Anyone who knows the language of French children can’t help but smile when they hear the name of the restaurant Chez Prout. “Prout” is kids’ cute way of making a farting sound, guaranteed to raise a smile every time, exactly the owners’ motivation for choosing the name. “We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously,” one of them told me.
The restaurant is attractive, with a variety of seating arrangements, modern chandeliers and colorful cushions (no, not whoopee cushions). The music verged on being too loud but was acceptable (we noticed that foam was attached to the underside of the tables, presumably to absorb the sound).
This is yet another restaurant serving small, shareable plates, all the rage in Paris for a number of years now. I love tasting lots of different dishes, but it’s sometimes dissatisfying to have only one or two bites of a dish, especially the ones you really like.
Since there were four of us, each dish (we started out by ordering two each) disappeared very quickly. We started out with a naan filled with gorgonzola instead of the usual Vache Qui Rit, a strange but tasty French-Indian hybrid served in Indian restaurants here. The gorgonzola worked nicely.
With it, we had a pleasantly creamy and spicy baba ganoush.
The next dish – beets with haddock, fish eggs and lemon – was one of our favorites. The sweetish flavor of the beets was a perfect counterpoint to the fish flavors, and the roe brightened the whole dish.
We also enjoyed the poulpe (octopus) with aioli. Lightly cooked to perfect tenderness, it was complemented by yellow carrots, endive, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
The mullet ceviche came with green curry sauce and wonderful little puffed-rice chips.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the risotto with fennel was al dente (rare in a restaurant risotto) and full of subtle flavors.
We thought the butternut squash with goat cheese and rosemary, which was served cold (on purpose), would have been better hot, but it was still quite tasty.
The entrecôte, hands-down the star of the meal, was so tender and flavorful, with a great, slightly spicy jus, that we quickly asked for a second order.
The shared desserts were a Paris-Brest (donut-shaped chou pastry filled was cream) and pain perdu (French toast). The former was tasty, but the four forks couldn’t stay away from the luscious French toast with salted-butter caramel sauce.
I will keep a discreet silence about the aftereffects of this delightful meal for fear of causing any children in the room to burst into gales of laughter. Let’s just say the name is not necessarily predictive.