A couple of months ago, I mentioned that a daring French chef reintroduced British beef to Paris.
Given the culinary patriotism of my Parisian contemporaries, it could have ended in financial ruin for the chef in question, Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec.
Instead he became the toast of the town, with the likes of BBC running magazine stories about him.
I tried to make a reservation for weeks. I found two telephone numbers for the place. One was never answered and after five or six rings, you got a recording stating that the voice mailbox was full.
I thought it was either obnoxious or pretentious depending on the intent behind it.
The other number was mentioned in one of the reviews. I tried it and it seemed to connect to the kitchen directly. Once someone answered and he sounded surprised that I managed to reach them. He put me on hold and never came back on line. A couple of other times when someone picked up the phone, I was told that they were full.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I asked a fiend of mine who was visiting and staying at a pricey hotel to get the concierge to make a reservation for four. He did and we got our table on a Saturday evening.
the decor and the ambiance are not in line with the restaurant's off putting interface. As you can see in the picture, the walls are unadorned white brick and the tables are unassuming basic brasserie fair.
And our overworked waitress remained chipper and helpful throughout the evening despite having to look after ten or more tables.
As for the food, we each decided to try a different cut of meat.
One of us got a filet. She reported that it was excellent. Two of us settled on entrecotes or rib-eye and my friend who got us our table declared that it was the best entrecote he tasted. And he knows his meat.
I opted for aged faux-filet or sirloin following the recommendation of our waitress. It was tender and succulent.
In short, British beef is as good as Le Bourdonec claims and the French Federation Nationale Bovine are out to lunch.
The accompanying sauces were imaginative and well prepared. So were the sides dishes (which went beyond fries to include Mac and Cheese).
But for me the surprise of the evening was the desert.
I am perennially curious about how different restaurants handle profiteroles and whenever I see them on a menu I compulsively order them. As you know, profiterole is the traditional French desert, which consists of choux pastry (pate à choux) balls filled with ice cream and served with hot chocolate sauce. Some places might substitute ice cream with pastry cream but the general idea remains the same.
At Le Beef Club they served a deconstructed version of this well known desert. The choux pastry was flat and formed the bottom layer. They placed a generous scoop of ice cream on top of that. Then they topped this with whipped cream (I know, when I saw it I winced too). And on top of that they had a crunchy almond layer shaped like a small cup covering up the whipped cream. In a strange way, the whole thing looked like a burger with ice cream being the patty.
We were told that you were supposed to eat the crunchy almond lid first and pour hot chocolate sauce on the rest of the burg...er.. profiterole.
The almond lid was unusual and very tasty. The whipped cream made sense once we poured the hot chocolate sauce. It delayed the melting of the ice cream and kept it hard longer. And the choux pastry did not become soggy even as we took our time finishing our deserts.
The piece de resistance was the chocolate sauce. It was dark chocolate flavored with whiskey and mixed with crunchy pralines.
If someone described that desert to me I would be highly dubious. So it is perfectly understandably if you feel unconvinced.
My suggestion would be to come to Paris and try it for yourself.
If you can get a reservation, that is.