Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pascade by Alexandre Bourdas, Paris

On our first night in Paris, I didn't plan an epic dinner.  I know this isn't my style, but I had no idea if we'd want to crash early.  If we'd have the energy to go out.  But of course I had a list of easy options ready to go.

So when dinner time rolled around, and we deemed ourselves not up for grand adventures, but wanted to sit and eat a light meal (we snacked at the office all day long), I had a no-brainer suggestion: Pascade.
A light meal.
Pascade was on my list for a couple reasons.

The first is simple: it is a Michelin Bib Gourmand, within 5 minutes of our hotel, and 10 minutes from the office.  This means it was likely decent food at a reasonable price and conveniently located.  Good.

Next, I knew it was casual.  We could go without needing to return to the hotel to change out of our "engineer" clothing.  We really didn't have the energy for dressing up.

Next, it was already on my list due to its Bib Gourmand rating and close proximity, and when I asked  local colleagues for recommendations, not one, but two, immediately suggested Pascade.  If locals like it, that is a good sign, right?

And finally, it sounded unique.  Pascade serves pretty much one thing ... pascades.  What are pascades?  Yes, that is something I was trying to understand myself.  I read, and was told, that it was like a cross between a crepe and a souffle, except shaped like a bowl, and filled with things.  Savory or sweet.  While I don't love crepes or souffles, the unique nature of it drew me in, plus of course the promise of sweets.

Overall, I'd say our visit was a success.  I didn't love it, but I'm glad I tried it.  The concept seems solid.  Service was polite and tolerant of our non-French speaking (English menus were provided).  The atmosphere was pleasant, simple.  We weren't under dressed, and felt comfortable.  The meal was fairly efficient, it probably only took about 15 minutes for our order to be ready.

The Setting

The decor is casual, modern, clean, simple.
Tables for two.
Almost the entire restaurant is tables for two.

The tables, the floor, and the chairs are all wooden, but different types of wood, with different styles of grains.
Long Table.
The center of the space is filled by a long table.  I imagine this is communal seating, but when we were there, it was never occupied.  The restaurant only had 3 other tables filled the entire time we were there.  We were clearly on the early side for Parisian dining.

The back wall was stonework, which integrated nicely with the wood tones.
When we first sat down, these wells in the table held paper menus, rolled up.  Once the staff realized we were English speaking, the menus were taken away as they were in French, and we were provided English menus.

After ordering, the holes were filled with metal tubes.  I must have looked very confused, as the server quickly removed the lids on one of the tubes.  Inside were cloth napkins and cutlery.  We each had our own tube.

I don't think this is normal in France, right?  I thought it was fascinating at least.

Along with the cutlery, a small bowl of cherry tomatoes was brought out.  I was too busy photographing and being amused by the cutlery to get a photo of the tomatoes before Ojan ate them all.  He really liked them, saying it was a refreshing starter and something quite different.

Our experience was starting out as unique as I hoped.

Food & Drink

The menu at Pascade is fairly simple.

For starters, there is a meat plate, cheese, a single salad, and a simple pascade drizzled with truffle oil.

The main attraction is obviously pascades, and there are 4 savory and 3 sweet available, and the varieties rotate out seasonally.

On our visit, our choices for savory were: pollack, calamares y chorizo, green risotto, veal chopped parsley, and shrimp.

I didn't want veal, neither Ojan nor I were interested in risotto, and Ojan vetoed the shrimp.  I was fascinated by the shrimp, as the description read "roasted shrimps with garlic, penne, coconut milk & citronella, aubergine dip".  Penne ... in the pascade?  I guess not much different from risotto inside?  But ... aubergine dip too?  It sounded crazy.  But alas, Ojan vetoed it, thus the other seafood option is what we went for.

For sweets, our choices were: lemon cherry, citrus fruits chutney, and "only chocolat", or a tasting platter.  The dessert pascades were 11€ each for a full size version, or, 15€ for a 2 person mini tasting.  I really only wanted the citrus fruit chutney one, and Ojan really only wanted the chocolate one, and we had no idea what would actually come on the mini platter, so, obviously, we had to just get that and make no decisions ourselves.
Coteaux d'Aix en Provence 2013 Chateau Revelette. 8€.
To go along with my selections, I opted for a glass of red wine.  There were 3 choices by the glass, one for 5€, one for 8€, and one for 11€.  With no other real signal into what they were, I just opted for the middle choice.

