Friday, January 27

2012 is going to be nasty because hogs love the mud

If one thought the push polls and rumor campaigns in South Carolina during the South Carolina Presidential Primary were bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Look at how Romney and Gingrich go at each other in Florida. Fact checkers catch both their campaigns in flat out lies about each other. Yet millions of dollars continue to be spent in promoting those allegations.
Frankly, such political nonsense, from all types of campaigns is allowed to go on because both mainstream and blog media types sternly tell us it is not about the facts, it is about the seriousness of the charge. Let that sink in. Some politico either paid to do so or with some personal agenda concocts some charge, leaks it to a few bloggers in the know, and then the media, out of both laziness and the desire to be in the center of things, run with the "allegation" story.

Those allegation stories are created by political consultants to define the opponent. It does not matter to them if the matter is true or not. What matters is creating an image of the opponent to run against. Campaigns are no longer about ideas or running against who an opposing candidate really is. They have become about saying anything to create an image that can be defeated. It is at all levels of politics and robs people of a real choice in politics and it is part of the reason this country is in the mess it is in. Political operatives of all stripes are guilty. And, it happens at all levels.

A case in point is the State Senate race in Lexington County. Blogger Will Folks, known for his on again off again support of Nikki Haley and her cohorts and her agenda and for a sense of the sensational, ran a recent blog post about State Senator Jakie Knotts. The allegations in the post had all the elements of a tailored made allegation to attempt to create an image of Knotts to run against for Katrina Shealy, a Haley cohort running against Knotts.

Folks reported that Knotts was alleged to have “roughed up” a prostitute years ago in a motor home at a flea market. The elements make it seem consultant made. First, Shealy wants to define Knotts as a hothead, out of control. Thus he roughed up a woman. Shealy also wants to define Knotts as sleazy, so it’s a prostitute he roughs up. Third, Shealy wants to define Knotts as a redneck, so the alleged encounter is in a motor home parked at a flea market. Further, Folks tips his hand in the matter by quoting an anonymous source supporting Knotts who refers to the Governor and her husband and “titty bars,” again reemphasizing the point about Knotts and his supporters as redneck and sleazy. There is an offhand remark in the post about being able to prove the charge, but the damage is done, and the message is out there.

This post is not to pick on Mr. Folks or the Shealy campaign. They are just doing what they do. However, as such things continue to happen at all levels of politics, true debates on issues are lost. Good people with sense avoid public service. And, that pleases those in it just fine. It has happened in America before. America suffered through some sorry Presidents and politicians during the era of the muckracker and yellow journalism when the newspaper became a new modern media. The internet media is now going through that phase and political operatives are taking advantage of it.

The problem now is that the state and nation are in real trouble. In other such trying times, politicos and media types were jolted to sift through the manure and give people real choices. But, this year that is not likely to happen. There is too much money to be made and too many egos for those types to put the state and country first. The election of 2012 is going to be nasty, false and people are going to make choices based on whatever some well paid consultant or blogger comes up with next. VUI hopes to be proved wrong by political leaders and media types, but realistically, it’s not likely. Hogs love the mud too much.

Monday, January 23

La Fontaine de Mars -- Restaurant Review

La Fontaine de Mars

129, rue Saint-Dominique
Telephone: 01 47 05 46 44

Website: "La fontaine"
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  4 - Stars............................................. (a la carte)............................................1 - Bell

This restaurant has existed since 1908 and specializes in southwest French cuisine, (e.g., confit de canard and/or cassoulet). The restaurant is actually quite large, since there is also an upstairs area. It’s a typically Parisian styled restaurant. And, it’s one of the few restaurants that is actually open for lunch on Sundays.

There was originally suppose to be five of us for lunch; unfortunately, one of our friends had to go out of town unexpectedly and another was sick. But the restaurant didn’t seem to mind at all that we were going to be less than expected.

We started off with some aperitifs of kirs (casis and peche), while Just Jack had a traditional pastis. 

We perused the menu. They do not have a pre-fix menu.  And, although they had a Sunday lunch special of roast chicken with mashed potatoes (20€), and they also had their specialty of "confit de canard, and cassoulet, it just sounded too heavy at the time, so we opted for something different.

