April in Paris Wrapup - From Blech to Bravo

Back in Paris after my short swing through eastern Brittany, still dodging raindrops, but some catching up to do.  Fine eating is an integral part of life, but life is not all about eating, and indeed my recent Parisian cultural highlights bear mentioning, even if they entailed only the liquid variety of ingestion.  First there was the Ballet De L'Opera's homage to Jerome Robbins and a return of Mats Ek's Appartement.  The JR set may have been way too ballet retro for my own tastes, but the modern Appartement really hit the spot, especially the dances La Television, Marche des Aspirateurs, and Grand Pas de Deux, with the dancers accompanied onstage by he Fleshquartet.  Here's an idea, although in the video Alice Renavand (who I saw) is replaced by Sylvie Guillem.

Next up, I caught the rising star Sharon Van Etten at Point Ephemere.  If you've got to do, then you've got to do it, as expected, a terrific performance.  If you missed her and her band this time, she'll be back in Paris at La Maroquinerie on 24 May.

And now, on to the food.  Regular readers of this blog know I am a big fan of La Gazzetta, so it won't surprise you to hear that Co. and I had another terrific meal there, benefiting from Petter Nilsson's menu for the week of 26 April to 6 May.

What I like about Monsieur Nilsson is that he doesn't stop experimenting and creating - his 7-course meals are always inventive.  That means his dishes may include some misses, but mostly they are hits, including the Bouillie d'orties...(1st photo below) and the ravioles de carottes (2nd photo below).  Bravo.

29, rue de Cotte
75012 Paris
tel: 01 43 47 47 05   web: lagazzetta.fr 
Edging into May, despite this entry's pithy title, a reunion of sorts with The Moose, fresh in town from his worldly travels.  After the obligatory pit stop at that little bar across from the Verlain Hotel on rue St. Maur, heavy with Johnny Cash on the evening in question, we took the metro over to Le Marais and the little tanqueria (Mexican cantine) Candaleria, a few minutes walk from the Filles de Calvaire stop and the Cirque d'Hiver.  If Lefooding.com's weekly preferred restaurants link for the hip and wonderful local celebs is to be believed, Candaleria must be the place.  It was a bad sign when I peered through the restaurant's window and wondered where the restaurant was, because all I saw was a spatially-challenged version of a kebab carry-out, packed to the gills with the three or four stools at the counter taken, the two or three tables in the front filled with small groups of cute 20-somethings with no apparent intention to budge for the rest of the evening.  The rest of the place was occupied by diners standing with taco in hand.  The Moose quickly turned pale, but I lingered long enough to check out the chicken scratch on what apparently served as the menu on the wall and noticed that the tacos and tostados on view looked like the real deal.  Alas, another time.  Unseen from the rue de Saintonge location(but visible once you round the corner) is Candaleria's hidden, funky little lounge that specializes in varieties of tequilla, meaning I will most definitely be back.  And no, you can't grab your tacos from the front to eat in the lounge.

52 rue de Saintonge
75003 Paris  
 tel.: +33 (0) 1 42 74 41 28   web: http://www.candelariaparis.com/
On Moose's recommendation, we hied over to a Candaleria alternative just around the corner, another bar & restaurant Latino-American themed spot, Bodega Bay.  In the near empty dining room, absolutely vast by Candaleria standards, I made my way through a perfectly square seafood chimichanga Pacifico (12.50€), with a side order of gambas Santa Cruz (6.50€).  It only occurred to me the following day that the chimichanga was supposed to contain seafood.  In a nutshell, I can sum up the meal at Bodega Bay thusly: blech.  Not that I had any expectations - this was an 'I need food' situation, not a gastronomic exploration, but I should have known better as soon as I saw the two apparently Pakistani cooks in the kitchen.

116, rue Amelot
75011 Paris
tel: 01 43 55 83 77      web:   http://www.bodega-bay.fr/
No need to end on a sour note, I am happy to report.  Co. and I finally made a long-delayed return visit to Fabrique 4 where the really young couple Jade and Thibault hold court.  I've previously reviewed F4, so no need to rehash the details, just a couple quick observations.  The newly remodeled (at least since our last visit) restaurant is handsome and welcoming, once you get past the locals drinking, smoking, and chatting with Thibault.  Co. and I, aged codgers that we are, typically reserve during the early 8 pm hour.  By 9 pm the small bistro still was nearly empty and we rued another quality establishment falling on undeserved hard times.  Nonetheless, the bus must have pulled up at 9:30 pm, because couple after couple started entering for dinner.  The moral of this story is that F4 gets rocking late.  The food doesn't reach the quality standard set by La Gazzetta, but we couldn't complain about our dinner, which makes it a hat trick, this being our third straight satisfying visit.  And the dishes are copious.  You won't leave F4 hungry, I assure you.

What you see below, in order: the original maquereaux/maki, gaspacho (a highlight, with its healthy dollops of tourteau (crab), the ample bouillabaisse F4, vol au vent, and the homemade rhubarb/strawberry tartelette.  You'll have to check out the cheesecake on your own - you won't be disappointed.  With a Cahors '09 carafe and no menu deals, the bill for two three-course dinners, wine, and an espresso to finish up came to 122€.  F4 - a nice spot to add to your list.

17 rue Brochant
75017 Paris
tel: 01 58 59 06 47     web:  http://www.fabrique4.com/

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