I didn't care for it.  It was too tanic for me, but, this isn't the fault of the restaurant, I had no idea what I was ordering.

I did appreciate that the full bottle was presented to me, a small taste was poured first, and then my glass was filled.  Of course, I guess I could have said no at that point, and almost did, but I really didn't want to be complicated.

Ojan opted for sparkling water, served in a Pascade branded bottle, for only 3€, not bad.
 Pollack, calamares y chorizo.  21€.
"Roasted pollack, squids, celery purée, chorizo and riquette."

Our main pescade really was lovely.  I had seen photos online before, but it still looked even more dramatic than I expected.  Almost too pretty to break into!

It also didn't taste anything like I was expecting.

I loved the dough.  It was ... sweet.  Yes, this was our savory main course, but the dough was sweet.  Not sugary exactly, but certainly sweet.  It was crispy, but light and fluffy.  I suddenly understood the descriptions I had read.  It was not just crispy and chewy like a crepe.  It had the airiness of a souffle, except, well, it was thin.  Really fascinating texture.

Inside was a generous amount of seafood, 3 large chunks of pollack and assorted pieces of squid, plus slices of chorizo.

The seafood was ... ok.  The pollack was nicely cooked, tender, moist, but just wasn't a fish I was interested in.  Ojan also didn't really care for it, and one chunk went unfinished.  The squid was also ... ok. It was kinda chewy, not particularly great.  But I liked it more than the pollack.  The chorizo was good, flavorful slices of meat.

I didn't find "celery purée", but there was a cream sauce.  It was orange in color, mild in flavor, and quite creamy.  What it was, I honestly have no idea.  But I love cream, and it went great with the crepe-like base.  A little arugula, "riquette"?, was on top.

Overall, it was all fine.  It was a unique thing for sure, and I liked it more than a crepe or souffle.  The crust really was quite good, but the fillings just weren't quite for me.  I would consider trying another savory one sometime, although none on the current menu really appealed.  I think I'd really like the simple appetizer one just drizzled with flavorful truffle oil.

The price of 21€ seemed ok, higher than a crepe obviously, but there was a lot of seafood.
Les ''minis'' – dégustation pour 2 personnes. €15.
The mini platter was presented on a wooden board, one each of 4 types of minis, so 8 total.  This meant we got to try all 3 from the regular dessert menu, plus a bonus one!  Yes!

The presentation was quite cute, I must say.

All had the same shell, crispier than the main savory pascade, and caramelized.  I imagine if you get the full size ones the shell winds up similar to the savory one, just with more sugar in it.  Personally, I really liked the mini size since it was crispier and seemed more like a kouign amann.  The bite (ok, two or three) bite size was also enjoyable, just as finger food.

Starting from the front, we had:

Lemon Cherry:
Butter & lemon cream, toffee, cocoa biscuit and cherries".
This was my least favorite, and even though tiny, I didn't finish mine.  I would have never ordered this one though, as I don't like lemon flavors in dessert.  It was like a creamy lemon meringue pie filling, just not something I ever want.  Topped with a cherry half.

Coffee Cream:
This was the bonus one, so I don't have a full description.  My second favorite.  I avoid caffeine at night, and planned to only take a single bite of this, but, well, I couldn't resist finishing it.  The coffee cream was smooth and a lovely flavor, and it was topped with even more whipped cream.

Only Chocolat:
"A slightly hot soufflé of dark chocolate mousse."
My third favorite.  This one was quite different from the others, in that it didn't have a cream filling.  Instead, it was molten chocolate!  I wish I had taken a photo, but it was too messy to do so.  The moment I bite in, I had to quickly put the rest in my mouth, as it exploded molten chocolate everywhere.  This was Ojan's favorite, but only my third pick.  Interesting, but I preferred the cream flavors.

Citrus Fruits Chutney:
"Mascarpone cream & biscuit with passion fruit juice, citrus fruits chutney."
My hands down favorite, and, predictably, the one I would have ordered if only ordering a single full size dessert.  I didn't really taste any particular citrus fruit, but it was full of creamy, delicious mascarpone.  I love mascarpone, and the crispy shell, the creamy mascarpone, and the sweetness of the fruit chutney was a wonderful match.

Of the four, I would gladly get the mascarpone one again, and would share the coffee one, but the others I'd skip.  Again, I'd love to see what other flavors rotate though though, because I really liked the concept behind them.
The Bill!
The bill came rolled up and presented inside a metal tube.  The little touches of the decor really were quite nice.
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