Tête de veau salad

For starters: Our friend Mimi ordered the tête de veau salad with potatoes.  We all tasted it and agreed it was really, really delicious, it was cooked beautifully.

Game terrine with fig chutney

Jack had the game terrine with fig chutney. This terrine was good, but nothing to write home about.

Poached egg with foie gras in a cream sauce

I had the special trio of bad-for-your-health poached egg, cream and foie gras.  Oh my God, I just died and went to heaven, but what a way to go. It’s difficult to serve a hot dish with a poached egg, because oftentimes the egg is overcooked and becomes semi-hard rather than coddled.  This was cooked to perfection.

Sea bass

For our plat, Mimi had the sea bass with leeks and with specks of truffles.  The fish was excellent, crispy skin and tender white flesh.  However, Mimi thought the leeks were a bit salty for her liking.

Black pudding

Just Jack had the “black pudding” (boudin noir) served with apples. Surprisingly, when you think of boudin, you think of sausage; however, it was served without the “casing.” I have to say, I really liked this dish a lot because it was the first time I had it served this way, and I’ve always liked foods with a crispy exterior and tender interior, which was the case for this particular dish.

St. Pierre fish with tomato confit

I had the fish “St. Pierre”, otherwise known as “John Dory” fish with a confit of tomatoes.  Loved, loved this dish. Very simple, but tasty in its delivery.

At this point we were actually all full for dessert, but opted to share a cheese plate of a nice hard sheep cheese, brie and a chevre.

And, the service was EXCELLENT! 

In summary, I liked this restaurant a lot.  Would I recommend it, “biên sur”, I would go back in a heartbeat. It’s not an inexpensive restaurant.  For the three of us for lunch the bill came to 193€, this included the aperitifs and 3 'pots' (jars) of their house wines, which by the way were excellent at 12€ a jar (maybe 50-60cl).

Newt had his Reagan moment in South Carolina

Back in 1980, the former Governor of California, Ronald Reagan had a moment in a New Hampshire debate where he expressed disgust with the moderator and it propelled Reagan to the nomination and the Presidency.  

You can see Reagan's moment of frustration here. 

And here is Newt Gingrich's comparable moment.

Gingrich's outrage matched Reagan's in a campaign dealing with hard national times. Being angry with nonsense is how people feel, including Republicans and Independents. If you want to know why Gingrich won so big in South Carolina, look no further. This moment won the race.

Saturday, January 21

A helluva Presidential Primary

As predicted by the staff of VUI, this has been one helluva of a primary season in South Carolina.  We have received emails about Ron Paul not supporting marriage, Newt Gingrich wanting an open marriage and wanting one of his wives to commit an abortion, and Rick Santorum being in the mafia and his wife having an affair with an abortion doctor.  And, then there was the stuff about Mitt Romney,not only do his attackers call him liberal, they offer that he does not believe in Christ and believes in 12 Gods in 12 universes.  We are not kidding.  That is the stuff pitched to us to urgently run with. 

We ran with none of it.  As VUI predicted, this is the ugliest Presidential primary in South Carolina history.  Falsified emails, hit mail peaces and constant robo calls have been the political staple of late. 

The nonsense is not limited to emails to political bloggers.  The mail and phone calls to South Carolina voters has been bombarding.  Good people who dare to have voted in previous primaries have been subjected to constant mail and phone calls.  Folks can not eat their dinners in peace without some robo call interrupting it.  It does not even stop there.  VUI has learned that a Midlands school district office has had to deal with robo calls to one of their phone lines.  In other words, people who work for the taxpayers have to waste their time answering such calls.  Now, that is conservative, right?

Frankly, whomever wins the South Carolina Presidential Primary will leave South Carolina bloodied and battered.  The only real winners will be the people of South Carolina, who will be finally relieved of all the nonsense that they have been dealing with lately and President Obama, who looks better as as the mud storm continues. 

