MBC

March 8, 2011By Richard HesseArchive
mbc, restaurant, paris, gilles choukroun

Chef Gilles Choukroun chats with a customer in front of his new decor by graffiti artist Da Cruz.

When I reviewed MBC a couple of years ago, shortly after it opened, I ended the piece by saying I’d gladly go back. Well, I was recently invited back for …

mbc, restaurant, paris, gilles choukroun

Chef Gilles Choukroun chats with a customer in front of his new decor by graffiti artist Da Cruz.


Pros: fun surroundings, excellent food, lively service

Cons: none to speak of

When I reviewed MBC a couple of years ago, shortly after it opened, I ended the piece by saying I’d gladly go back. Well, I was recently invited back for lunch by the restaurant’s PR person to see a refurbished space and try the menu, and I haven’t changed my opinion.

MBC has gotten even better, largely because of the very pleasant Friday lunchtime vibe we experienced. The decor has been worked on by a team of taggers and is bright, in-your-face and fun. The division into two spaces – the rear space a glassed-in former courtyard – is partly responsible for keeping noise levels down to a very comfortable level. Last time around I complained about the designer chairs, but I found them quite comfortable at this session. Go figure.

The only thing on the menu that seemed the same this time was chef Gilles Choukroun’s signature crème brulée de foie gras, an amazing experience the first time you taste it. The lunch menu was long enough to make you hesitate between choices, with four starters, five main dishes and three desserts.

The velouté de potiron (creamy pumpkin soup) came with a generous quantity of strips of country sausage, which served as a tasty foil to the sweetness of the squash. It was a wintry, smoothly comforting dish. The same could also be said for the pairing of marinated salmon and raw fava beans, an unusual and highly satisfying taste combination. Each of these dishes had subtle overlays of the herbs and spices that Choukroun uses to lip-smacking effect.

We steered away from the chunk-of-meat options on the main dish list (rumpsteak and duck fillet) and plumped for brandade of smoked haddock and blood pudding with basmati rice. The blood pudding in particular was superb – again that smoothness on the palate – and not in the least cloying, as it can sometimes be. The rice had, unusually, been cooked to a sort of flavored mash, which surprised us at first, but after careful consideration was voted by me to be the right thing to do in the circumstances. The brandade had what it takes and, like the soup, was real comfort territory.

The star of the desserts was the faisselle (a creamier version of cottage cheese) with dried cranberries and granita of Orangina, a fizzy orange drink memorable for little more than its wacky and sometimes disturbing advertising over the decades (for comments on the most recent, Avatar-inspired offering, click here).

My lemon pound cake with fresh cream and ice cream was a good example of the genre, without setting my takes buds all aflame.

All in all, this was fine food at affordable prices in pleasant, civilized surroundings. What’s not to like? May Gilles Choukroun keep working his modest, herby magic for a long time to come.

Richard Hesse

MBC: 4, rue du Débarcadère, 75107 Paris. Tel: 01 45 72 22 55. Métro: Argentine (avoid Porte Maillot; it takes forever to get out of the station.). Nearest Vélib stations: 26, rue Saint Ferdinand; 227 Bd Pereire. A la carte: around €50. Lunch menus: €19 euros (two dishes) and €29 (three dishes). Closed Saturday and Sunday. www.gilleschoukroun.com

Reader Maggie Moran writes: Before you even think about the food, you have to get in the door: closed Saturday and Sunday – there’s customer service!

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