Now that I have finally re-entered the 21st century and gotten a French cell phone, complete with camera, I have no more excuses for not taking pictures when I’m dining out. To test the abilities of this spiffy new device, Nick and I went to lunch at our favorite neighborhood bistro, Le Bastringue. This place may very well be the best deal in Paris, especially at lunch. They recently raised their prices from 10 euros to 10,50 (yes, that’s a comma – that’s how they do things here) for either appetizer + main course or main course + dessert. We learned early on that the generous portions allow two people to share the appetizer and dessert courses and therefore we end up with a 3-course meal each for 21 euro! Not too shabby. Plus the food is fantastic.
Lunch the other day, for example, started with a large slice of pâté de campagne (or was it canard? French handwriting is nearly impossible to read) and a small salad. I like those proportions. The pâté was firm, with lots of meaty bits, and great with the above-average (average being pretty high-quality) bread they serve.
For the main course, I chose the veal pasta and Nick opted for the pork in mustard sauce.
My dish was excellent. The veal was unbelievably tender, shredding with ease into the rich sauce that dressed the perfectly al dente pasta.
Nick cleaned his plate, so I guess the pork was pretty good, too. (He was coming down with a cold, so we didn’t share.) I did manage to swipe a potato from his plate, and it was delicious, as the potatoes at the Bastringue always are. One thing I really like about this place, upon reflection, is that the food is always correctly seasoned. Sure, they provide salt and pepper at the table, but I can’t recall a single incidence in which I’ve used them. I know it’s a small detail, but attention to detail is what separates the good from the great. It may surprise some of you, but I have been several places (yes, in Paris) where salting the potatoes (or chicken, or whatever) was necessary. Le Bastringue is not one of them.
But I digress. For dessert we had the apple crumble.
It was made with fresh apples and served with two sauces: passion fruit and strawberry. Each sauce was good on its own, but neither did much in the way of enhancing the apple crumble. Still, I’d eat another plate of this right now, without hesitation. I loved how the flavor and texture of the apples was preserved, rather than being drowned in sugar and cinnamon and baked into oblivion. The tender crumb topping complemented the slightly crisp apples beautifully, maintaining just the right balance between sweet and tart.
See what I mean? Best deal in Paris.