La Bonne Cécile: cozy and comforting.
We were greeted at La Bonne Cécile, a new restaurant in Paris’s third arrondissement, by a pug named Gaspard and two smiling humans, one of whom warned us that Gaspard was having a little flatulence problem. Not the most appetizing way to start off a meal, but the friendliness of both canine and humans soon won us over, as did the cozy atmosphere of the place, with its neo-Art Deco look and Pleyel standup piano.
Our starters were great warm-ups for a winter night. I opted for the velouté de légumes (creamy vegetable soup) with pan-fried foie gras. The mushroomy soup came with a rather enormous piece of foie gras floating in it – rich and satisfying. Richard (Paris Update’s former restaurant reviewer) chose the fry-up of mushrooms and escargot in a creamy sauce with parsley. The mushrooms were pleurotes (oyster mushrooms), and Richard happily scarfed them all down.
The main courses reinforced the impression that we were eating in the home of a friend. My veal chop served with mashed potatoes with shallots and more pleurotes seemed home-cooked. It was very tasty without being spectacular. The veal was a bit too rare for my taste – perhaps I should have asked for it to be cooked à point rather than rosé. On the other side of the table, Richard was happily chomping away on his “pièce de bœuf,” which the owner had informed us was an onglet (hanger steak). It was just the way Richard likes his onglet: blue, tender and chewy. He described the roasted vegetables that came with it as just right: “None of that al dente stuff.”
He indulged in a nice selection of cheeses: a goat cheese, Brie and fourme d’Ambert, while I ordered the lemon meringue tart. I loved the sprinkling of lime zest (which reminded Richard of the amazing French fries topped with lime zest we ate together a couple of times at Spring in the good old days when he lived in Paris), but I found the tart itself to be far too sweet for my taste.
We drank a likable bottle of Pic Saint-Loup with our meal and left feeling that we had been well fed and cared-for. So did Gaspard, who was taking a postprandial nap under the piano.
I wouldn’t recommend crossing town to eat at La Bonne Cécile, but if you are in the neighborhood and want a hearty, homey meal, it’s an option.Favorite