September 16, 2014
On September 9, 2014, Jean and his son Thomas invited Linda and me to dinner at Allard. Albert and Marthe Allard took over this bistro in 1932 and built its reputation in its Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. Marthe was a “mother cook,” a Burgundy peasant with family recipes. After the war, under the next generation, André and his wife Fernande, who took on Marthe’s recipes, Allard became famous and served many celebrities. The Allard family sold the restaurant in 1985 and a slow decline set in. Alain Ducasse took Allard over in July 2013 and has brought it back to its era of serving top quality traditional bistro cuisine.
I took this photo from my place at the table shortly after we sat down. The room eventually almost filled up. On the bar you can see glasses of Champagne about to be delivered to our table as apéritif. Below them is a big mound of good butter, slices of which were served with the bread basket.
We took advantage of a special promotion: Grands crus served in carafes in the four Alain Ducasse Parisian bistros:
The first was
2008 – GRANDS-ECHEZEAUX – Domaine Thénard (Rouge).
This was rich, complex and very good.
The second wine was
2010 – CORTON – LES GRANDES LOLIÈRES – Domaine Capitain-Gagnerot (Rouge).
This was nice, but did not have the character of the first wine.
The first course for Linda and Thomas was
12 escargots en coquilles, beurre aux fines herbes
This is a very traditional Burgundian dish. Here the garlic was played down in favor of substantial green herbs in butter.
Jean and I had a seasonal special of the evening
Cocotte de cèpes bouchon
Cèpes, called porcini in English and Italian, are a prized seasonal wild mushroom. When they are gathered young, still firm and in the shape of a Champagne cork, they are called cèpes de bouchon. Here they were prepared in the traditional way, simply sautéed in butter and olive oil with a bit of garlic and parsley. Very good. The secret of this dish is having reliable suppliers of top quality produce.
Linda, Thomas and I had another seasonal offering
Canard colvert aux figues et cèpes, sauce salmis
The breasts of the mallard ducks were red on the inside with crispy skin on top. The legs were very crisp. After roasting, they had been reheated, along with cèpes and whole figs, in a rich wine-based sauce that was just right with the lusciousness of the duck breasts and figs. We could affirm that the mallards were wild when Linda found a shot in hers.
My dessert was
Savarin au rhum, Chantilly peu fouettée
Two slices were cut from a crown-shaped rich yeast cake. They were served with fresh, light whipped cream. I could soak them from a bottle of excellent aged Martinique rum. Savarins and babas au rhum are a signature dish in many Alain Ducasse restaurants.
On the way out we passed by the grill section of the kitchen by the front door. Thomas, Linda and Jean stopped for their photo before we walked back to our hotel through the rue de Buci, teeming with young Parisians enjoying the lovely evening at outdoor restaurants and cafés.
We had a very good time and thoroughly enjoyed our well prepared meal. The fidelity to tradition was remarkable at Allard now, including the old French style of serving plates put on the table. The service was good, the noise level low and the ambiance just right. There are still many of us who greatly appreciate these attributes. By chance, this is my second blogpost in a row featuring traditional French cuisine. I hope that there will be more.