Every neighborhood in Paris should have a Jeanne, but for the moment there are only two. Jeanne A, a deli/restaurant opened a few years ago next to the mother establishment (the well-loved bistro Astier) in the 11th arrondissement, and now a younger sister, Jeanne B, in Montmartre. If Jeanne continues to go through the alphabet, we may all get a chance.
Why would we want a Jeanne nearby? For those evenings when we don’t want to cook but want a good meal rather than microwaved mediocrities from the local Chinese takeaway. As soon as you step into one of the two Jeannes, your mouth starts watering at the sight of the goodies in the display case,
among them the other evening smoked salmon cannelloni (with the salmon replacing the pasta), stuffed zucchini, a duck tourte, all kinds of veggies, a strawberry tart with a puff pastry base and so on.
When I got there, Bonnie and her lovely daughter (my goddaughter) Oona were carefully studying the offerings in the case and trying to decide what they wanted, but there turned out to be even more choices on the blackboard menu brought to us by the charming waiter when we sat down. To preserve their model-thin figures, they only ordered two courses each, while I went all out
as usual and had three. Bonnie and Oona shared the foie gras with onion confiture, sprinkled with fleur de sel and a touch of Espelette pepper, and loved every unctuous, flavorful bite. Meanwhile, I was thrilled with my feuilleté de maquereaux et courgettes, pieces of mildly flavored mackerel and thinly
sliced zucchini on puff pastry, served with a sort of tomato confiture. It all worked together brilliantly and deliciously.
For the main course, Bonnie chose what turned out to be the winner of the three: those round zucchini, which were stuffed with smoked
scamorza and served piping hot, a surprisingly satisfying and delicious combination. Oona had
the vegetable tart, which did not excite any exclamations of delight, but was fine. I enjoyed my generous serving of slow-cooked (seven hours) leg of lamb, but found the medley of boiled carrots, potatoes and greens served
with it uninspiring. The salads accompanying various dishes were on the soggy side, but we all liked the nutty flavor of the dressing. The waitress informed us that it was made with lemon-infused olive oil and brewer’s yeast.
For dessert, that beautiful strawberry tart was lovely, but my pear tart was even better, with its buttery, cakelike crust.
The small dining room in the front near the display case has an original, colorful decor that integrates bottles of wine into one of the big diamond-shaped motifs on the walls, while the larger dining room in the back is decorated with a wall of birch trees and a buck’s head, not quite creating the illusion of being in the forest but very amusing.
Other advantages of having a Jeanne in your neighborhood: the friendly service, convivial atmosphere and reasonable prices (three courses for under €30).