Is variety the spice of life? Well, maybe not the only spice, but there’s no question that we do want to enjoy some variety in many aspects of our lives, like when we’re out shopping — or when we’re dining in a restaurant.
In the past, the one commonly-heard knock against Daglan’s fine restaurant, Le Petit Paris, was that the choices on the menu were too limited. Too much repetition, too little variety. (Although there is nothing wrong about regularly choosing the slow-cooked beef that’s topped with seared foie gras.) But now the shortage-of-choices problem is gone.
Chef Sylvain Guilbot recently doubled up on the l’idée du moment items on the menu (the items that regularly change, to take advantage of what the markets are offering). And now you can mix and match, choosing an entrée from the menu of standard favourites (for example), a plat principal from the l’idée du moment menu that day, and then go back to the regular menu to choose dessert. Those three courses are yours for 29 euros.
To give you a taste of the choices available on the l’idée du moment menu, here’s a look back at a lunch that my wife and I enjoyed at Le Petit Paris on a recent Sunday. All of these dishes were my choices, but you’ll get the idea.
For starters, I chose a cold “gazpacho” type soup that was like a light tomato soup, amply decorated. In the bowl was a piece of grilled bread, spread with a creamy cheese and topped with four plump shrimp. Here it is:
For my main course, I had the linguine and shellfish cooked in a creamy tomato-based sauce. Aside from the fact that the sauce was delicious, the pasta was properly cooked al dente — a style not usually found in France, where pasta is usually served al musho. Here’s my plat principal:
Last but not least came dessert. Here it is, a pastry base filled with chocolate fondant and topped with a rich chocolate ice cream, and served with some banana slices and crème anglaise:
Over our coffees, we chatted with Madame Guilbot about a potted plant on the terrace. It looked like a hibiscus, but not exactly like the hibiscus plants I remember from my youth in Florida, which I recall had glossy leaves. She explained that it was a hibiscus des marais (marsh hibiscus), and that it is indeed found in the southern U.S.
More importantly, she explained that it had been chosen and then planted by Chef himself, and that he was thrilled because the huge flower you’re about to see had just opened that morning. Here it is:
We have two lots of guests arriving next month, and you can be sure that Sunday-lunch-at-Le-Petit-Paris is on the itinerary.