Because of my general distaste for popular tourist spots, it's not unusual for me to find myself the only American and sometimes even the only foreigner in a restaurant when I travel. So it came as a surprise to me when I walked into Frenchie Wine Bar that not only was I in the majority, but the only immediately-apparent French people were the staff. I'm not trying to comment on the types of people whom I like to see myself surrounded by - just noting my initial observation and the ensuing irony that of all the places in Paris that I could feel out of my element, it was at a wine bar packed with tourists.
I first tried to eat here in March, but forgetting that it was Easter Sunday, we arrived to find the place closed. I've wanted to try Gregory Marchand's cooking ever since seeing him on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, and the existence of the wine bar meant that it would be possible for me to get a meal free of meat and offals.
At the time that I arrived, only an hour after opening, the place was already packed to the brim. I managed to snag a seat at the bar, and although my fellow patrons in the seats next to me seemed to consider it a temporary consolation prize until a coveted spot at a table opened up, I was more than happy. All of the staff were incredibly friendly and exceedingly patient with my French, never once switching to English. And the sommelière at the bar, Megan, was the nicest (so I suggest that you sit in this section if she's working!).
And now: the food. Generally speaking, I feel like the food at wine bars can be a little bit .... fussy. That's not to say that it's not delicious, just a bit delicate. Here, however, it was rich and hearty, a wonderful accompaniment to booze. And by the end of the meal, I was a happy camper. To finish off, they gave me a surprise shot of chartreuse from these massive bottles sitting atop the bar (See? The bar section is where it's at). "For your health and to help you digest," Megan said. Santé.
Sometimes, the more I enjoy a dish, the more I have difficulty expressing the extent of my enjoyment, and this very humble-looking sundae is one of those dishes. This was the ice cream sundae of my dreams: simple enough to appear deceptively-doable but complex-enough in execution to make a home-attempt laughable. I don't even know if I was that into the desserts that night, but I did needed something sweet at the end of the meal. And although I ordered the ice cream, to be completely honest, I often find chocolate ice cream to be ... a bit boring. I need something more - more flavors, more texture - and this simple dish hit all of those notes for me. It starts with a beautifully-made chocolate ice cream that is topped with a rich and buttery chocolate crumble. And generously spooned to the side is this peanut caramel, which is possibly one of the best caramels I've ever had. Unlike the sad and sickeningly-sweet syrup substances we're often accustomed to in the US, this was almost fudgey and yet soft and luscious. If there's anything that I will inadequately convey to you, it is the perfection of that caramel.
Date: October 2016
Camera: Canon 6D