Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lunch in Paris: heaven on earth at Le Temps au Temps

If there's a better way to spend a couple of hours than having an amazing lunch at a sidewalk table at one of Paris' hottest restaurants on a 70* afternoon, then I haven't heard of it. In the first of a long delayed (and what will be occasional) series of posts about our April trip to Provence and Paris, I am still having drool worthy memories of our lunch at Le Temps au Temps. Throughout our trip meals out were proving to be dicey affairs as our traveling companion was a fussy three month old who chose the start of our trip to start teething (which is everything it's cracked up to be in a "please god quit screaming" sort of way), so we were never quite sure what we were going to get. A calm little guy who sat quietly or a tornado of bad news and loud noises. Luckily...miraculously?...he sat/slept quietly in his stroller throughout our lunch at Le Temps au Temps. God was surely smiling on us.

Le Temps au Temps was at the top on my "eat list" in Paris. It has gotten rave reviews in the press, as much for the creative food dished out by chef Sylvain Sendra as for its astonishingly affordable prices. Both rumors proved to be true. LTaT has become an almost impossible get reservation for dinner since the dining room only has 24 seats, so lunch seemed a much better....we hoped....option. When we approached the narrow restaurant on Rue Paul Bert (home of another of my favorite Paris dining spots, Bistro Paul Bert), we were hoping that grabbing a table outside and being able to park our stroller on the sidewalk next to us wouldn't be a problem. The host inside was so very friendly and said "of course, no problem". My anticipation level immediately shot up about 20 points! Outside on the wall they had their menus of the day. A "Menu Midi" where for a mere 17.50 euros you could get a starter, entrée, and dessert; also posted was their regular dinner menu which was available at lunch where for just 29 euros you could have an entrée-plat-dessert. w was more than happy to have the menu midi, and since dinner was not an option I ordered off the 29 euro dinner menu. More is better, right?

After getting our bearing via a few sips of a refreshingly chilled bottle of some crisply delicious vin blanc of whose provenance I forget, we made our selections. Without much delay at, and with frequent peeks at C-boy to make sure he actually was sleeping, the deliciousness commenced. Entrées of croustillant de volaille au curry for w, and eminé de volaille au piment d'espilette pour moi. w's starter consisted of perfectly fried puff pastry stuffed with this sliced chicken & cheese and a drizzle of curry sauce. Mine was a wonderfully balanced and light bit of farfalle pasta with chicken bathed gently in a silky cream sauce. Of course they both qualified as salad courses since the plates also has a perky pile of greens!

Without saying anything both of us were thinking the same thought. If the starters were this good, how amazing will the plats be? Turns out pretty damn amazing! To prepare ourselves, since the bottle of white was reaching its inevitable demise, we ordered a half bottle of Cru Beaujolais to see us through (BTW- the LTaT wine list, like the food prices, offers much value). For her main course (god, I LOVE these three course French meals!) w ordered a filet of white fish that came sitting atop some earthy, buttery sautéed mushrooms, all of that surrounded by a smoothly textured and beautiful to look at pool of pomme de terre douce (a sweet potato purée). The fish was moist, cooked to perfection, the skin salty and crisply grilled, the whole so flavorful when all the ingredients were piled into one bite. My main was mind bogglingly good. The plate landed in front of me and I found myself staring at a drool inducing, softball sized piece of epaulé d'agneu confit (lamb shoulder confit). I swear my heart started racing. They set a knife down with my fork, but really the forchette sufficed. It slid through this unbelievably tender piece of lamb without the slightest resistance. Down through this ball of meaty goodness that had been glazed with a dark brown lamb sauce, on though the bed of buttery, lightly creamy vegetable base (I honestly forget what exactly they were. Not that it mattered!) and then, after being swirled in more of the sauce that had been drizzled around the whole dish, a bite of heaven that virtually rendered me speechless. The "Oh sweet mother of Jesus" moments dining out happen all too infrequently for me. This was blessedly one of them. One of the greatest dishes I have ever had. We were both alternately smiling with crazed satisfaction and shaking our heads in wonder. On top of all that it felt so heavenly to sit on a Parisian sidewalk bathed in the warm sun while sipping glasses of crisp white and fruit filled red and having this incredible food. To me the perfect vacation moment!

Then, since this train of edible delights wasn't quite ready to pull into the station, the desserts made their way to us. Mine was a moelleux chocolat avec banane sorbet. A rich molten chocolate cake with banana sorbet. Really, really terrific, again the flavors separately and together delicious. The showstopper, though, was w's sablé aux fruits, crème brulée. Now let me explain that crème brulée is w's holy grail dessert. She does not suffer substandard versions lightly. And now here before her was not only what she would later call a perfect crème brulée, but it was sitting ON TOP OF a sweet fruit tart. One bite in she said she was almost weeping. This was a creative, satisfying, absurdly good dessert. Just crazy, brilliant genius. The whole meal was one of the best we've ever had, and for the price was an absolute steal. About $75 U.S. for everything. Ridiculous. Should you find yourself in Paris with lunch open, please....PLEASE...make the attempt to visit Le Temps au Temps. Oh, and through it all, C-boy slept!
Below are the two menus. Click either pic to enlarge.


Victus Populi said...

Why did I have to see this on the day that I packed myself tabouli salad and carrots for lunch? Meow.

bb said...

VP.....I just have to look at the pics...which I've dome repeatedly....and resent whatever it is I'm eating!