Sunday, April 3, 2011


Not exactly a secret but new to me, La Truffiere (in the 5th at 4 rue Blainville, 75005 Paris  +33146332982) was a terrific place for my first meal on a five day spree. This despite the fact that truffles don't do it for me - in fact, truffles don't make the prix fixe lunch menu anyway. And prix fixe lunches are the most affordable way to sample high-end Paris. At today's euro/dollar exchange no meal is a steal but a 30 € lunch sounds acceptable if you skip the math. (Feeling flush? There is a 125 € option on the dinner menu.)

Reserve ahead (same day will probably do) to be certain of a warm welcome instead of an arched eyebrow. A wine case and the days' cheeses greet you when you enter. The cheese display puts you in a proper mood, further established once you are seated and the aperitif cart rolls up.

The 30 € menu is three courses: appetizer, main course and dessert. The same menu runs for a week or more and consists of either/or choices - you can't go to La Truffiere with anyone who needs a laundry list menu. For instance, we chose between a delicate vegetable assemblage (luscious) and a little salmon dish accompanied by cauliflower mousseline. My French being what it is (have more than once been surprised by the actuality of my order versus what I thought I selected from the menu*), I might not swear it was cauliflower but can attest to deliciousness. Main course choice on our visit was between a white fish with miniature greens and a confit of some sort (citron?) and a braised beef dish. The presentation was lovely and the tastes matched. Serving sizes were perfect for lunch. We left not a even a shred of arugula.

The choice range is broader for dessert with a cheese or sorbet plate as well as two composed desserts. The sorbets were lovely but the knockout was a blood-orange jelly with a mousse-like topping. The blood-orange flavor reappeared in the post-dessert mini-cookies. The long, narrow plate with six tiny treats featured two fabulous blood-orange macarons.

La Truffiere is well known for its wines and truffles and it was obvious that our neighbors at the next table were going for it all, price no object. I think the advantage here is that the kitchen is going to do fine work for that price-is-no-object table and we, sticking to the 30€ menu, will benefit from the same skills. We did.

notes: La Truffiere is in a fabulous walk-around neighborhood, near the Pantheon.

* the funniest was in a Provencal seafood restaurant where the menu said, according to my interpretation, large Mediterranean fillet with something crispy about it. Out came a huge mound of tiny, pungent, whole, fried, staring fish. A real challenge.

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