There was an awful lot of grumbling when we arrived at La Canonnière and tried to get settled at our high table, which was on wheels and kept moving around. Even worse were the heavy, cast-iron stools. Once seated on the stools, we couldn’t pull them toward the table, and they were so high that the three of us, all taller than the norm, could not touch the ground with our feet. As we struggled with the moving table and the immovable chairs, we wondered why the hipster-bearded waiter did not come over and help us, especially since there were only a few other customers in the room. He was too busy chatting for at least 10 minutes with two women at another table.
We understood why it had taken so long when he finally came over and asked us if we wanted some wine. We did, but there was no wine list* to look at, just lots and lots of bottles on shelves on the other side of the restaurant, and we certainly weren’t going to give up our hard-earned seats once he had finally locked down the table’s wheels so that it wouldn’t move anymore. He stood there looking at us expectantly, as if we were supposed to guess what wines he had, causing more irritation among my friends.
Eventually, we managed to order both food and wine. Two of us started with the duck hearts, a dish not seen in restaurants very often these days. They were truly delicious, although they might have been even better if cooked slightly less.
One friend started with six big, plump Marennes d’Oléron oysters.
Two of us followed up with the venison stew. We both thought it was a bit too acidic, but I didn’t agree with my friend that it was overcooked. In fact, it had been slow-cooked for 24 hours and was falling-apart tender.
The third party in our group chose one of the starters as her main course: veal tongue, topped with a tasty sauce of capers and anchovies. I always find the texture of tongue a bit difficult to take, but the flavor was lovely, and the friend who ordered it was happy.
We ordered all three desserts and found them to be excellent. The chocolate mousse was appropriately chocolatey and topped with whipped cream flavored with tonka bean and white chocolate. The lemon cream with bergamot was très tarty and perfectly complemented by crunchy meringues. The rice pudding with salted caramel sauce and caramelized hazelnuts was not quite as sublime as the other two but still extremely tasty.
We left the restaurant mollified. My feeling is that the waiter, who had annoyed us so much the beginning, was just a bit awkward. He made an effort to be friendly and grew on us as the evening progressed.
We all liked the fact that behind the bar was the comforting presence of a motherly woman who, when we arrived, was cutting the carrots that were later served with our venison stew.
The restaurant has a pleasing decor, with a wall of wine behind the bar on the left side of the room and a vertical wall of plants in the back. And those tall stools we hated so much at the beginning of the evening turned out to be surprisingly comfortable!
The biggest surprise was the gentle bill: only €92 for the three of us, including a bottle of wine (€25), of which we were initially suspicious because it wasn’t served in its bottle but already decanted from a magnum. The waiter assured us that it was all on the up and up, but still, that is not standard wine service. It was another example of his relative clumsiness, surprising in Paris, where these things are taken very seriously. He did assure us, by the way, that a wine list was coming soon.
My friends might not want to go back, but I would, if only for those duck hearts and the reasonable prices, even if it means climbing up on those stools again.
* I have been informed by the restaurant that the wine list is now available.