|Parfait de foie gras|
The room. It is glorious in its scale and defined by the massive gilded columns. Walking down the stairs and seeing the room unfold ahead of me, I felt like I was stepping back in time to a grand hotel of the 20s or 30s. They've recreated the scene perfectly. I had visions of the movie Ratatouille - like Anton Ego being transported back to an imagined childhood eating the perfect confit. I guess I have an active imagination though.
But the visions were short lived. Despite having booked weeks ahead, we were seated next to the serving station in the far corner of the room, the five of us squeezed onto a table that was really meant for four. The room is fairly noisy, but somehow lacked atmosphere. Perhaps it was our location on the periphery - a bit like what Greece must feel like, economically speaking. Anyway, it was noisy enough for our waitress to confess that she was slightly deafened by it all meaning I had to repeat my order several times (bear with me as I start a tally with service fault #1). So lets talk about the food, because that's what we're here for aren't we?
|Cuisses de grenouille|
Of the starters, my mum had the frogs legs, which were OK, but lacked the Provençal hit of garlic and parsley of the better cuisses that I've eaten. These were served, a little disconcertingly, nuzzling a thickish pond-like green gloop which turned out to be a parsley sauce. To my mind, it made the little hoppers taste fishier than I've experienced before.
My 10 year old nephew ordered snails after acquiring a taste for them on our recent trip to Paris. He had to wait for the correct cutlery to arrive (service fault #2) before tucking into the de-shelled little morsels. Sadly he proclaimed them inferior to the ones in Paris. The one I tried lacked the heady combination of garlic and butter. These were muted flavours, when they should be bold, and weren't flavoursome enough to invite a dunk of baguette into the oily remains. That's really the only reason you order snails isn't it?
Mr B went with a thoroughly decent Parfait de Foie Gras, because if there's foie on a menu he will generally gravitate towards it. Instead of getting the salade frisée aux lardons that I ordered, I was served the salade de mâche, betterave et noi (service fault #3). I'll chalk that one up to the noise in the room and my partly deafened waitress. After some discussion, the mâche was swapped for the frisée, but perhaps I shouldn't have bothered. You see I've enjoyed this salad on a couple of occasions at Chez George in Paris, near the Place des Victoires, which I urge you all to visit. The version served at Brasserie Zedel curiously lacked any flavour apart from the tart dressing on the frisée. The lardons were oddly bland and the whole was curiously under-seasoned. The egg was nicely poached though.
|Salade frisee aux lardons|
|Blanquette de veau|
|Confit de canard|
For dessert, we went with the French classics, profiteroles and chocolate mousse. The profiteroles were served with a jug of warm chocolate sauce which my waiter drizzled for me. Despite the chocolate moistening, the choux was still a bit on the dry side. The mousse earned the title of "not the best" from my nephew, who being 10 and an expert on chocolate should probably be trusted on matters such as these. My parents shared the best dessert of the night though, which was a perfect pear and almond tart.
|Profiteroles au chocolat chaud|
One other gripe. Our waitress decided to give me grief (service fault #6) about taking photos of the food, telling me it wasn't allowed. For all the bloggers or instagramers out there, the menu notes no flash or intrusive photography, so just be stealthy if you want a visual memento of your food or a snapshot of a loved one. For the record, I never use a flash in restaurants and we were sitting next to the serving station in the far corner of a vast room, so I'm guessing I could really only annoy the staff with my picture taking.
|Mousse au chocolat|
|Pear and almond tart|