Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-Montmartre

Street in Montmartre. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Christmas singalong
> So British! Concert: Join the choir and sing along. Practice session on Dec. 10 or click here for singing tutorials. Philharmonie de Paris, Dec. 16.

Gourmet food fair
> Just in time for Christmas, the Salon Saveurs. Espace Champerret, Paris, Dec. 2-5.

Organic food and wine fair
> Vinibio and Bio Gourmet: 120 winemakers and 80 food specialists. Carreau du Temple, Paris, Dec. 3-5.

Christmas markets
> Mulled wine and gifts galore. A full list of Christmas markets in Paris. Various locations and dates.

American Contemporary Chamber Music Festival

ParisUpdate-Mona-Bismarck
> Hear Now Paris. Mona Bismarck American Center, Paris, Dec. 2-4.

Art Fair
> The Experiences Art Fair shows art in empty buildings. 14 Place Jacques Bonsergent, Paris, through Dec. 6.

African music and film
> Africolor cultural festival. Various locations in Paris suburbs, through Dec. 24.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Katell Quillévéré’s Réparer les Vivants, followed by cocktails (tickets online only). Le Brady, Paris, Dec. 1.

Master of Indian cinema
Festival Satyajit Ray. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Dec. 14.

Cultures of the world onstage
> Music, dance, theater and ritual performances from around the world at the Festival de l'Imaginaire. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 20.

Contemporary arts festival
> The Festival d’Automne presents leading talents in art, dance, film, theater and more from around the world. Various venues, Paris, through Dec. 31.

Music & more in park bandstands
> Kiosques en Fête brings life to the bandstands in Paris’s parks with concerts, writing workshops, club meetings and even a square dance. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 31.

 

Restaurants - Contemporary

 

ETC

Your Table Is (Not) Ready

Although you wouldn't know it from the photo, ETC is more cramped than Dr. Who's callbox. © Patrice Schmidt, Paris, Musée d'Orsay

You can always tell when a chef who leaves a great house to set up on his or her own has Michelin stars in the eyes by the amount spent on the decor. A very new restaurant, ETC, which its card enigmatically says stands for “Epicure Traditionelle Cuisine” is a designer cross between Eurostar and the Tardis, except that unlike Dr. Who’s time-traveling callbox, ETC is cramped and, in spite of the high prices, you have to put up with the waffle of your neighbors, and they with yours.

As befits a scion of Ledoyen, however, chef Christian Le Squer turns out impeccably prepared food. My dining companion’s jardin de legumes frais à l’eau de radis was bursting with the flavor of lightly cooked new-season vegetables and prettily displayed on the plate, encircled by the “radish water” (“eau de radis” is so much more poetic).

My admittedly imperfect knowledge of the French language left me grasping at straws of meaning when it came to a dish called fantaisie voyageuse: terre et mer. It took the waiter as long to explain it as it took me to eat it. And most enjoyable it was. Imagine a thin slice of smoked haddock rolled spring-roll-style around chopped chicken livers bound with the gelatinous finings of lamb hock. Perhaps you don’t want to imagine that at all, but believe me, it was a very successful surf-and-turf combination of tastes and textures, especially with the added delight of a slather of possibly the best mayonnaise I’ve ever tasted, plus almond-sized bits of very finely chopped capers and gherkins, all fetchingly got up to look like an abstract De Stael painting.

Main courses were a Provençal duck stew, cocotte de canard (those Staub people, makers of trendy cast-iron cooking pots, must be raking it in) façon daube provençale, and noix d’entrecôte “Hereford” laque de soja, ciboulette – a.k.a. rib steak with soy sauce and chives. I had thought of ordering the cod, but the only information I could obtain about its provenance was that it was “from Brittany,” meaning that it was not sustainably fished. Thanks, but no thanks.

The duck was unctuousness itself, and the steak – a whole plateful – was everything you could wish for in a steak, which is not a lot really, except that it be tender and flavorsome, and cooked the way you like it, in my case bleu, which it was. Deliciously so. The little side dish of tiny new potatoes, halved and sautéed in their skins, was also an outstanding take on the humble tuber. We drank a Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Red, not exactly a bargain at €52, nor a particularly memorable bottle.

We then shared a caramel au gout de carambar glacé, which was fine, but which I have altogether forgotten.

We were among the last to leave, not because ETC invites you to linger, but because we were not seated until well after 10 p.m. for our 9:30 p.m. reservation. No one bothered to apologize for the inconvenience or press complimentary drinks on us, and the drinks we did finally manage to coax out of the harried staff were duly charged. And when we were invited to take our seats, we were awarded the worst table in the house for our pains, not four feet from the dirty dish pass, with waiters stampeding all around us during the first part of the meal.

For a restaurant that had only been open for a couple of weeks, however, the operation ran very smoothly, and I’m sure the front-of-house problems can be fixed. We even warmed to our waiter, who insisted on speaking English to us because “he needed the practice.”

Whether the steep price tag (€225 for two, including two glasses of champagne, a bottle of wine and one of mineral water, but only one dessert) is good value for money is another thing altogether…

Richard Hesse

ETC: 2, rue La Pérouse, 75016 Paris. Tel.: 33 1 49 52 10 11. Métro: Kléber or Etoile. Nearest Vélib’ stations: 60, rue Lauriston; 2, avenue des Portuguais (The “golden triangle” of Paris is not an area with a great deal of use for public transportation; if you can flag one of Paris’s rare cabs you can get there without a long hike.) A la carte: €80-€100*.

* three courses, not including wine

© 2008 Paris Update

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