Thursday, January 12

Betting on South Carolina

Every four years it seems South Carolina goes through this.  Presidential candidates, especially Republican ones, show up for meet and greets throughout the state wearing either blue jeans or khakis and open collars.  Told, of course, by some consultant, that us folks down South have to be catered to.  You know us hayseeds love our blue jeans.  

It is almost comedic to see some guy like Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich with their casual clothes saying things like "you all."  The national media chimes right in, talking about how South Carolina has to be appealed to.  

Fair enough.  But, the negative nature of the ad campaign in the next week or so will really be uniquely South Carolinian.  Millions of dollars from Morman businessmen will flow into the Super Pac for Mitt Romney to attack Newt Gingrich and whomever else Romney's allies sees as a threat.  Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich has a Super Pac funded partially by billionaire Sheldon Adelson that promises to spend over three million dollars in South Carolina exposing Mitt Romney's business practices.  Others are certain to follow suit.  In other words, it will be political ad silly season in South Carolina from now until January 21st.  

Such is not new to South Carolina.  Outside billionaires such as Howard Rich have tried to influence Palmetto State Republican politics for years.  Some say Governors Sanford and Haley are the Governors from Rich, not South Carolina.  

As insulting as the wardrobe changes, the bad use of colloquial language, and the money from outsiders on negative ads is to South Carolinians with common sense, the truth remains such things have worked in the past in South Carolina Presidential Primaries and are likely to work again this year.  The big money from all sides in the Presidential race are betting on it.  They are betting on South Carolina being South Carolina. 

And it going to get nasty in South Carolina.  There will be an onslaught of negative ads.  There will be push poll phone calls.  There will be negative mail outs.  The next week will likely make the battle between George W. Bush and John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 look like a church social debate. 

One thing is certain though.  Win, lose or draw, Mitt Romney needs to drop the attempt at being a Southern Good Ole Boy.  At least the President can drink a Coke.  Besides, good ole boys don't wear tailored made blue jeans with their tailored made open collar button down shirt.  Those are the kind of clothes some yankee wears when he comes down here to shut a plant down and lay off people.  Besides, this Southerner likes the idea of someone wanting to be President actually wearing a tie.  It shows he takes the office seriously. After all we are not selecting someone to be the spokesman for Old Navy or the Six o'clock News weatherman, we are selecting someone to run for President of the United States.  It would be refreshing if the candidates acted like that instead of betting on those of us in South Carolina to be the embodiment of their stereotypes about us. 

Monday, January 9


Address: 16-18 Place Gaillon, 75002 Paris
Nearest transport: L'Opera
Telephone: 01 42 65 15 16


Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  2.5 - Stars............................................. (prix fixe menu)............................................1 - Bell

We went for a late lunch at Drouant. Prior to going, I read several reviews, and it’s pretty much all over the map.  With an open mind, I went and joined my regular foodie companions, Just Jack, Marie, Loui, and our new friend Wendy.

The restaurant has a lot of greenery on the outside and looks quite lovely. As you step in, the first thing that came to mind, it’s not very French.  It seemed more American than anything else, with its spacious rooms and very large individual tables.  In fact, it’s a little more upscale than our usual go to places for lunch.  I felt somewhat under-dressed, oh well.  The maitre’d immediately asked to take my jacket and seated me promptly.

Interior of Drouant
My accent must’ve been pretty bad, because they gave me an English/French menu.  They have a prefix menu for 44€. I was taking a photo of the menu, and our waitperson said I could keep it, how nice, but she told the others, jokingly I was the only one who could keep the menu. Flattery will get you everywhere.  No expenses were spared for the written menu. Very glossy and elegant looking. Almost like a fancy wedding invitation.

Glossy 3-part menu in English or French

They also have daily specials. And, being Monday, the special was a venison stew with celery puree.  For the pre-fix lunch menu, you could have the following:  for the entrée you could select a salad with bacon and eggs, or a consommé de canard. For the plat, you could order a canard poêlé, a rôti au jambon, or a veau.  And, for dessert you have a choice of a chocolat et praliné or a galette de rois, after all it is January…

We all opted to go a la carte.   

