Simply Good or
Louloucam’s refreshingly stark decor.
In an area of Paris’s 10th arrondissement formerly bereft of good restaurants, Jean-Matthieu Frédéric, a young chef who has passed through the kitchens of the Tour d’Argent and the Hôtel Meurice, has opened his own bistro on a tree-lined avenue. The airy, pleasingly stark square dining room has a refreshingly different interior decor dominated by a ’50s-style orange-and-white bar and modern blond-wood furnishings. The floor-to-ceiling glass facade lets in plenty of light and offers a nice view of the greenery outside.
The chatty, welcoming young waitress seemed like a friend only minutes after we arrived. She happily advised us on our choices and recommended a wine (a nice 2010 Sancerre from Jean-Marc Crochet for a reasonable €18) from the very short list (only two whites, five reds and one Champagne).
The menu offered three courses for €31, with supplements tacked on for the foie gras starter and pigeon main dish. My friend Susan, who was visiting Paris, wanted her dose of foie gras,
which she deemed excellent. I agreed but thought that the onion confiture that came with it lacked refinement and overwhelmed the delicate liver. Xavier Perrot, a young French artist who had been showing us his installations in Beauvais, enjoyed his linguine with razor clams (out of the shell). I started with leeks with lemongrass vinaigrette, which
came entwined with slightly overcooked green beans. There was something touchingly homemade about this dish—perhaps a little too much so—but I liked the tangy sauce.
Susan and Xavier both had the roast lotte (monkfish) on a bed of leeks. I didn’t hear any
complaints, but I didn’t hear any whoops of delight either. I had the roast pigeon, a bird
whose bloody, rich flesh I have a special weakness for; I was not disappointed. And I loved the potato-chip-thin fried potatoes it came with.
I think something then went wrong in the kitchen, because it seemed to take forever to get our desserts even though the restaurant was not full. When they finally came, they were rather plain-looking but very tasty. I had the satisfyingly vanilla-y cream puff, Susan was happy with her cooked pear with salted-butter
caramel sauce, and Xavier liked his rich chocolate cake so much that I had a hard time stealing a taste of it.
My overall impression was that the chef should let some more of his haute cuisine training show through. He keeps everything rather too simple for the expectations raised by his credentials and by the prices. Even the complimentary appetizer, which usually gives a chef a chance to show off a little, was just a piece of rolled-up smoked salmon (albeit very delicious smoked salmon) with chives, and the feeble attempts to brighten up some of the dishes with a sprinkling of chopped tomatoes looked rather sad and dated. On the whole, the experience was very sympathique, however, especially thanks to the waitress, and I will return to see how he advances.
Restaurant Louloucam: 264, rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010 Paris. Métro: Stalingrad. Tel: 01 40 34 76 87. Fixed-price menu: €31. Open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch.
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