Around Paris: 14th: La Cantine du Troquet

1 10 2011

La Cantine du Troquet

Christian Etchebest is one of Paris’ most beloved bistrotiers (is that a word?  Like a restaurateur, but for a bistro?).  His original Troquet is much-loved, though rumor has it he’s sold the mothership in order to focus on a new project.  In the meantime, though, he’s still running the convivial, no-reservations offshoot, La Cantine du Troquet.

Nick and I met some food-loving friends there a couple of Thursdays ago.  We had misread their opening hours (they open at 7pm, not 8 as we had thought) and as a result, had to wait out on the sidewalk for a table to open up.  It was a balmy evening, though, and was not at all an unpleasant wait, with a platter of Basque chorizo balanced on the wine barrel out front for all to share, and ordering bottles or carafes of wine to drink while standing on the corner is not only sanctioned, but encouraged.

Over our wine (poured from a liter carafe of totally drinkable – and totally affordable at 18 euros – Bandol red), we studied the chalkboard menu posted outside, our mouths watering over the beef cheeks and the lomo dish.  Of course, by the time we got seated, both had been stricken from the real-time-updated indoor chalkboard.  Not to be deterred that easily, I asked the waitress about the beef cheeks.  She said they were out, but they had a pork cheek dish to replace it.  I, and two of my three companions, said “yes, please.”

To start, I ordered the salad with goat cheese and fresh figs (which I always order when given the chance).  Nick, feeling adventurous, went for the crispy pig’s ears.

salad with figs and goat cheese

Salad of crispy pig ears

Both were served on those impractical-yet-trendily-ubiquitous slate plates.  Other than that, though, I loved my salad.  Knowing that my main course was likely to be on the heavy side, I appreciated the fresh note, and ordering a salad makes it easy for me to convince myself I’m eating something healthy.  Plus, it’s hard to go wrong with goat cheese and fresh fruit.  Nick’s salad came loaded with fried strips of pig ear, some certainly crispier and more appetizing than others.  (Having tasted these, I’m inclined to agree with Ryan of Nose to Tail at Home when he says that these really can’t be sliced thinly enough.)

Our friends opted for a double order of couteaux, or razor clams, which here in France tend to come served in the shells from which they derive their name.  (As opposed to in the States, where more often than not they are butterflied, breaded, and fried.)

couteaux

They generously let me taste one, and the clams were great – somehow simultaneously briny and meaty.

And then came the swoonworthy pork cheeks.

joues de porc

Slow-cooked and tender, the cheeks were bathed in a gravy-like tomato sauce and served atop a pool of incredibly creamy potato purée.  I made a valiant effort, but couldn’t quite finish the generous portion (I did, I admit, scrape up every last drop of potatoes).  As such, I couldn’t justify ordering dessert, though the caramelized plums sure sounded tempting.  We also noticed about this point that the group seated next to us at the long communal table were all getting the same thing, and they had several courses.  Upon closer inspection of the chalkboard, we saw that the kitchen offers a menu dégustation for 32 euros, which, judging from what we saw on our neighbors’ plates, is a screaming bargain for at least four courses.  Next time, we’re totally trying that.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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15 responses

1 10 2011
Michel

Looks and sounds like a wonderful meal. I will have to remember this for my next trip through Paris. Sounds totally like the kind of place I like to try out; great ideas for our little bistro in Northern CA. I will go for the menu degustation.

1 10 2011
emiglia

Sounds amazing! I’m writing this address down for the books.

2 10 2011
researchingparis

That pork looks amazing – especially considering it was the *replacement*. Um, can I volunteer to be an extra on your dégustation outing? I’ll behave myself (my mouth will be full anyhow). Wow.

2 10 2011
Hannah

I’m drawn to figs like a moth to a flame too, and yet I rarely get the chance to be so moth-flame-drawn! I’m fascinated by the pigs’ ears dish too, because we give pigs’ ears to my dog for a treat :P

2 10 2011
croquecamille

Michel – I find good restaurants to be inspiring in the kitchen, too!

emiglia – It’s not at all far from where you live…

researchingparis – I’ll be sure to let you know when we go back. :)

Hannah – I can see a dog enjoying pig ears immensely.

2 10 2011
Ann

Wow, looks incredible and now I can’t wait until the weather gets a little cooler so I can start braising again. Thank you for another bonne adresse!

4 10 2011
Anna Johnston

How fantastic are those clams? I’ve never seen them before. What a fantastic meal, everything about it is perfect. If u ever need an extra, I’m totally waving my arms around to let u know I’m free. Lol.

4 10 2011
croquecamille

Ann – It’s my pleasure. We should go together sometime!

Anna – I agree, I think this is my very favorite type of restaurant. :)

7 10 2011
Tammy

That salad with figs would do me well right now and maybe later too. Nice writing Camille. I definitely would visit having read this review.

8 10 2011
Virginia

I just found your delicious blog at Lost in Cheeseland. My mouth is watering over the beef/pork cheeks. I’ve noted this bistro for my next trip!
Bon weekend,
V

10 10 2011
hungry dog

Sounds fantastic. I’ll have to add this to the long list of places to try next time we make it to Paris. Pork cheeks–never had ‘em. Plenty of beef cheeks though, so I’m sure pork would be just lovely. I think Nick had a pig’s ear as part of his dinner the night we saw you guys?

10 10 2011
Michelle

Next time I’m in Paris…..

11 10 2011
Tonya - What's On My Plate

Your blog is making me totally “homesick” for Paris. It is also making me crave pork cheeks :)

11 10 2011
Karen Albert

How delish and a wonderful combination of tastes textures, a delightful meal!

I would love your thoughts on my Autumn decor so far!

xoxo
Karena

Art by Karena

11 10 2011
croquecamille

Tammy – Thank you!

Virginia – Welcome! Beef and pork cheeks make my mouth water, too. :)

hungry dog – Come to think of it, he may have. I just asked him about it, and his response, “Am I an enthusiast?”

Michelle – Yep.

Tonya – I crave them often. :)

Karen – It certainly was!




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