Langoustine bisque

Marie had the langoustine soup. I tasted it and loved it. It wasn’t as creamy as I anticipated nor as thick as most bisque are; the consistency for me was perfect and it had a nice strong langoustine taste. I could immediately tell that they used the whole langoustine to flavor the broth, because I distinctly tasted the “mustard” or as we say in the U.S. "tomalley."


Beet Salad

Jack had the beet salad, and he loved it, stating it was very, very good.  Wendy and I shared the “4-corners of the world” entrée, which consisted of lacquered shrimp with raita, falafel with sesame, steamed John dory, and a buffalo mozzarella with pesto and grilled pistachios.  It was a really nice combination of different flavors.  Net-net the entrées were good.

We had a bottle of "Chateau Ame de Musset--2007" at 58€, which the whole group loved. 

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Marie had the goose accompanied with a sausage. I tasted the goose and sausage. I liked the sausage, it was moist and tasty; however, someone forgot the  "braising 101" rule. Braising meat too long can turn meats into very dry and sometimes "stringy" meat.  It seems almost contradictory, since one would think that braising or boiling meats for long periods would soften and keep meats moist. On the contrary, braised or boiled meats should also be looked after, and once it's just tender, it should be removed. There comes a time when the meat reaches a "no point of return"; too dry and/or stringy. Unfortunately, the goose in this case was both dry and stringy.

Venison Stew

Loui had the venison stew. At first glance, it did not look appealing to me at all. I had a little taste of it.  I personally did not like this dish.  It was stewed so long that the wine actually became bitter and perhaps the wine used was a strong "oak" flavored wine which intensified its bitterness.  The meat was very dry and stringy as well. 

Melange of meats

Jack had originally ordered the blood sausage with a saddle of hare, but they did not have it.  So, instead he got a mélange of different grilled meats.  Jack felt it was just indescribable and just OK, nothing special and almost dull in taste and presentation.


Wendy got the scallops. She felt the scallops were great!

Pork Belly

I had the crunchy pork belly.  The large piece of pork belly was accompanied with filets of pork, which were actually quite good and delicious.  However, the large piece of pork belly which included the skin and a little bit of the fat was not as crispy as I would’ve liked and the fat was not as creamy as it could’ve been.  It should have been braised longer with maybe a little crisping of the skin under a salamander/broiler, or even fried. 

We all got a side of different vegetable casseroles accompanying our dishes.  A carrot and cabbage dish, braised endive, pureed squash and pureed turnips. And, later they gave us a fifth, which was a buttered creamy spinach which I enjoyed a lot. But I'm a sucker for anything spinach.

Accompanying side dishes
The portions were quite large, so we opted to forego dessert, and had coffee instead. But to our pleasant surprise, they gave us a few chocolate truffles with a confit of sliced orange.

In summary, it’s not a typical Parisian restaurant, and could literally be any place in the world.  And, that includes the food as well.  The service is excellent, from the maitre'd to the wait staff as well as the bus-people.  The entrées were hits; however, most of our plats were questionable. Personally, I was not boiled over by the food, it was just uninspiring, and just OK. , I was really surprised that the "braised" dishes were executed so poorly. As Loui stated, “I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.” However, at those prices I expected more.

The bill for 5 of us came to almost €300 which included 2 glasses of white wine and a bottle of red wine.

Would I go back? probably not. However, if you do go, Marie recommends trying the special order items such as the steak au poivre.

Thursday, January 5

South Carolina to be Texas Governor Rick Perry's Alamo Stand

The battle of the Alamo was fought in Texas back in March of 1836.  Leading the soldiers of the Texas Republic who would all die in that battle was South Carolina native William Travis.  One of the last letters that Travis managed to get out from the besieged Alamo was marked on the envelope "Victory or Death" and its contents described how he thought he was doing God's Will.  

So it is fitting that the Governor of Texas makes his grand stand in South Carolina.  Rick Perry made very big gaffes in debates and came in fifth in Iowa.  Perry has little chance of doing better in New Hampshire.  The situation caused Governor Perry to pause for a moment to reassess his chances.  Then, he chose to come stand in South Carolina. 

