Throughout our meal at Godaille, my friend Jean-Michel, a French linguist, puzzled over the choice of the restaurant’s name, a word that means “crease” (in clothing or fabric). We finally got a chance to ask our server, who explained that in old French it means something like “debauch.” She was right. As soon as he got home, my friend traced the origin of the word back to the Dutch for “good ale.” From there it came to mean “pig out” in colloquial French. In other words, “debauch.”
So, did we pig out at Godaille? A bit, although there was no pork on the menu, which offers five different starters, all of them unusual and tempting.
I went for the crispy rice option, which rather resembled homemade Rice Krispies Treats with its clumps of crunchy rice but was much tastier, subtly flavored with tiny filaments of shallot and grated coconut. Fresh leaves of rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) added a needed fresh, bright touch. Altogether surprising and satisfying.
Even better was Jean-Michel’s dish of “burnt” leeks in a creamy sauce with croutons and pear jelly. The leeks were cooked to the melt-in-the-mouth point and melded beautifully with the other ingredients in this pretty, flower-topped dish.
There was not much choice for the main course, only three options: one vegetarian, one meat and one fish. Jean-Michel wisely ordered the onglet (hangar steak), which came with fried potato gnocchi rather than the usual potatoes. Luckily, he likes his beef rare because that’s the only way the chef will agree to prepare it, according to the server. It was lovely and tender, and went beautifully with the gnocchi, grilled scallions and hoisin sauce.
My fish maigre (meagre), rather overcooked, came with carrots prepared three ways: puréed, pickled and as whole babies. They were lovely but, like the sauce made with fermented milk, didn’t add much pep to the bland fish.
Both main courses, by the way, were served lukewarm. We didn’t say anything, however, since sending dishes back often results in overcooking
We were underwhelmed by the desserts (a choice of two sweet dishes and one cheese plate). Jean-Michel was bemused by his raspberry, lemon curd and crumble concoction, as I was by the cheese, rather too cold to have fully developed flavors.
Our enjoyment of the food was an inverted pyramid, starting with great delight and descending at the end to near-indifference, but Godaille, with its hip, youthful staff and clientele, is still a young restaurant. While there are a few wrinkles to be ironed out, there is still time to strike while the iron is hot.
See our Favorite Restaurants by Arrondissement page to find a good restaurant in the neighborhood where you want to eat.Favorite