A Festival of
A designer booth at Maison F.
F is for frites, or French fries, if you prefer, the specialty of Maison F. After trying its tasty super-sized fries – wittily called “Boteros” – as an appetizer a couple of weeks ago, I decided to go back and check out what else was on offer in this attractive restaurant that dares to buck the health-food trends.
Joining me for lunch were David Jaggard of C’est Ironique humor-column fame and Nancy Li, gourmet extraordinaire and David’s wife.
We started by sharing a succulent burrata with a pleasing salad of mixed greens, figs, cherry
tomatoes and radishes. Then we got serious with fried foods. Nancy had the fish and chips, which she seemed to thoroughly enjoy. Not being British, it took us a while to identify
the rather bland green paste in a little cup on her plate. Mushy peas, of course, the obligatory side dish for fish and chips, and a nice, fresh version it was.
I ordered the “smoked buttermilk fried chicken,” which I expected to resemble Southern fried chicken. To my disappointment, it didn’t at all. It consisted of three generous
chunks of boned chicken, breaded and fried, served with the house barbecue sauce, which was more like mayonnaise with just a slight touch of barbecue flavor.
Speaking of sauces, the ones that came with our French fries were excellent, especially the mayonnaise with 11 herbs and spices and the house ketchup, which seemed to have basil in it.
Since fries are the star dish here, the menu offers a variety of them. The allumettes
(matchsticks) were not available that day; instead we had the “coin des rues,” rough-cut fried potatoes, along with some of those fat Boteros and a dish of normal-sized frites. We agreed that the normal ones were the best. I thought the texture of the Boteros was a bit mealy this time.
For my money, the winning main course was David’s burger, or rather burgers, two small
ones, made with veal, foie gras, mayonnaise with white truffles, beets and blue cheese. I’d go back for them in a flash.
Our shared dessert of fresh pineapple (cut like French fries) in its slightly sweetened and
spiced juice with meringue kisses, was a nice counterpoint to the fried food that went before.
Maison F makes a point of using quality ingredients: beef from Maison Poncelet, bread from Poujauron, chicken from Challans, etc. The staff is friendly and the setting attractive and comfortable, with a library theme in the ground-floor bar area, colorful Escher-patterned tiles embedded in the parquet and decorating the bar, and wavy ceiling panels in the upstairs dining room that reflect the light from the white-shaded articulated lamps. A private dining room off to one side seats eight.
By the way, that €84 chicken we spotted on the menu when my friend Liz and I had a drink there a couple of weeks ago turns out not to be a golden chicken, as David speculated, but a big bird for four or five people, bringing the price per person down to a reasonable level. Mea culpa for not looking more closely at the menu the last time.
With all that fried food on the menu, Maison F is a great place to go when you have a hangover from getting fried the night before, but it is well worth a visit anytime even if you are avoiding fried foods – the menu offers a number of non-fried options, including that roast chicken, a Waldorf salad and a tartare.
Maison F: 3 Rue Rougemont, 75009 Paris. Métro: Grands Boulevards. Tel.: 01 42 46 23 16. Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner; Saturday for dinner only; Sunday for lunch only. Fixed-price lunch menus: €17 (two courses), €22 (three courses). A la carte: around €45.
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