It is not a bad political move.  South Carolina has not warmed to Mitt Romney.  Rick Santorum is the flavor of the week in the GOP, but his lack of money and organization could derail his dream of being the challenger to Romney for the nomination. Bachman is out of the race and Gingrich seems to be staying in to go after Romney.  Paul is a spoiler at best. 

Thus, Rick Perry makes his stand in South Carolina.  If Perry somehow wins the Palmetto State, his money and contacts, and frankly, his record as Governor of Texas, all come into play and present a real challenge to Romney as the campaign heads into Florida and beyond. 

So its victory or Presidential political death for Governor Perry in South Carolina.  We are guessing Governor Perry would have it no other way.  After all, where better for a Texas Governor to either win or go down swinging than the state that gave Texas one of its greatest heroes?

Tuesday, January 3

Can a man who believes drinking coffee and tea is a sin be elected President?

The results in Iowa are good news for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  He will finish in the top two, with upstarts Rick Santorum and Ron Paul close to him.  As things stand at this posting, it is Romney, Santorum and Paul, in that order.  

That is good news for Romney.  Romney should have a solid win in the New Hampshire.  That will give him momentum going into South Carolina.  But, there is where the questions will start.  

We ask the most basic of questions, will people vote for a President who thinks that drinking coffee and tea are a sin?  Romney is a devout Morman, not some lip serving follower, and according to the Word of Wisdom, supposedly revealed to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon faith, by God, the consumption of tea and coffee is a sin.  So is the consumption of a Coca Cola.  

Now in the South, even the most devout among us like  a good cup of coffee in the morning and iced tea or Coca Cola with our meals.  Think about it.  Millions work hard every day, pray to God, go to Church, tithe, and are loyal to their families.  Yet, according to the Mormons they live in sin because they have a cup of coffee in the morning or drink a Coca Cola.  

Do not get VUI wrong, if Mormons want to believe that, so be it.  They are not lesser human beings for doing so.  But, do we want the leader who represents all of us to be someone who has beliefs that are so contrary to the rest of American values? 

Further, the irony is the Tea Party.  The consumption of tea is so ingrained in our history, both Southern and Northern.  It was the tax on tea that led to the real Tea Party before the American Revolution.  Now, will the new Tea Party really back a candidate for President whose faith contends that the consumption of the beverage they are known for is a sin?  It really makes no sense.  

Romney has money.  He has friends with money.  He is polished. But, do we really want a President whose Faith directs that a good cup of coffee on a cold morning and a cold glass of tea on a hot summer day are sins?  

The nation turns to Iowa

President Obama is ripe for defeat by most political standards.  The burning question is can the Republicans nominate someone that the middle of the road voters who actually decide Presidential elections can back? 

The process of answering that question starts today, in the heart of Bowl Season.  While a good many Americans are worried about how college football games turn out and about the NFL Playoff match ups, the playoff for a shot at the greatest job in the land begins today in Iowa. 

The Iowa Caucuses are a thing of wonder.  Unlike primaries, where voters simply go the polls and secretly cast their ballot, people in Iowa will caucus.  That means that people will actually stand up with friends and neighbors and literally stand with the candidate that they support for President. 

Historically, although it is the first contest of Presidential contenders, few winners of the nomination in both parties have been selected in Iowa. Its results have made things more interesting as the primary season develops.  

That said, VUI breaks down the GOP field and who must do what to survive the race.  

First, former Senator Rick Santurom and U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman must do well.  They both trail in national polls but have invested a lot of time and resources in Iowa.  If either of them finishes in first or second, they will make the race interesting.  

Second, Congressman Ron Paul must do well.  Nothing less than second place will keep his rebel campaign alive.  Paul has moved considerable resources to Iowa and is counting on a ground game. 

Third, there is Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas.  Perry raised a lot of money and looked like a real contender until his debate flubs.  Now, he needs a solid showing to hold on to South Carolina.  

Fourth, there are the guys who do not want to be embarrassed.  That would be former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  Both men have some following in national polls, but either or both could be embarrassed with a bad showing in Iowa as they have not put the time and the resources into the state.  

