Taking advantage of a rare half-day at school just before Christmas break, P and I met at Pottoka for lunch. Pottoka is a relatively new Basque restaurant in the tony 7eme, a less expensive, meat-focused offshoot of the elegant fish eatery, Les Fables de la Fontaine. What makes the restaurant Basque, besides the requisite rugby jersey displayed near the door and stamped on their namecards, is the penchant for earthy Southwestern food, ample charcuterie and liberal dustings of piment d’Espelette.
P immediately zoomed in on the daily no-choice lunch special, which sounded both appealing and good value at 17E for 2 and 22E for 3 courses.
The entrée of the day was a dish of poached eggs atop an intensely flavored mushroom cream. The oozing golden yolk upped the rich and savory quotient, so thick one could not drink the concoction but rather mopped it all up with the good bread provided. The bitter salad greens and naturally sweet dehydrated chestnut chips were but sideshows to the main highlight, but provided some textural and flavor contrast to the umami-bomb.
A platter of steak, accompanied by a side of bacon-studded braised onions and thick fries was fully flavored and well-cooked, the sweet onions still infused with a strong perfume of wine. Though it looked slightly diminutive when it arrived, the portion was declared “just nice” by P after considering how rich it was and the dessert yet to come.
The daily dessert was a dainty slice of lemon tart, a light and tart counterpoint to the heavy dishes in front. But if you wanted the entire meal to be rich through and through, all one had to do was to pour the thimble of nutella ganache over the tart, or perhaps, down it in one shot.
As for me, I started the meal with a cocotte of shredded lamb baked under a bed of carrot puree and crushed hazelnuts (18E). While it did not look very appetizing at all, this slightly exotic, cumin scented take on shepherd’s pie was surprisingly addictive.
If I was disappointed by anything that afternoon, it was with the highly lauded Gateau Basque. Don’t get me wrong, the pie was delicious, the crust was the redolent of butter and the black cherry filling sweet without being cloying. Not the mention the excellent scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. But at 10E, I think it was overpriced for this simple dessert.
As mentioned, the weekday lunch deals, if one can live without choice, is very good value for Paris, especially for the neighborhood, and though a la carte options cost more, they are comparable to neighborhood pricing (closest comp being Cafe Constant around the corner, and much more comfortable to boot). No doubt we’ll be back the next time P has another extended lunch break.
Address: 4 Rue de l’Exposition, 75007, Paris
Telephone: 01 45 51 88 38