What is it with French and food? I am even hesitant to call many of the things I consumed on this trip “food,” simply because they do way beyond what food is intended to do – to nourish. The dining experiences in Paris do not only nourish, but they inspire, they motivate, and they move you, like a good book or an act of kindness. It’s definitely an art, a beautiful art, comparable to anything you find inside the Louvre.
La Ferrandaise is a restaurant Maya found for us in the book, Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to City’s 102 Best Restaurants, which, by the way, is a great book if you are looking for great, neighborhood establishments (or just good food writing). This place was a bulls-eye! It was exactly the kind of food and the experience that we were looking for. I don’t blame author Alexander Lobrano for being “… half reluctant to share the name of this excellent bistro, which has the vital ballast of a loyal following of diverse Parisian regulars – it’s their exigence that keeps the kitchen on course and the atmosphere quite wonderfully local.”
We didn’t make a reservation but we got lucky to be seated right away. We sat in the upstairs table, next to a lively foursome – three from U.S. and one French native who seemed to be showing them around town. As soon as we were seated and ordered a glass of wine, the service staff brought a cauliflower and leek soup. The soup, drizzled with what tasted like truffle oil, was rich, creamy and absolutely decadent. It was so good, I almost put my finger in the cup to wipe around the side! I know, that wouldn’t be very French.
I wasn’t particularly hungry that night but the only things I saw on the menu were three-course meals. Knowing that French food come in smaller portions, I figured I would be okay, even with a dessert. And boy, am I glad I did!
To start, I ordered julienned fish with a spicy tomato compote. The Parmesan chips on top of the tomato sauce were crisp and perfectly salty, and went perfectly with the tangy, vinegary fish. And I loved the level of attention — flower-shaped carrots!
Maya ordered the guinea fowl, hazelnut and apricot terrine. For me, terrine — a loaf, very similar to pate, made from mixtures of ground and lean meat emulsified with fat — represents so many things that make French cuisine extraordinary. The complex flavors, as well as beautiful presentation makes this dish bar none.
For the main course, Maya and I both ordered veal, but mine was a casserole (Casserole of “Ferrandaise” veal with mushroom and fennel that came in an individual dutch oven.
And looked like this when served on a plate.
And hers was Pieces of “Ferrandaise” veal with a fondue of leeks, and a Mikado Beetroots.
We both ended up ordering the same thing for dessert – poached pear with a side of sage sorbet. The pear stood on top of the shortbread-type cookie and drizzled with luscious chocolate syrup.
The dining experience at La Ferrandaise was unquestionably the best one I had in Paris. The food, the ambiance, the service is absolutely world class here. It reminded me a lot of my favorite restaurants in Portland, Oregon, called Palye’s Place, especially with the usage of locally grown produces. I would go back to Paris again just to take its wonderful seasonal offerings!
8 rue du Vaugirard (6th Arrondissement)