That brings us to former Utah Governor and United States Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.  Huntsman has the resume of a President.  But, his campaign has not gained any real traction.  If Huntsman, by some miracle, could finish in the top three, it would change the race. 

Chances are Iowa will end true to its history.  Some upstart, perhaps Bachman, Santorum, or Paul will do really well.  The front runner Romney will do respectively, and the race will go on to New Hampshire and then to South Carolina, where the smart candidates will start dropping out and positioning themselves for appointment in 2013.

Sunday, January 1

The truth about South Carolina and taxes and state government

The Tax Foundation came out with his list of the most taxed and least taxed states to live in and retire in.  South Carolina was listed as the second least taxed state in the union, behind Mississippi.  (There is always Mississippi to count on in lesser wanted rankings such as health care and education so it figures they would top South Carolina in something we would actually want.)

Such a fact does not deter those activists and bloggers who cry out that South Carolina is an overtaxed, over spending bloated place.  They drone on and on about how the structure of government needs to be changed, and how money is all but stolen from people.  But, the fact remains South Carolinians enjoy the lowest state and local tax burden in the country, but for Mississippi.  And, Mississippi's claim is questionable when one considers that South Carolina collects less taxes per ca pita.  

Those who work in once were thought essential government services, such as law enforcement and education do not have to be told we take in less money than most.  They deal with cuts that really affect the services that they can provide.  If that is how the people of South Carolina want things to be,  fair enough.  

But, what is nonsensical is the notion that we in South Carolina are taxed to extremes and that our state government is just some bloated mess.  The numbers do not have an agenda.  They are what they are.  Compared to the rest of the nation, South Carolina lives on a spartan budget.

There lies the dilemma for Governor Haley and Republican activists on the web and elsewhere.  Do they tout the good standing of South Carolina when it comes to taxing and spending, or do they keep droning on about how bad it is when it really isn't?  What is their real agenda?  Is to make state government more efficient in how it provides services or is it to have no state government at all?  

And, as for those out of state groups and individuals who like to dump their money to campaign for "conservatism" in South Carolina, perhaps they should see there are 48 other states where their money might be better spent.  South Carolina seems to be doing just fine on taxing and spending, thank you very much.  And, we need political leaders who brag on that so we can attract real economic development and jobs.  The naysayers can pack their carpet bags and go back to their home states where the problems really are. 

Garnier -- Restaurant Review

Address: 111, rue Saint-Lazare, 75008 Paris
Nearest transport: Saint-Lazare Metro/RER
Telephone: 01 43 87 50 40

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  3.5 - Stars............................................. (prix fixe menu)............................................1 - Bell

Garnier is literally across the street from the St. Lazare train station, which makes it easily accessible.

Oyster Bar
The front of the restaurant had a clear view of their “oyster bar.”  Oysters are extremely popular in November and during the holidays, after all December ends in “R”, which means oysters are ripe for the picking.  You can actually eat oysters any time of the year, but the best times are in the months ending in “R” primarily because European oyster spawn in the summer months and do not taste as good during that season. (see "Why buy oysters in 'R'?")

As we waited outside I watched the staff prepare the oysters being delivered to the customers.  Very clean, well organized and professional. It is a large 2-story corner restaurant. As we went in, I noticed that the restaurant had mirrors strategically placed throughout the restaurant giving it the perception that it was really much larger than it really is. It also helped bring light into the restaurant on an otherwise gloomy day. And, as you walked in you will see a fish tank filled with live lobsters for the picking.

We met John and Collette upstairs next to the window. We had a great table.  The place is very Parisian, but at the same time had a feel of a little more sophistication than the regular bistros/restaurants that I’m accustomed to, probably because of the size, and you don’t want to be looking at all their mirrors without being a little “cleaned-up.”

As we perused the menu, Jack and I decided to have the Menu at 39.50€ for 3-courses, a glass of wine and coffee, a very reasonable price for what you get.  This prix fixe menu gave you 4-choices for an entrée, 4-choices for a plat and 2-choices for desserts. This also came with a glass of wine as well as coffee.

