It’s safe to say we ate well on our last trip to gay Paris. There wasn’t a bad restaurant amongst the lot of ’em (and there were a lot of them!) but one that really stood out was L’Ebauchoir.
I found L’Ebauchoir by keeping my Google search terms pretty specific: ‘traditional French restaurants near Bastille’, and researched quite a few before deciding on it. Our first choice was fully booked but lucky for us, when we poked our heads around the door at L’Ebauchoir we were immediately welcomed in and sat on what I’m sure was the last available table. We had the obligatory ‘where are you from?’ chat and ‘London’ got the response ‘ah, so you’re familiar with Stilton’. They get some of their cheeses from Neal’s Yard!
I always try to speak French in France but I’m not great and really appreciated them letting me try, not laughing too hard, and switching to English (and providing the menus to match) when it was clear I was out of my depth. The owner talked us through the specials – monkfish with passion fruit and a big juicy steak with the aforementioned Stilton.
To start, Alex went for a savoury Paris-Brest stuffed with goat’s cheese, tomatoes, balsamic and olive. The pastry was firm and soft at the same time and the filling was thick and full of flavour and went perfectly with the tart extras. I had duck foie gras with blood orange and bloody ‘el Nora, it was fab. The foie gras had a crisp outside that easily gave way to basically the richest, most delicious pate I’ve ever eaten, and the contrast of bitter citrus was spot on. Ooh, I forgot the wine! We had a Bourgogne red from Maisonettes Charles Pete & Fille (2015) which was strong and dark and very nice.
On to the mains. Alex had what was described on our English menu as chicken stew and comprised two chicken legs, beautifully crunchy on the outside and dark and succulent on the inside, in a creamy truffle sauce with carrots, potato and cabbage. The sauce was 10/10 and not at all overpowering on the truffle front – a good thing since we also ordered a side of truffle mash to share (creamy, smooth, punchier). I was tempted by the beef special but went for the saddle of lamb with cashew and rocket pesto, a lovely jus, carrot purée and a few slithers of potato. Lamb = cooked to perfection and so so juicy with a little bit of fat that was salty and melt-in-the-mouth.
Service was attentive but gladly not OTT, so we had time to let our food go down and just chill out. I don’t think ‘turning’ tables is a thing here – we were at ours for nearly 3 hours. When we were asked about dessert we said we couldn’t manage another mouthful, but our waiter convinced us we had room. I chose caramel rice pudding and Alex ordered the cheese plate. I’m not sure whether we wrongly ordered something each and the options were designed to share (at around £6 a pop I had thought not) or whether the servings are just super generous, but one between two would have been more than enough. The rice pudding – which arrived with a jolly ‘et voila; I present the rice pudding!’ – is a self-service jobbie. It comes in a huge basin of a Staub dish and you can spoon out as much as you want. And they mean it. They ignored it several times sitting relatively untouched on our table, urging me to finish it off and pile some onto Alex’s plate too. It was really milky and had a deep, almost burnt toffee flavour and a great wobble to it. Then came the cheese. Four varieties with some quince and salty butter. Faux pas numéro un: my boyfriend just tucked in, fork in one hand, knife in the other before the bread arrived avec a rather shocked waiter. Faux pas numéro deux (and what will forever be a reason to take the piss out of him): Alex started slicing up pieces of butter and eating it like cheese, even telling me to try it because it was ‘really unusual’. You think?
We paid £120 for 3 courses each and a bottle of wine, plus all the bread and water and then walked back to our hotel like the over-fed snails we are.
I can’t recommend L’Ebauchoir enough. The staff were really helpful and the setting is nice – it has a smart-casual gastro vibe that feels rather French (but perhaps not distinctly Parisian, in a good, unstuffy way) and the food is faultless. The focus is on local, seasonal ingredients and I thought the balance of chef-y presentation and unfussiness of each dish was just right. Also, I can’t remember the last time I rolled home quite so full, so that’s another win in my book.
L’Ebauchoir, 43- 45 Rue de Cîteaux, 75012 Paris