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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Biondi - No Clowning Around

Named after a famous Argentine clown (we had to ask), Fernando De Tomaso's Biondi is a great find in the 11th, an Argentine restaurant where non-meat items vie with the more obvious meats.  Working the room along with a couple assistants, Fernando De Tomaso, the chef and owner of La Pulperia (sadly, not yet reviewed here) has created a good vibe in a handsome space.  If I was going to open a bistrot, god forbid, this is pretty close to what my fabulous place would look like: stone walls, mirrors, wooden tables, a small tiled bar, an open kitchen -- a nifty combination of modern and rustic, kind of like the food.

On a nice Fall Friday evening, Co. and I pondered this carte, which unfortunately was all a la carte, my only real gripe of the evening.  As you should know by now, clicking on the image will actually make it readable, more or less:

After a spirited amuse bouche of poultry/porc terrine, accompanied by a basket of terrific country bread, Co. and I decided to play the paupers and split an entree, the poulpe a la braise-choux rouge, pomme de terre, Kalmata (16€).  Very nice.

Poulpe entree

Later in the evening, I noticed that one of the two young gentlemen sitting at the table to my right had a much larger portion, with some poulpe actually encroaching on the yang part to my yin.  I was pretty upset about that until I heard the words "double portion," which put me back at ease, although the wine ( a 27€ Bicicleta pinot noir) was doing a pretty good job of that anyway.

For the main dish, I opted for the chicken, or in more familiar terms, the volaille de bresse croustillant with betterave, epinard, and truffe de bourgogne (30€).  Bear in mind, I was interested in how this was prepared - chicken breast, thigh, bones, etc., but my bemused waiter took me aback by asking, 'what do you mean, how is it prepared?'  WTF?  Well, excusez-moi for asking, although I did learn that Bresse is an area of France near the Rhône-Alpes region.  Which also told me that the folks behind Biondi go to the market, including the Marche d'Aligre Beauvau off rue de Cotte, in the morning for fresh produce and vegetables.

At any rate, the chicken dish was first rate.  I was underwhelmed when it was brought to the table, but once into it, the little mountain of beets and spinach unraveled to reveal two pieces of chicken differently cooked   than the thin piece of breast that was more apparent.  Together, the combination was perfectly prepared and interesting.

Main dish - volaille, beets, spinach

Co., by contrast, a regular habitue of Buenos Aires, went with real meat - the wild boar dish - sanglier a la braise, chou rouge, and chataigne - accompanied by potatoes and the other items listed on the menu, including chimichurri, one of my favorite sauces and one of the main reason I go along for the ride with Co. to tango country, although it wasn't very evident in the dish (28€).

Now, bear in mind that the only time I've ever been around wild boar is when I attend sporting matches, only in those cases, boar is spelled boor.  Co., on the other hand, knows her sanglier, but not this time.  She had to ask the waiter if they hadn't made a mistake.  No, madame, was the answer, this was a special meat purchased at the market earlier in the day and 100% wild boar.  Don't get me wrong, Co. thoroughly enjoyed the dish, and discovered that, like snowflakes, not all wild boars are alike.

Main dish - sanglier, chou rouge, chataigne

For dessert, we went with the first two of three on the carte.  My nougat glace (8€) was hands down the best I've ever had, and I've had some pretty good ones over the years.  More nutty than fruity, and more copious than the photo suggests, plenty for Co. to test.  Co. had no complaints regarding the declinaison, which hit all the right notes (10€).

Dessert - an epic, homemade nougat glace

Dessert - declinaison de dulce de leche, glace, mousse

Even a la carte, the final price, including one cafe at the end, was more than reasonable, clocking in at 122€.  Biondi hits the spot on Amelot.  Relaxed atmosphere, but serious business, no clowning around.  And before I forget, you can reserve an upstairs room for a special party or two.

118 rue Amelot
75011 Paris
tel. 01 47 00 90 18
web: www.facebook.com/restaurantblondi

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