83 Rue Laugier, Paris
Dinner on Oct 19, 2004
A very far-flung restaurant located at the 17e (expect to walk 10 minutes from the nearest metro, or 30 minutes if you came out from the wrong one like I did). This snug little bistro, which hardly sits 30, is packed every night so reservation is very important. Young chef Philippe Tredgeu (from whom the name L’Entredgeu came) masters his sure-fire formula inherited from kitchens of Chez Michel’s and Chez Casimir’s well here. The price is very reasonable by Parisians’ standard: you can have a decent set dinner at a mere E28 in which you’ll have one entrée, one main course and one dessert whereby several items require you to dip in more. The menu changes daily and all dishes were displayed on a small blackboard. The décor of this outlet is as achetyepal as any old, homey bistro in Paris looks like: walls in creamy color hung on with a series of wore-out black and white pictures capturing the Parisian lives of yore.
The starter I ordered was a ‘blettes gratinees au brebis, oeuf poche et lard grille,’ grilled fat bacon with onions and egg served in a iron cast gratin pans dish with ears. The dish was artistically arranged into 3 layers. The bottom was the shredded and fried onions, the middle a poach egg and the top some grilled fat bacon. This is the kind of dish that marks the return of basic and hearty food in triumph. All the ingredients of this dish are easily up for grasp in the market. We all know sometimes the most basic and ordinary food is the food that’s hardest to master. Why? Because it leaves no veil for pretender and it leaves no room for window-dressing. Limp greens, someone ‘pureed’ it and our taste buds were betrayed. Musty meat, someone deep-fried it and our taste buds were deceived. But here, basic food prevailed. Poach eggs never lied, grilled bacons never lied and pan-seared onions never lied either. Every one of us is shrewd enough to tell whether they are cooked well and if they are cooked the way it should be. And I could tell the one I had here was damn good. These three ingredients were so different in characters yet mangled so well. Basic food, I was falling in love with it again.
The main course wan the pan-fried duck liver. The foie gras was served with a ladleful of morille laid beneath. While it was delectable and very generous in portion, it was a minor disappointment. I could only said it was marginally moist. Maybe I was expecting too much from a family-run bistro; or maybe I was just mislead by the tantalizing glimpse of the starter to think all food to come would be the same as good, if not better.
But the dessert shown Philippe Tredgeu was still in his elements in the kitchen. It was cheese ice cream and figs. A scoop of cheese ice cream was put on top a bed of poach figs in syrup reduction, laden with frost and served in the same kind of gratin dishes like the starter. The appearance was as homey as it was mellifluous. The ice cream was succulent while hot figs were pleasantly aromatic. Wow, it was so my kind of bliss.