Q u e l f r o m a g e
Astier is a long-established bistro that has been taken over by a new crew from several of Paris’ most distinguished venues, but they’ve had the good sense not to fix what ain’t broke. When I last ate there five years ago I finished with the celebrated plateau de fromages, which was left at my table long enough for me to come back for greedy seconds. It’s still offered, and reports indicate that it’s still up to its old standard, but with another big meal ahead for that evening, on this occasion I gave it a miss.
The kitchen continues to be noted for its terrines, and my robust Terrine de sanglier à armagnac et aux pruneaux d’Agen, émincé de chou vert did not disappoint. It was identified on the carte as an Astier Classic, as was the Tête de veau sauce ravigote, pommes vapeur. The latter was served hot, not in slices but as a single luscious hunk swimming in a generous quantity of one of the classic French sauces.
Ravigote takes a lot of care and attention – Theodora Fitzgibbon, in her authoritative Food of the Western World, takes half a column just to summarize it! It’s based on Velouté sauce complexly processed with white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, finely chopped, sautéed shallots/onions, capers and herbs. To offer it on the luncheon menu without a supplement is an act of generosity.
I lingered over my meal for a good hour and a half at the height of the Monday lunch time and there were a lot of empty tables. Walking slowly back to the loo, I noted that there were relatively few tables with bottles of wine (as opposed to single glasses) and, seated next to the kitchen exit, I could see that while I was there no one ordered the cheese platter. Astier is in a neighbourhood with no passing tourist trade, and so they are very reliant on locals. This is another fine Paris bistro whose fortunes I shall be following with close attention and fingers crossed.
Astier 44 rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud, 11th Arr, Tel: 01 43 57 16 35,
Mº Parmentier, Goncourt
©2009 John Whiting