January 15, 2008By Richard HesseArchive

Mom-and-Pop Bistro Fusion

oxalis restaurant, paris
The paneled walls don’t provide the ideal setting for the fine food and wine.

As you turn into Rue Ferdinand Flocon in the further reaches of the 18th arrondissement, you are rewarded for the hike with a view of that most Parisian of piles, the Sacré Cœur, towering what seems like inches from your face.

Gilles and Chantal Lambert moved here from the 14th arrondissement seven months ago, the 40 covers at L’Oxalis being quite a step up from their tiny venue in a former butcher’s shop on the opposite side of town. Madame is out front, Monsieur in the kitchen. You’ll find nice things said about them on the Web, and I went along myself on a warm recommendation from a contented patron, who also pointed out that I had never set foot in a critical capacity in the 18th.

For those of a non-horticultural bent, “oxalis” is the Latin name for the 800 species of wood sorrel, one cultivar of which is sometimes sold as a four-leaf clover lookalike. In any case, the locals can certainly count themselves lucky to have this unpretentious mom-and-pop outfit on their doorstep, serving a very good line in neo-bistro food with a dash of fusion.

Witness the croustillants de gambas au tandoori, fresh prawn wrapped in tasty filo pastry, flash-baked and served with a zesty sauce. My remoulade de crabe mixed crabmeat with the old celery favourite, with an added acidic crunch from slivers of Granny Smith apple. Mr. Lambert should get a medal for finding a worthwhile use for one of the least appetizing apples in the world.

Our meaty main courses (pig’s cheek braised with ginger and lemon, and leg of duckling with five-spice) paired very happily with a distinctive 2004 Faugères Conviction from the Chabbert family at Château Chenaie, a real bargain at just €20, with lots of mouth and a 13.5-degree alcohol level.

The desserts were unpretentiously well-crafted, too. Both my rice pudding with caramelised pears and the lemon mousse with orange biscuits had an extremely satisfying heft to them: this is truly honest fare.

If there’s a downside to L’Oxalis, it’s the dining room’s rather daunting paneling, which looks like the terrifying red-painted barns in (if memory serves) Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider, although painted a rather startling shade of fuchsia. A bit hard on the eye, but it certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment or my digestion.

Richard Hesse

L’Oxalis: 14, rue Ferdinand Flocon, 75018 Paris. Tel.: 01 42 51 11 98. Métro: Jules Joffrin or Simplon. Nearest Vélib stations: 98, rue Marcadet and 81, rue de Mont Cenis. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, Monday for dinner only. Closed Sunday. Fixed-price menu: €26. www.restaurantoxalis.com

© 2008 Paris Update

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