Here’s a warning to start off this post. Do not leave it to the last-minute (unless really unavoidable) to make a reservation for a dinner (especially from Thursday onwards) at a decent/good restaurant in Paris. Chee and I did just that one day and found ourselves without a reservation at a restaurant at 18hrs. I was about to be rejected not once, not twice but six times within the span of 15 minutes as restaurants were all fully booked. We were about to stay in and enjoy a home-cooked meal until I decided to try to call restaurants awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand . [What’s a Bib Gourmand? A Bib Gourmand designation is a recognition that a restaurant offers good value for the money, where one can find a good three-course meal for less than €35 in Paris and €29 elsewhere]. Finally, I managed to get a table for us at ‘L’Affriolé’ in the 7th arrondissement whose chef cum owner, Thierry Verola, had previously worked for Senderens, a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant.
The restaurant looks attractive with a modern and cosy dining area where tables are well spaced apart. The restaurant’s menus were found on the chalkboard mounted on the interior walls and thankfully a traditional menu was also available and saved us some physical headache from trying to read the menu off the wall.
Basically, the formule was €35 for a 3-course meal comprising of a starter, main dish and dessert. Although the wine-list was not very long, the wines offered were clearly well-selected, of a good quality and the price range was affordable. We chose a wine from Languedoc, “Villa symposia 2006” that was very fine and smooth and was priced very reasonably at €30.
The attention to details started with the bread and amuse-bouche that were served before the dishes arrived. Creatively-shaped bread and radishes accompanied by black olive butter broke the monotony of the usual bread basket served in many French restaurants. For the first course, Chee chose the crispy mackerel with an emulsion of olive oil. Mackerel and herbs were wrapped in a brick paste which was then deep-fried and eaten with the emulsion. It reminded us of fish & chips, the gourmet version. I chose the viennoise of black pudding which was essentially a loaf of black pudding stacked on top of a bed of apple marinated with a refreshing sauce made of passionfruit. Sumptuous!
Off to a good start and on to the main dish. Chee chose the duck magret (duck breast) with spices and mushroom samossas while I chose the grilled swordfish served with squid salad and mashed potatoes. Chee clearly enjoyed the magret so much so that she even ate (and this never happens!) the crispy skin. With a very generous portion, I was able to enjoy one piece of the duck magret as well. As for my fish dish, rather exceptionally, I was asked to specify the preferred ‘doneness’ of the fish, either medium or rosé. I chose the latter and it arrived perfectly cooked and tender.
How many times have you dined at a restaurant and everything goes well until the desserts are served and they are a letdown? We were anxious to receive and taste our desserts to see if L’Affriolé would continue to dazzle us. We were not disappointed. Chee went along with the dessert of the day, chocolate ganache and I chose the crunchy ‘praliné chocolate’. As with the starters and main dishes, we were impressed by the effort and creativity of the chef and promptly (in spite of the protest of our waist-lines) wiped out every last bit of our dessert.
Though we did not order coffee, we were given some sweets – coffee and vanilla puddings as well as homemade marshmallows – to end our meal. A thoughtful gesture to top off what had been an undoubtedly satisfying meal.
We left the restaurant beaming from ear to ear as we had enjoyed a most unexpected and thoroughly pleasurable meal. Burp.
17 Rue Malar 75007 Paris
+33-(0)-1 44 18 31 33