The choice of where to go for a first meal after a long trans-Atlantic flight is a tricky one. Should you pick somewhere memorable to mark the beginning of the holiday, or play it by ear for the fear that jet-lag would hit you front and center? A frivolous problem it may be, it is also serious because in Paris, good restaurants are almost always booked solid, and you wouldn’t want to eat crappy food on your first day in La France, would you?
Fortunately for us, our guest, one of my dearest friends from college, was more excited than frustrated about eating dinner and that we had a solid no-reservations restaurant, La Cantine du Troquet Dupleix to hit just 15 minutes walk away from home.
While this was our first time at the restaurant, we knew what to expect: generously flavored and portioned Basque food, amazing charcuterie and just a lot of meat in general. We are after all neighbors to Le Troquet, the restaurant that Chef Christian Etchebest ran before he sold it to his deputy last year in order to run the more casual La Cantines. The à la carte format however is different from Le Troquet’s menu formula, and is more attractive to those who are 1) on a smaller budget, or 2) groups with varying degrees of hunger like us (husband and I-famished, TPS-peckish).
For someone who wasn’t feeling super-hungry, TPS nevertheless expressed much enthusiasm for the grilled pigs’ ears, thin strips of smoke-charred cartilage and skin, alternatively chewy and gooey and ultra-savory. Our Asian selves would have preferred it crunchier but it was fantastic already. A bed of greens cut some grease, but not enough. Also good was a generous plate of razor clams grilled a la plancha, the brightly flavored tomato based sauce matching nicely with the sweet nubs of clam.
A similar sauce graced the plate of grilled dorade, the meat firm and fresh, the sauce tarted up with capers and olives.
The rest of our mains were meat dishes, served plain with simple sauces and a ton of buttery potato purée. Good but a little boring when compared to the appetizers.
Dessert was an ample slice of gateau basque split three ways, the sweet dark cherry jam oozing out of the buttery crust. Oh, and extra caramel and powdered sugar on top, just because.
Open 7/7 with a flexible carte and a friendly, neighborhood atmosphere, this is a place we would gladly return to, whether for a drink while watching sports at the bar, a full fledged 3 course meal, or of course, for those serendipitous, unplanned dinners.
Address: 53, boulevard de Grenelle, 75015, Paris