Monday, October 5, 2009

Review: Quai Quai -- I say oui, oui

It's hard to know what I get more excited about these days. The actual event of sitting down and eating at a restaurant or the fact that I am out at all.
With an 18-month-old doing a convincing job of otherwise filling my every waking hour, plus a book deadline looming (note to my editor: I'm working on it Vanessa - really I am .. even as I type this blog entry, I am forming winning sentences for the book..) it's usually all I can do at night to collapse in front of the telly with a plate of re-heated leftovers from a meal we cooked three nights previously.
Which is why Saturday's visit to Quai Quai - the dead-groovy restaurant perched conveniently on the Pont Neuf - was such a delight.
The Missus and I broke bread with a fellow Aussie couple, and our consta-companion Julien - a Parisian of exceedingly good taste who has been my gastronomic guide to the City of Light for as long as I have been here.
The decor chez Quai Quai depends where you are seated. The restaurant straddles a block, meaning it has two entrances and two distinct dining rooms. One is all romantic-intimatey with muted lighting and cushioned bench seats and a tasteful brown and lime-green interior design motif. The other is more canteen-esque, with simple, mismatched furniture, distressed wooden doors and more muted lighting. We were seated in the rambunctious part of the restaurant (even before we had opened our mouths..) and settled in for a three-course adventure.
The menu is, by bistro standards, both extensive and eminently affordable. Entrées start at around 7 euros and peak at 15. Mains run the back-pocket gamut from 17 euros to 35. A dessert will set you back anywhere from 7 to 12 euros.
The trio who recently opened this eatery are also responsible for Cinq Mars, the equally hip little eatery behind the Musée d'Orsay. They've created menu that is at once traditional and modern. Contemporary twists on ye olde French bistro favourites.
I kicked off proceedings with sardines marinées - which were delicious. The Missus opted for ricotta de grand-mere avec tomates confites, which was presented in a glass pot that could have been style-over-substance were it not for the fact the ricotta was creamy and the tomatoes were plump and juicy. Un demi canard avec sauce champignons was next on my eating agenda, and what a delight it was. After ten years in Paris, I've eaten my fair share of canard, but this dish was prepared and presented in an inventive, attractive way. The Missus went with the lamb, which was okay, without being remarkable. For dessert, I couldn't go past the millefeuille aux framboises, a tasty confection of pastry, raspberries and fresh creme anglaise. Mmmmmmm. The Missus allowed herself to be tempted by the pain perdu - which while tasty, was perhaps a little heavy going for an end of meal option.
It was all washed down by several bottles of a very good red wine - the name of which I will post once I have consulted with Julien.
The service was attentive and friendly, the restaurant was packed with groovy young things (ourselves not included) and the bill was reasonable. Perhaps the best part of the meal though is stepping out the door, onto the Pont Neuf, and taking a post-prandial stroll as you stare up river and drink in one of the most beautiful views in the world.

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