April 16, 2005
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Bouquiniste

Exhausted after an exciting first day of Tinderbox Weekend, Linda and I made our way to a 10PM pilgrimage to Les Bouquinistes, the stylish Guy Savoy outpost on the banks of the Seine. (Dinner is late in France. Dinner is late for us at home, too, since I work late and buy fresh groceries on the way home and even fast cooking takes time. But, when do French people sleep?)

I started with a terrific risotto with torteau (a crab), followed by a really excellent plate of marinated duckling breast served with a terrific, low-guilt rendition of potatoes dauphinoise. Linda had a wonderful tempura of langoustines— a revelation — and then a plate of foie grad poêle. That was even better -- creamy, rich, crusty, spicy, comforting and challenging at once. For dessert, I had a brilliant pear cappuccino -- a layer of rich, creamy, coffee-tinged flavor sitting atop a mixture of chilled pear, pear sorbet, and a lovely syrup.

What's really working here, I think, is interest and attention. The dishes have an mixture of temperatures and flavors and textures, often unexpected. The risotto was hot, and less saucy than you'd expect; you might think that a mistake, but the plating declares that it's intended to be that way, that's how we want it to be. The potatoes were served with two perfectly-roasted whole cloves of unpeeled garlic. Unpeeled? I don't know, but it works (and tastes) fine.

Bouquiniste