In French, to be “en goguette,” means to be out on the town having a good time, so Goguette is the perfect name for this new wine bar/restaurant with three dining rooms, one after another. The first two were full of people who were certainly enjoying themselves. We sat in the quieter room in the back – quiet, that is, after the server turned down the music without even being asked; I was thrilled, since the speaker was right above our heads.
The menu offers a limited number of choices for each course, plus a few dishes that would go well with a glass of wine but that are also suitable as starters: oysters, smoked duck with eel butter, pork terrine, etc.
The wine waiter was very patient with us. He first gave us a taste of a “natural“ red, which we found to be too acidic. Then we tried a Côte du Rhône that was much to my liking but not to my friend’s, so the waiter ran off for another bottle, a Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon whose lustier tannic flavor pleased her. All the wines we tasted were natural.
That settled, we tucked into two shared starters. A dish of cockles with coriander seeds was quite tasty, but I found the addition of merguez, which made the sauce rather greasy, to be completely superfluous.
The other one was an unusual mushroom mousse with chunky shiitake mushrooms and quince. At first, I was put off by the slight sweetness of the mousse, but I became accustomed to it and realized it was coming from the bits of quince it contained, not an added sweetener. In short, these were both attempts at creativity with ingredients that didn’t quite hang together.
The main courses were more coherent. The tender and delicious lamb chops came with standout sautéed vegetables cooked just right – carrots, cime di rapa (broccoli rabe) and radicchio – and a lovely squash purée.
The desserts were a big hit. One was a scoop of creamy cheesecake filling on top of a hazelnut and pistachio crumble, served with something like a peanut brittle made with whole nuts, only it was soft, not brittle. Brilliant!
We asked the wine waiter to propose some dessert wines for the end of the meal, and I immediately fell in love with an organic sparkling white (Pinot Gris and Muscat grapes) called “Petit en Blanc” from Domaine de Mailaïgue, near the southern town of Uzès.
The food at Goguette was far better than one would expect from a popular wine bar, but the prices were also higher than one would expect. Still, the devotion of the friendly youthful crew to good food and wine is obvious and laudable. Go there the next time you feel like a goguette a-go-go.