Posts Tagged ‘pigeon’

63 Degrees of Deliciousness

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

I, Jessica Davies, am a very lucky girl. For many reasons really, but on Saturday night my good fortune was highlighted, underlined, set off in fireworks, and served on a plate by a singing penguin in a suit. I was taken out for dinner at one of Manchester’s top restaurants, 63 Degrees, for delicious French food and wine. I felt like I had been transported back to Paris as I read the menu and saw all of my favourite words – foie gras, vin blanc, et chocolat. Trop bon.

Matt had tried to go to 63 Degrees when he had been in Manchester a few weeks ago, however he hadn’t been able to get a table. So some forward planning and gentle prodding from a nagging Virgo meant we scored a table at the ridiculously early time of 5.45pm. Thankfully it is dark in Manchester by 4 o’clock so stomaches start grumbling much earlier. Plus we were running late so by the time we were seated it was an acceptable dining hour.

The restaurant is run by the Moreau family with Eric, a very handsome and very French-looking chef, out the back working his magic in the kitchen. We were served by a young waiter who was… well… a frenchman. Confident and ready to tell his clientele who was in charge, he kept our wine glasses filled and he briefly allowed me the pleasure of speaking French to him. Briefly.

I talked Matt into sharing the foie gras entrée – two rounds of rich foie gras served with a crunchy brioche and fruity fig compote. It took me straight back to Christmas last year eating excessive amounts of foie gras and drinking cheap wine with friends in Paris – only this was the fancy-afied version and definitely not cheap. It was just delicious. I want more.

Continuing along this theme of my morally challenging meat-eating tendencies, over previous weeks I had been thinking about the delicious small birds (quails, pigeons, spatchcock) that I ate in France so when I saw pigeon on the menu I couldn’t go past it. The dainty roasted bird was served with cabbage and mushrooms with a creamy, buttery sauce. I would have liked the skin to be a bit crisper but the flavours were moreish and warming. Matt’s lamb was the winner though – juicy and tender, it melted in your mouth and was perfectly accompanied by a sweet potato mash.

Pigeon rôti avec petit chou

Pigeon rôti avec petit chou

Of course I was waiting anxiously for the dessert and was extremely concerned by the fact that there were TWO chocolate items on the menu. How was I supposed to choose? But then angels sang and glitter fell from the ceiling as Matt suggested we share the fondant chocolat et caramel and the poire chocolat. It was like winning the lottery twice.

The chocolate and caramel fondant was served with a chestnut cream and ice cream. The fondant oozed as it should and was deliciously dark but quite sweet due to the caramel. I would have preferred a plain chocolate fondant but I wasn’t about to send it back.

Fondant chocolat et caramel avec glace marron

Fondant chocolat et caramel avec glace marron

Then there was the chocolate sphere – served as a hard-cased chocolate ball, our smooth waiter friend poured a hot chocolate sauce over the top, melting the ball and revealing rounds of poached pear inside. What remained was essentially rich, dark chocolate soup with pieces of pear. HOLY MOLY.

Sphère chocolat avec poire

Sphère chocolat avec poire

I starred at it for awhile, unable to accept that I was allowed to eat it. And eat it I did – I think I may have defended the chocolate and pear delight with my spoon and not allowed Matt to have a very fair share… I ended the evening at 63 Degrees a very happy girl on an extreme chocolate high (my preferred state of being.)

I am very pleased to have found another restaurant in Manchester that delivers gastronomic experiences that take me to my happy place. I still have a long list of restaurants that I want to try and my experience at 63 Degrees has kicked my foodie taste-buds back into action. Thanks, Matt.

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.