Posts Tagged ‘bobo’

The Frenchie Experience

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Yesterday afternoon I discovered why people like Twitter. I had been dabbling with it for a few months now and was starting to see the benefits and then yesterday afternoon at 4.30pm I realised why it is the BEST THING EVER. I happened to spot a tweet (look at this lingo! I’m down with it.) from a restaurant in Paris that has grown its reputation to such an extent that you need to book a table a few weeks in advance. Frenchie is one of the many set formule restaurants in Paris that the BoBos and the expat-wannabe-BoBos adorrrrrrrrreeeee and will drop into sentences, such as “Last time when I was dining at Frenchie, it was DIVINE” or “I am free any day except the 16 March 2020 because I’m having dinner at Frenchie.” And so while it was on my list of restaurants to go to before I leave, I had decided the slightly elevated price and the expat-blog hype meant it wasn’t worth the effort. But then imagine my surprise when in a Twitter message less than 140 characters in length I discovered there was a table for two available that night at 19h. Oh. Hello.

The fact that I had seen this message in combination with my recent decision to ‘just follow the path life takes me on’ and that my foodie friend Jen and I were planning on meeting for half-priced cocktails at that exact time anyway, all seemed to come together and form a HUGE BLINKING SIGN THAT SCREAMED, “BOOK THE TABLE!” So after my usual umming and ahhing and indecision, an SMS confirmation of “YES.” from Jen made me pick up the phone and reserve la table pour deux. And who said getting a table at Frenchie was hard?

Looking across to Frenchie Wine Bar

Looking across to Frenchie Wine Bar

The restaurant is gorgeous – a wood, limestone, cozy design that is then replicated on the other side of the pedestrian street at Frenchie Wine Bar. The area around the restaurant isn’t much (the streets in this part of the second arrondissement are full of warehouse clothing stores and brothels…) and I’m not entirely sure why they chose to be there. But clearly it works – they are booked out for their two sittings per night at their restaurant and the wine bar opens at 7pm and a fists and elbows fight for a table.

The menu offers two entrées, two mains, two desserts (or cheese) for 45 Euros which is on the pricier side. But after doing a head count, the restaurant would only cover approximately 65 people per night, and there were at least five chefs in the kitchen. And the ingredients… oh yes. The food.

For entrée both Jen and I had smoked fera (that’s a fish apparently) with avocado and grapefruit. This dish was potentially the highlight of the night – who knew smoked fish could taste so good? I didn’t want to finish it because then the experience would be over.

Delicious and pretty!

Delicious and pretty!

For main I had pigeon which was served with red endives and beetroot and something cubed and crispy. It was a bit of a muddle of textures and flavours, and I couldn’t quite stomach the fact that the pigeon was really REALLY undercooked. It was essentially raw. Normally I wouldn’t be so squeamish about this as I do love a bit of blood in my meat, but having just gotten over a case of gastro, eating raw meat wasn’t so appetising. My stomach issues aside, I still think it should have been cooked more – there was a little bit of crisp pigeon which was amazingly good and I wished the whole piece had been like that. The sauce was nice and it was tasty but not the best thing I have ever eaten.

I'm not sure why the French use endives so much. They're good but not THAT good.

I’m not sure why the French use endives so much. They’re good but not THAT good.

And then came dessert. I had a brown sugar tart which was served with a caramelised apple gloop (it was as if they had caramelised apples, turned them into mush, and then pushed them through a sieve to form gloop. REALLY GOOD.) and ‘hay’ ice cream. This was amazing! The tart wasn’t too sweet and remarkably light with a super crunchy crust and creamy inside. The gloop was tangy and bright and then the ice cream was creamy and ‘hay flavoured’. I have no idea what made the ice cream ‘hay’ but it was really delicious so I don’t care. I’ll have more of it!

So good. So so good.

So good. So so good.

So a very enjoyable meal was had, including some tasty wine and prompt and amicable service. The down side was the table sitting behind me. Luckily I had my back to them otherwise they would have annoyed me more than they did. A foursome of late-fifties Americans – two couples I presume – whose voices pounded around the walls of the very small restaurant and stabbed like very sharp knives into our ears. With each bottle of wine they ordered, the louder and more obnoxious they became. The room was full of expats (so therefore generally noisier than the average French group) but the conversation topics and general intelligence of this particularly table made us, and I suspect the entire room, cringe. As we were leaving, Jen asked the eventually friendly waitress whether or not there were any French people dining in the restaurant or if it was entirely foreigners. “They are coming at 9.30 for the next sitting,” was the fantastically witty response. I left Frenchie laughing and very happy.

