.S. The Great Mosque of Paris (La Grande Mosquée de Paris, 39 rue Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire) has a nice little cafe/tea room, and though I've never tried it, a small restaurant. More information at their site.
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