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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mort’s One-Month Hiatus Highlights

More than one month without a blog installment – one would think Mortstiff & Co.
have starved to death. Au contraire, other preoccupations have intervened, such as my day job and a one-week trip to Slovenia, but that hasn’t prevented me from one of my favorite pasttimes--visiting restaurants. A little bit older, a lot fewer memory cells in the brain, but I’ll try to briefly summarize the highlights of my dining experiences during my non-blogospheric period. It may not surprise, but I have absolutely nothing to contribute about the restaurant scene in Slovenia. Stuck out in the countryside, a hop, skip, and jump from the Croatian border, there weren’t many options. Not to say that I didn’t eat well, but it wasn’t exactly fine dining either. A couple novelty dishes, such as soya goulash and massacred potatos, were more interesting for their butchered English translations than taste.

Back in France, the time spent consisted mostly of returns to some past haunts. After the satisfying first trip to L’Ourcine (see January 31), our second trip turned out to reflect a sophomore jinx. Could be my disappointment can be attributed to a limited menu of offerings that just didn’t appeal to my ever demanding palette. With a regularly changing carte, that could be rectified next visit, assuming there is a next visit. Also less impressive than usual was a return trip to La Cave Gourmande, but don’t get me wrong – it was still very good.
The audacious chef Mark Singer came to our table to ask whether we were aware that our wine selection – a 1999 Cotes du Ventoux – was a rather strong choice to accompany our fish entrees. Well, Mortstiff & Co. have been working on a case at home, so you might say we are rapidly becoming Ventoux aficionados. Rather than demure, we insisted, but it was a pretty amusing exchange. Our efficient and pleasant waitress frantically explained that her boss was not insane, just a bit eccentric.

The most satisfying meal during the hiatus had to be a return to Le Villaret, in the 11th, not far from Place de la Republique. To date, Le Villaret is hands down my favorite Paris bistrot. I’ve probably frequented the place between 20-30 times, and I have never had a poor or mediocre meal there. I keep putting it off, but eventually I’ll write a more complete description. Just to say that my visit this time, with a friend visiting from ‘down under’ was terrific on several levels – quality of the food, wine, ambiance, and service. Zagat’s calls it ‘a hidden jewel’ – I would not disagree.

13, Rue Ternaux
75011 Paris
+33 1 43 57 89 76

10, Rue Gén Brunet 75019 Paris
tel. +33 1 40 40 03 30

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