Coffee and Carrot Cake at Café Coutume

Monday, December 17th, 2012

There are many hip and cool hangouts for the BoBos of Paris and I like to follow along behind like a lost puppy trying to be as ‘down with it’ as them. Not going to happen. But one of the biggest BoBo hang outs is Café Coutume, a coffee, brunch and ‘Check-out-what-I’m-wearing’ joint located in the ooh-la-di-da seventh arrondissement, down the road from Le Bon Marché. As I walked to find the place, I went past Hermés and various other designer stores that I would be refused entry into, and dodged lots of little old ladies in fur coats buying their grandchildren matching Louis Vuitton slippers for Christmas. I felt somewhat out of place, but pretended to blend anyway.

I had been wanting to try Café Coutume for ages but it’s location on the other side of Paris meant it wasn’t really somewhere I could go and grab a quick coffee. I had heard and read many good things about it so took the opportunity to meet my friend, Jen there as she lives on that side of the river.

The café is reasonably large compared to other places in Paris, although it isn’t particularly well laid out and the tables are quite clunky and take up too much space. I ordered a long black and Jen had a noisette (a short black with a dob of milk foam on top) and we each had a piece of carrot cake. The coffee was good – it was rich and strong which is always a pleasant surprise in Paris. The cake wasn’t bad although I have had much better (I think we all know this to be true.)

Café Coutume

Coffee and carrot cake

While the coffee was good, I don’t plan on going back because:

  1. It was expensive
  2. It was snobby. Seriously snobby. I can handle BoBo arrogance and coolness, but there was a different level of snob at Coutume.

I think because I am used to the less-rich-scene of the tenth arrondissement, the seventh just oozed money. The staff weren’t particularly friendly and there was a strong rich-Parisian attitude that alienates you if you are an outsider or your Daddy isn’t the CEO of a bank. It is a great thing to watch though – I find these people highly entertaining with their Longchamp bags and depressive attitudes.

Speaking of Longchamp bags, a few weeks ago I was bored on the metro and decided to count the number of Longchamp bags I could see just in my section of the carriage. Over a ten minute journey I saw twelve. Wow. Let’s all spend excessive amounts of money on a particularly unattractive handbag that every other woman owns. Congratulations, Longchamp.

Café Coutume
47 Rue de Babylon
Paris, 7eme

Boating on the Canal

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Something that I love about Parisians is despite their snooty attitudes, strict style guides and general up-turned-nose at anything seemingly ‘different’, they still manage to celebrate strange, somewhat banal things with vigour and passion. Yesterday delivered a prime example of when I had to stop, shake my head and laugh at the ridiculous contradictions that were appearing before my eyes.

Tom and I went for a walk along the canal, heading to a show for regional produce from Provence. Along the way, we passed Point Ephémère – a hip and happening bar/club/restaurant full of bobo-Parisians hanging out and being seen. This all seemed normal except for the wooden boat floating in the canal, the folk music and the number of people dressed up in traditional costume. It was the Festival of Estonia (apparently) and for some reason they had set up a small exhibition with wood turning, music and general information about Estonia and viking boats for those who were interested.

Estonia festival

An impressive banner.

Tom and I joined the Bobos for a drink and as we sat by the canal, a group of well dress Parisians (most of them with children) jumped into the viking boat and took it for a spin along the canal while a ye-olde-Estonian played a horn-like instrument in the back.

The juxtaposition of snooty French people not daring to do anything out of the ordinary, and the fact that there was now a viking boat replica being paddled around with a group of ultra serious Parisians was really too much. I just sat and stared and wondered how on earth this could be happening and why it is ok for these Parisians to do something that dorky and yet me wearing a slightly old jumper is just SO INAPPROPRIATE.

It was fantastically entertaining. I also particularly liked the fact that kids were being allowed to use the wood turning machine with no eye protection and were getting bits of saw dust flung straight into their faces. What is health and safety?

Estonia Festival

Wood working at its best.