Le Soleil

November 24, 2006

109 Avenue Michelet, 01 40 10 08 08,

www.restaurantlesoleil.com 

Sunday in Paris, and the shops at the not-to-be-missed antique market at Saint-Ouen are buzzing. Never have we seen as many, and as high quality, shops as we encountered out here. There must be in excess of 350 of them and they range from good to very good, selling everything used from jewelry to large furniture and just about everything in between for every taste from Louis Quinze to mid-Twentieth Century. Gary collects silver and crystal cocktail shakers since they are rarely found therefore giving him a reason to look but hardly ever to buy.  His strategy didn’t work this time and he was forced to add one piece to his collection (at about half of what he usually “invests”) reviving his interest in these treasures.Our friends and “tour guides for our St.-Ouen venture,” David and Frédérique, lived in Paris for almost a decade and knew just the right place to pop in for lunch at an old haunt next to the market.Le Soleil, a restaurant that spotlights food of the Cote d’Azur seemed a rather unimaginative choice for four people taking a Paris break from Nice and Monaco, but it turns out that we don’t have anything in the South quite like this warm, friendly and delicious restaurant.As we sat down and waited for the bread to be served, David, with a twinkle in his eyes, alerted us to the arrival of their signature conceit. Out came a yellow mound, about the size of half a soccer ball, and a grand way to present about the tastiest butter one can imagine, fresh from Normandy that morning. And, the bread matched it in quality. So much for Montignac’s diet.We all chose the €28 menu and then did some damage to the yellow mound. The amuse bouche was lightly smoked ham on toast. David and Gary both started with the herring with potatoes and onions, which came out in a gigantic bowl. It was so good they managed to work their way through all of it. Frédérique raved about her foie gras with toasted brioche, so we all had to taste it. To complete this course for the table, Varian chose an unusual, but delicious, aioli of sea snails on potatoes.For the main course, Gary veered from the pack and quite liked his pave maigre with spinach while the rest of us dug into our lamb noisettes. Since there were four of us, we decided to order each of the four desserts offered this Sunday and share the tastes. Of course, there was a chocolate one which was superb. The fruit was just OK as was the baba au rhum, but the meringues which were to be eaten with your fingers, accompanied by cream, were a rare treat. and, the wine: so good and so plentiful, we forgot to take notes, but do remember that it was the server’s choice and inexpensive and superb. May you be so well served.Coincidentally, when we were on the Left Bank that night, we happened to pass what we think is le Soleil’s new branch (or sister) location at 153 rue de Grenelle. Try it here and save the €15 taxi ride to St-Ouen. They surely will have their signature butter serving and probably the same type of menu, possibly even the same prices which would make it a good buy for that area. No promises for the new location, but make sure you get to St-Ouen to compare.

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