Prix-fixe menu
On the table there was a little cup filled with spicy tuna.  At first it was suggested that it might have cayenne, I thought it was something different, but couldn’t put my finger on it, so we asked the waiter, and it was "espelette", which gave it that little kick. We all liked it.

Collette and John ordered à la carte.  Collette forgoing the entrée, while Jack and John had the shared a platter of creuses de Bretagne n°3 and Utah Beach n°3's – huître (oysters). 


I had ordered the Carpaccio de haddock à l'huile d'olive citronnée.  The carpaccio was very nice, it fact it was salted quite nicely, considering the greens that came with it were not salted at all, so it gave it a nice balance.

Condiments for the Huîtres

John and Jack both enjoyed their oysters, they were accompanied with plain rich butter, herbed butter, and an onion vinaigrette. 


As you’ve probably pictured by now, this restaurant is known for their seafood.  John ordered the sole.  It was very simple and nicely presented.  In fact, I commented that it was filleted quite nicely. John thought the sole was “terrific”, but was swimming in too much butter. I had a taste of it and it was very delicate and simple. Sometimes, less is more.


Colette had the bar. My first honest impression, it was plated very sloppy.  They did not do as good a job filleting it as they had done John’s sole.  As you can see from the picture.  It might even look downright unappetizing for the uninitiated.  I would have preferred it served whole than to look that messy.  I tasted a little bit of it, and again, less is more. I did notice Collette salted the bar, which I would have done too, plus added pepper and espellette, which was made available to us.

Jack first asked the waiter, which would he recommend, the dorade or the sardines?, the waiter recommended the dorade, I of course got curious about the sardines so I ordered that. Jack had the “filet de daurade grillée, carrottes à l'orange”, dorade nicely plated over glazed carrots with no other accompaniments. Jack said it was very good, but lacking in portion size for both the fish and the carrots. I tasted it, and that was probably the one fish I loved the most of the 3 I tasted.

Sardines grillées

 I ordered the “sardines grillées, condiment à l'anchois, caviar d'aubergine.” This dish is not for everyone. Typically, this fish is deep fried which crisps up the bones which can then easily be eaten. Although, the bones can be eatened, it is more difficult to eat when not fried. I like the taste of sardines, and I had no problem de-boning the fish, but a part of me wanted to be able to eat the bones and the heads, which I wouldn’t recommend doing with this preparation.  It was a tasty dish and the accompanying anchovy sauce I loved.  Again the dish is not for everyone, since it is a strong tasting fish.


This is the part of the lunch I found very strange.  Three of us got these small copper pots of e.g., rice and aubergines. First of all, it look extremely unappetizing, secondly I found this presentation strange, as if almost to say, "we can put ugly things in cute copper pans and make it look pretty and get away with it", not!  It was strange. And, my aubergines were not particularly tasty. It was mushy and just not pleasant.

Mousse au chocolat

For the desserts, on the prix fixe menu you had two choices: Mousse au chocolat or Riz au lait comme autrefois, crème angalis et financier.  Collette ordered a warm pear tart.

OK, let’s start with the mousse au chocolat, I have one thing to say, WEIRD, OK, maybe another word to say, WEIRDER!!!  It was the oddest mousse au chocolat I have ever had anywhere in the world. It was like eating fluffy meringue with a hint of cream and maybe, just maybe, a hint of chocolate, if you close your eyes and imagine. Even the color was off. If it had more sugar in it, I would swear it came from a Las Vegas buffet!

Pear Tart

Colette thought her tart was "lacking in flavor", and expensive at 14€. So, looks like the desserts were misses. 

Would we go back? probably. I found there were  a series of hits and misses. The service is excellent, although they forgot to ask whether I wanted a glass of wine that accompanied my meal, but at that point I really didn’t want any more alcohol.  Our bill, with two bottles of great wine  was 232.50€ for 4.

Always fun and an adventure going out to lunch with John, and we had a great time meeting Colette. Can't wait for our next eating adventure.

A la prochaine!
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