Well-Bred Critic’s Choice
February 15, 2006; updated May 23, 2008
French restaurant critics have a new chouchou. La Ferrandaise, which opened last September, has already been named restaurant of the year 2006 by Claude Lebey’s “Le Petit Lebey 2006 des Bistrots Parisiens.”
Owner Gilles Lamiot has created a €30 fixed-price menu that would be hard to beat, but before diners even get started on it, they are offered a few extras to whet their appetite: a bowl of super-fresh bulots (whelks) accompanied by homemade mayonnaise to keep them occupied while they peruse the menu, followed by a small bowl of delicious cream of chestnut soup with croutons and a touch of bacon.
On the list of starters were an interesting terrine of layered foie gras and pressed pork, served with a small green salad; homemade ravioli stuffed with foie gras; a poached egg with a fricassee of mushrooms; potatoes stuffed with escargots and served with Camembert cream; and cream of Jerusalem artichoke soup with foie gras.
For the main course, we sampled the succulent chunks of veal on a bed of spinach, with a creamy pumpkin purée; and the equally succulent milk-fed lamb du lait with a galette of thin slices of zucchini. Both had rich, flavorful reductions that begged to be soaked up with the country-style bread.
Desserts are simple, light and predominantly fruity: chocolate soup with banana, clementine sections with lemon sorbet, mango with meringue, and roasted pineapple gratin with rum.
The wine list offered a careful selection of reasonably priced bottles.
Ferrandaise well deserves the praise it is receiving. Everything we tasted was ultra-fresh, flavorful and satisfying. We had only one minor complaint about the food: chef Nicolas Duquenoy’s surprising use of flavorless out-of-season tomatoes as a garnish on two dishes. Otherwise the work of this young chef, formerly of the Relais Louis XIII, was just about faultless.
The decor is another story. The exposed stone walls and wooden beams are a fine backdrop, but a series of color photographs of various body parts of cows (the restaurant’s name refers to a race of bovines from the Auvergne that has recently been saved from dying out) seemed a bit aggressive. The small back room, with its faux stone-and-beam walls, is stuffy and depressing – ask to be seated in the airy main dining room. But with quality like this at these prices, who can complain about the décor?
The service was perfect: discreetly friendly and highly professional.
Update May 23, 2008: On a return visit last night, the food was just as delectable, the service just as discreet and the decor just as atrocious (for some reason, large branches with dead leaves – likely the same ones that were there on our last visit – hang from the ceiling). It would be hard to find a better meal for these prices in Paris, however. About the prices: the fixed-price menu has gone up to €32, and far too many supplements have been added for certain dishes – including a whopping €8 for the beef – which would seem to negate the whole purpose of having a fixed-price menu. Still, I highly recommend it for the food.
Ferrandaise: 8, rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris. Tel.: 01 43 26 36 36. Open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and dinner; Saturday for dinner only. Fixed-price menu (May 2013): €34. www.laferrandaise.com
© 2006 Paris Update
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