Nouveau and Natural
|La Muse Vin specializes in “natural” wines. Photo: Charles Gomes
Like just about everything else these days, restaurant food is subject to trends. We have recently reviewed some of Paris’s “nouveaux bistros” (including the Marsangy, Café des Musées and Ferrandaise), and while we love their emphasis on super-fresh, well-prepared seasonal foods and reasonable prices (most have menus at around €30 for three courses), we have one tiny complaint – a certain sameness that characterizes many of the menus.
In the winter, you would be hard put to find one of these bistros that doesn’t offer cream of topinambour (Jerusalem artichoke) soup as a starter. You can’t deny that soup made with this recently rediscovered and popularized tuber is delicious, but do they all have to serve it?
The other night we had a fine cream of topinambour soup at La Muse Vin in the 11th arrondissement. In this case it came with a piece of toast covered in Saint-Marcellin cheese floating on top, making the already hearty soup even heartier. Much more refined was the cappuccino (another trend – you’ll find cappuccino of this and cappuccino of that in many of these restaurants) of prawns, a delicately flavored three-layered concoction, with the prawns on the bottom, the soup in the middle and a frothy cream on top.
For the main course, a tender magret of canette (young female duck) came in an individual cast-iron casserole with soothing winter vegetables and a fine, slightly fruity sauce. The cabillaud (cod) was perfectly cooked and simply served.
We were happy to find an unusual offering on the dessert list, along with the familiar soft-centered chocolate cake: a delicate tart spread with Fourme d’Ambert (a mild blue cheese) and topped with a perfect little wine-poached pear, a surprisingly successful way of combining the cheese and dessert courses (having both would be nearly impossible after the generous helpings of the first two courses).
As in most of the nouveaux bistros, decor is not the priority at La Muse Vin. Since it is also a wine shop specializing in “natural” wines, the bottles on the shelves provide most of the decoration in the spare dining room with a few metal tables. The ambiance was friendly and relaxed, with low-key music playing at a reasonable volume in the background.
The restaurant adds a €7 corking fee to the retail price of the bottles, making them about 25-30 percent less expensive than they would be in other restaurants.
La Muse Vin: 101, rue Charonne, 75011 Paris. Métro: Charonne. Tel.: 01 40 09 93 05.
© 2006 Paris Update
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