While I wait for my life (ie, my television and internet) to return to normal….(although I’d be happy if they’d just return. period)…I left my perch in the Wi-Fi equipped Place des Vosges long enough to have a really nice dinner at Mon Vieil Ami, that I thought I’d recount. I was going stir-crazy sitting at home and was so bored that I almost had to work. Imagine that!
But since I procrastinated enough, which included scrubbing the knobs on my washing machine (yes, really…) and the ones on the oven too, then tackling a batch of ice cream using some leftover mascarpone in my fridge that had one day left on it, I am back in the Place des Vosges once again, sans chocolat chaud, but connected.
What more could a guy want? Yikes…now that’s a loaded question.
I couldn’t wait for my internet connection to return to normal, so I thought I’d offer forth a short, quick write-up of a great dinner I had last night. And judging from your very kind comments, I know 98% of you are sympathetic to my situation—and perhaps the other 2% are meanies, content to laugh at others’ misfortune. So excuse any errors, mis-whatevers, and typos while the chill slowly creeps into my fingers here on this cold park bench. And since I’m sitting, need I say where else the cold is creeping into? Perhaps when I get home I’ll take a chocolat chaud sitz-bath.
With marshmallows, thank you ver much.
(ha!…my first typo…)
My dining companion hier soir from Los Angeles was missing vegetables after eating too many rich meals while in Paris, so she was thrilled with the menu offered at Mon Vieil Ami. My first course was roasted beets from the gardens of Joël Thiebaut (sp?…I’ll correct the spelling later.) In the huge terrine buried amongst the ruby-red and golden beets were four well-caramelized, succulent, sweet-sour chicken wings, as well as some raw beets that had been shaved into ribbons, added for good measure. Why not?
We both ordered the same entrée, which I love, since I hate to share.
Each plate came with four nicely-seared scallops and braised Belgian endive with a touch of lardons, or smoky belly bacon. Each was just singed slightly, giving the edges a nice chewiness, and the frothy citrus zest vinaigrette added a nice note of tanginess that surrounded it all.
En suite, I ordered the Île-Flottante, a dessert which I am perhaps the only die-hard fan of. A white-white poached meringue rested high atop a mound of not-as-advertised caramelized apples: They were a bit pale, but delicious all the same. The dessert was doused tableside with crème anglaise and I got a nice view of the waiters elbow, which was very attractive (How do those French guys keep their elbows in such good shape?) My friend ordered the Chestnut Ice Cream and Raspberry Sorbet comme un Vacherin, which was meant to be similar to the famed meringue and ice cream combo. But the meringues were a bit too hard and she timidly tried to poke them into pieces, but was unsuccessful.
So I grabbed a fork and really let ‘em have it, which did the trick. I didn’t go through 20+ years of martial arts training for nothing (except for a pair of messed-up knees and a funny story about trying to take a sword through Canadian customs.) Not a bad dessert, but when I saw the slick, über-thin tarte au chocolat that the neighboring table got, served simply with absolutely no adornment. And it didn’t look like it needed anything—it was just perfect in it’s dark chocolate & buttery crust simplicity. I wished I’d ordered that.
We had a bottle of goofy Sancerre that the waiter described as ‘petrolisé‘ (darn spelling again…) which we interpreted as being ‘like petrol’, although I’m sure that’s not right. But on second thought, maybe it was, since the wine had a peculiar aftertaste that didn’t win me over.
Still, this is one of the best places to eat in Paris.
And the 41€ prix-fixe dinner, with about five options in each category (and none of those annoying surcharges) is a bargain for the top-notch quality of the cooking and the ingredients used, and the servers were exceptionally nice and gracious. You will hear a lot of English spoken amongst the diners, but there’s a decent mix of other languages in the room as well. It’s one of the few places on the touristy Ile-St. Louis that’s worth a visit (reservations are advised.) And it’s a great place for elbow-watching too. If you’re into that kind of thing.
Mon Vieil Ami
69, rue St.Louis-en-Île
Tél: 01 40 46 01 35
UPDATE: I’ve recently heard some reports of less-than-stellar service at Mon Vieil Ami. While I haven’t experienced that first hand, thankfully, it was from reliable sources. So while restaurants can vary from day to day, that’s just a heads-up. -dl