Last week, I sampled the cuisine of the state of Georgia in the Caucasus at Colchide, so it was only fitting that this week I should try the food of the American state of Georgia at a new restaurant named – wait for it – Georgia, on the rapidly gentrifying Rue du Château d’Eau in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.
What’s a restaurant featuring southern American cuisine doing in Paris? It is owned by a charming Frenchwoman, Caroline Nepveu, who has traveled all around the United States and even lived in Georgia for a couple of years. The food, however, is not exactly American, but American-inspired, with quite a few French and even Japanese influences.
The decor of the bright, spacious restaurant is a fiesta of flea-market finds, some of them from the States, with mismatched chairs and tables, and industrial lighting. One wall is covered with extravagant flowered wallpaper. It works, creating an attractive, homey setting.
My friend Terry and I decided to order a variety of starters and share them instead of the usual starter, main course and dessert. While waiting we were treated to an appetizer of hummus tempered with a little sweet potato (an American specialty that pops up frequently on the menu), but not enough to make it sweet.
Of the four dishes we ordered, I think the tempura of sweet potatoes, eggplant and kale was my favorite, especially the succulent eggplant, though the other two were delicious, too. This dish came with two fine dipping sauces, one sweetish and the other spicier.
A close second was the beet soup topped with cream flavored with grain mustard (a nice touch) and served with toasted brioche.
The other two were very tasty, too, but I think we erred by ordering too many deep-fried dishes. Still, what American could resist mac-and-cheese croquettes? They were a little too dry, but when I bit into one that was moister, I was in comfort-food heaven.
Finally, we had some crab cakes, which were slightly overcooked on the outside but still moist and flavorful, topped with fried samphire.
If you order a number of starters, as we did, make sure you ask that they not be served all at once; deep-fried foods really must be eaten while hot.
For those who prefer a serious main course, the menu offered pork chops and baked cod as well with as vegetarian options.
We finished off the meal with a lovely lime cheesecake with a fabulous crust made with granola and hazelnut.
Obviously, I have Georgia on my mind lately, though I’ve never been to either place. Both appear to be specialists in comfort food.