All summer I had my eyes peeled for Corsican restaurants in Paris. (July was the originally-planned Corsica month, but then the spur-of-the-moment trip to Rouen happened. Fortunately, it turns out that Fall is the best time of year for Corsican charcuterie, so I lucked out.) I spotted one on a bike ride near the Place de la République, did some research in my Pudlo guide, and decided that Balbuzard was the place to go.
Saturday night we finally went. Nick and I were joined by another couple, and the four of us walked there together after apéros chez nous. We were greeted immediately upon entering the colorful (red and yellow tiled floor, lime green and magenta velvet wallpaper winding up the stairs) café. We were seated at a table near the bar with a good view of the rest of the room, including the small Corsican épicerie (jams, honeys, and charcuterie available for purchase) in the corner. A bottle of Corsican wine was ordered – we went with the one suggested by the waiter to compliment the cured meats – and our meals chosen, and we chatted with our friends during the brief wait for our first courses.
I had chosen the avocado salad with prawn and scallops. The prawn was great, but there wasn’t enough of him. The avocados were perfectly ripe, and the salad was served with a cold tomato compote and a wedge of fresh cheese. Only the scallops disappointed. Like the rest of the salad, they were cold, and I had really been expecting freshly seared, rare-but-warm specimens. I didn’t notice much of a difference in flavor or texture between the scallop meat and the other part (roe? liver? other mysterious organs?), which I thought was odd.
Nick had the terrine de sanglier, a delicious wild boar pâté. Corsican wild boar live their days running around in the forest, eating chestnuts, and you can tell when you taste their extremely flavorful, slightly nutty meat. The terrine was served with an onion jam that really put it over the top. Table positioning made taking photos of our companions’ plates awkward, but our vegetarian friend ordered the terrine de chèvre (cheese, that is), and ate every bit.
For the main course, I opted for the figatellu. It’s a classic Corsican sausage made from the liver and heart of wild pigs.
The flavor is strong, but I really enjoy it. Served on a bed of warm lentils with an oven-dried tomato and a breath-freshening sprig of parsley, the sausage really hit the spot. I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy, though, when I looked over at Nick’s plate…
…or should I say platter? On the menu, it was called a “planche,” and it had small portions of all the house specialties. Charcuterie, cheeses, stewed vegetables, and more meat surrounded a bowl of crisp, golden potatoes. Since he’s so nice, Nick let me sample a few things – I particularly like the herb-coated cheese, which had the flavor of fresh mountain herbs.
After all that meat (in case you’re wondering, the vegetarian ordered a salad that turned out to be covered in ham), and a second bottle of wine, we barely had room for dessert. Everyone else just got a dish of honey ice cream, but I went for the assiette gourmande – the dessert equivalent of Nick’s planche.
The featured desserts were: honey ice cream (out of this world), cheesecake (lemony and slightly grainy, but I think it’s supposed to be that way), and chestnut custard (indulgent).
While we waited for the bill, we debated the meaning of the restaurant’s name. Apparently, a balbuzard is a small, scavenger bird, but we were unable to determine whether it was a buzzard, a vulture, or something else. Anybody know?
Originally published on Croque-Camille.