Monsieur le Prince serves up beautifully executed French country cuisine. Photo: ParisUpdate.com
Until last year, the venerable Chez Maître Paul dispensed Franc Comtois (Alsace, Jura) cuisine to a loyal band of locals. In the last couple of months, it has been …
Pros: Plenty of space, good food and wine
Cons: No accessible restrooms
Until last year, the venerable Chez Maître Paul dispensed Franc Comtois (Alsace, Jura) cuisine to a loyal band of locals. In the last couple of months, it has been reborn as Monsieur le Prince after the application of a coat of stylish gray paint and some adjustments to the decor in the shape of unobtrusive tables, chairs and light fixtures and (literally) some Mickey Mouse artwork on the walls. It’s a nice, warm, welcoming space.
If you’re mobile, that is. Even if you could get through the door in a wheelchair, you might need to bring your own sanitary arrangements with you, as you either have to climb a narrow spiral staircase or descend a very steep flight of steps should the need arise. I’m not complaining about the restrooms themselves, which are clean and contemporary, just the fact that the arrangement seems to flout EU law on providing rest-room facilities for people with reduced mobility.
Having got that gripe out of the way, on to the positives.
The food is contemporary bistro with no chichi faffing about. That’s a huge positive if you’re not wanting to explore terra that’s too incognita. The dishes are put together and presented with care, with an obvious flair for good ingredients, and are well cooked.
We started with bonbons d’huitres: oysters wrapped in a sort of filo pastry and deep-fried just long enough to crisp the pastry and gently warm the oyster. There was a little sorrel sauce in there too, and each bonbon sat on a bed of tasty shoots, possibly cress. The overall effect was very pleasurable. The other starter, which would have been a full meal anywhere else, was a chou farci – stuffed cabbage in the more prosaic English rendering. This was prettily formed into a half sphere, and the forcemeat included pistachios and whatnot to cut the richness of the meat itself. It sat in a little lake of the sort of rich gravy that you only get in a good restaurant. I voted that a hit, too.
Morel mushrooms were the star of the main dishes, respectively a cassolette (casserole) of chicken and a piece of grilled beef fillet. The chicken came with an abundance of topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes) that had my companion swooning with pleasure. The beef was perfectly bleue, as requested, and the tiny browned grenaille potatoes were first rate, too. Not to mention the sublime morels.
Desserts were my usual cheese (a superbly tangy Laguiole or Salers) and a parfait aux clémentines that was the meal’s crowning glory. Imagine a semi-spherical half-shell of wafer-thin white chocolate filled with a zingy, creamy citrus confection and served with candied tangerine peel – a real winner.
At the start of the meal, I was a bit nonplussed by the list of wines by the glass: red wine, white wine, and rosé: that was all the information provided. The sweetly decorative waitress couldn’t add to that information and sent over the owner/maître d’, who was more forthcoming. The wine list is on the short side, with young wines ranging in price from about €25 to €60. We chose a 2009 Cairanne from Maison Richaud, which was all fruit and no tannins (how do they do it?) and so a good companion to the meal.
We were both very taken with Monsieur le Prince. The pleasant surroundings and the sheer quality of the food won our hearts. It will be a good, economical place for lunch, too: even if the menu is minimal, I doubt if the chef could stop himself turning out really good food, even at that price. And there’s an upstairs room that can be rented for private parties of up to 18. I’ve tucked that away for future use. So by all means go, for a taste of beautifully executed French country cuisine.
Monsieur le Prince: 12, rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006 Paris. Tel.: 01 43 54 74 59. Métro: Odéon. Nearest Vélib stations: Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. Fixed-priced lunch menu: €21. A la carte: around €35-€40.
Readers Paul & Diane Malecki write: “We enjoyed Richard Hesse’s review of the cuisine at Monsieur le Prince (formerly Chez Maître Paul) because we’ve enjoyed the cuisine there in the past! The photo appears to show no major changes in layout, just new paint and prints (I can’t remember what was on the walls before). Yes, if you are wheelchair-bound, things will be a bit dicey moving around. Nonetheless, we are pleased that the foodie’s neighborhood centered around the intersection of Rue Monsieur le Prince and Rue Racine is more than holding its own.”
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