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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Les Deserteurs - Ex-Rino Rises to the Top

A superb Friday dinner in May with NJ-->TX-->Paris friends at the once Rino restaurant in the 11th - quite simply, there is little not to like about Les Deserteurs.  Just don't make the mistake I did and keep your phone off the day of your reservation - space is limited at Les Deserteurs and demand is high, so if they can't get in touch with you during the day to get a confirmation, the folks who run the venue will be very distressed.  Fortunately, an hour and a half before show time, I did confirm. I learned our table was held, but they were obliged to schedule a second serving just in case at 10 pm.  Completely understandable, and I appreciated how they handled the situation.  Everyone was gracious when we arrived, and the servers were attentive, informative, and willing to switch between French and English throughout the evening.  The four of us were seated in one of the few tables in the front room across from the open kitchen, which was fine with me - in the center of the action, but still remote enough from other diners to be able to maintain our conversations unimpeded by neighbors breathing down our necks.

Photo taken off Google images so you get the idea
As is often the case at the neo-bistrots of Les Deserteurs' ilk, the menu was fixed and short-term.  Diners have the choice of a 6 plate (60€) or 4 plate (45€) dinner, and here's the cool part - not everyone at the table need partake of the same option.  We went with three of the former and one of the latter, along with two bottles of a very satisfying Rioja at 35€ a bottle.  The bill was boosted by a whopping 30€ supplement for the beef special of the day dish, which by obligation, must be shared by two diners.  Okay, I hope all that is clear - it adds up to a total cost of 325€ for four, and given the quality of the meal, it was worth every cent.  Below, you'll find the carte and accompanying photos of the dishes, although I think that should be pretty obvious if you just scroll down.

If you click on the photo it will enlarge and be perfectly readable

This would be the rhubarb,

Impressive rendering of an asparagus spear from Corsica

This unimposing piece of lotte was undoubtedly the best dish I've had all year

Not a very flattering shot of the beef, but the Texas pros at the table swore it was epic

Lemon in all its states - one or two of the states might have been missing, but the important ones were there

This dish almost seemed superfluous after all the gorging, but it merited greater attention than we gave it

There you have it - fine dining in all its states.  I enjoyed Rino, the two or three times I ate there.  The kitchen was competent and creative, but never really memorable.  Its replacement, Les Deserteurs, merits high praise for a memorable meal.  As it turned out, the confirmation snafu had little impact on our table lingering - by well past 10 pm, I asked our host why we hadn't been kicked out yet and he explained that he used some 'magique' to avoid that unpleasant possibility (he seated the second serving at another table that was vacated earlier).

Why the name?  Apparently, the team behind Les Deserteurs - led by Daniel Baratier (chef) and Alexandre Céret (sommelier) - deserted Le Sergent Recruteur to strike out on their own.

46 Rue Trousseau
75011 Paris
tel: 01 48 06 95 85

Reserve at least 3 weeks in advance and, by all means, confirm the day of your reservation.

Graffito around the corner from Les Deserteurs
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