Our last night in Paris brought us to the most unique bistro of our trip: Les Papilles (http://www.lespapillesparis.fr/EN_index.html). We discovered this part wine shop/part culinary paradise when reading a July NY Times article, "Alive and Evolving: The Paris Bistro" (http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/travel/05choice.html).
The bistro is a wine shop by day and a bistro by night. The set menu includes a soup, main course, cheese course, and dessert for 31 euros. Diners select their wine from the plethora available on the shelves throughout the shop and for a small corkage fee (7 euro) enjoy it with the meal. The wine bins on the right doubled as a table for our bread. It was a really interesting and well executed concept and great to peruse the wine selection in between courses.
As for our wine selection, we decided to try another Burgundy since we would be heading there the next morning and ambled over to that section of the shop, reached behind the diners seated there, and made our selection. This 1996 Burgundy was the oldest vintage we drank on the trip, and was more tannic and complex than the night before, standing up well to the hearty meal in front of us.
The soup of the evening was a cream of celery with celery, celery root, lardons, potatoes, creme fraiche, and a sprinkling of herbs. The presentation was great, with the ingredients of the dish served separately and accompanied by a large terrine of the soup base. B and I both loved this rich, layered soup, that really warmed us up after the walk from the metro.
The main course, served in a piping hot copper pot, was a rich, tomato based pork stew with huge chunks of pork, lardons, black olives, potatoes, onions, carrots, and thyme. It was hearty and the non-traditional inclusion of the olives added depth. The pork tasted as though it had been roasting all day and was fork tender. And, I was thrilled that the vegetables were tender, but not mushy -- a fine balance to strike. As hard as we tried, we could not finish it all.
Next, came our first cheese course of the trip. I must say I love this element of dinner. And as dinners stretch for hours, you really have time to savor and enjoy. This course consisted of apple compote, a creamy camambert, and mixed greens in a balsamic vinaigrette.
Dessert was a chocolate ganache (denser than mousse but with that same intense chocolate flavor) and a caramel foam which was light and almost airless in texture, adding a wonderful depth of flavor to the chocolate.
The kitchen in which all of this is turned out is a tiny galley space with two chefs. The owner who we were fortunate enough to speak to, noted that this is the reason for the set menu. And it is the owner and one other server who ably man the dining room.
The all inclusive tab was about 100 euro; dinner for two in a wine shop was priceless!