If you live in Paris, with its multitude of great restaurants, why would you go to the suburb of Vincennes for dinner? Because that’s where Maezaly is located. Nicolas and Amandine, the son and daughter-in-law of my friend Mary, have recently moved their small family there. Proud that they had almost immediately discovered a great restaurant in their new location (adjacent to Paris and easy to get to on the Métro or RER), they wanted to show it off.
Maezaly is a small, homey, refreshingly untrendy place, decorated in neutral colors with little white shades on the lamps. Although there was no evidence of soundproofing, the noise levels were surprisingly low even when the restaurant was full.
Nicolas and Amandine warned us that the dishes were really copious, which made the tasting menu look most appealing – even though it consisted of a starter, two main courses and a dessert – because the main courses came in half portions. In the end, all four of us ordered it. At only €41, it was a great deal.
First up was a luscious chestnut and butternut squash soup, topped with trompette de la mort (horn of plenty) mushrooms and pecorino cheese flavored with truffle oil. The flavors all melded together beautifully. My only reservation was that the soup was not quite hot enough when it arrived, probably a consequence of the fact that one of the owners takes care of the whole dining room by herself while her husband and an assistant labor away in the kitchen. This was absolutely the only slip-up I noticed. Otherwise, she served the whole room promptly, calmly and competently.
The next dish was probably my favorite, although it’s hard to choose: two generous pieces of succulent lotte (monkfish) on a bed of fregola (bead-shaped pasta) in a stunning cuttlefish-ink sauce, along with a few small clams and pickleweed. It was a highly satisfying dip into briny waters. This supposed half-course was more generous than a full course would be in most restaurants, especially for monkfish, which is usually rather expensive in restaurants.
We could have ended the meal there and been perfectly happy, but the meat course and dessert were still to come. The former consisted of tender slices of roast veal with a flavorful meat reduction, served with a celery-and-parsnip fondant (a small savory cake), with a slice of pumpkin and some onion rings. Again, it was hard to believe that this lovely autumnal dish was only a half-serving.
The dessert had three components: spice cake, pistachio ice cream and caramelized clementine slices. At first, I thought we could have done without the dense cake after having eaten so much, but it was so wonderfully perfumed with orange-blossom water that I nearly managed to finish it. The pistachio ice cream was marvelously nutty, and the creamy sauce was a perfect complement to the clementines. A fine end to the meal.
By finding this marvelous, little-known restaurant, Nicolas and Amandine, who are confirmed and knowledgeable foodies, have provided heartwarming proof that not all young French people have converted to burgers and Coca-Cola. Now that’s what I call bien-élevé (well-brought-up). Thank you, Mary!Favorite