Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

The Crouch End Players and the Comédie-Italienne

May 24, 2017

Corbyn Island with Cast 2

Artwork © Nick Kobyluch

Since translating Marivaux’s comedy L’Ile des Esclaves for the Crouch End Festival I’ve been immersing myself in the culture of the early eighteenth century in France, partly with an eye on working on something more ambitious sometime in the future but also with my mind on costumes for Corbyn Island, the updated version that’s in production with the Crouch End Players. One way I felt that I could tie the modern adaptation to the work that inspired it would be by having two of my modern characters in fancy dress that had a whiff of Baroque France about them.

Naturally my thoughts turned to the Wallace Collection in Marylebone, whose building is a little bit of France in the West End. The 18th Century French rooms I’d tended to skip through on previous visits – all that flouncy, sleazy Boucher is a bit quease-inducing even if you have the reward of the more civilised Watteau alongside.  I prefer the more sober pleasures to be had in the company of Poussin and De Hooch.

So it was a surprise to find that not only did the Wallace have plenty of canvases depicting eighteenth century French fashion it actually had a picture of our antecedents as interpreters of Marivaux, the Comédie-Italiennes.

IMG_0884

The Italian Comedians by a Fountain, Nicolas Lancret


The painting depicts the actors in theatre dress with the stock characters Pierrot and Arlequin most obvious – each in his distinctive costume with Arlequin also masked. Arlequin appears in L’Ile des Esclaves as the slave to an Athenian aristocrat and displays all of the attributes that his audience would expect whichever production he appeared in. He’s a cheeky, rustic joker who has simple tastes – food, drink and the ladies, not necessarily in that order.

In Marivaux’s production he would have been played by Thomassin, the most famous Arlequin of his age and probably the man depicted by Lancret in the painting above. Our own Arlequin (who now goes under the name of TC, a little nod to the Assistant Coach of my football club, Ipswich Town) is played, I have to say magnificently, by Ric Lindley. He doesn’t have to perform the acrobatics that would have been expected of a seventeenth century Arlequin, nor did we direct him to adopt a ‘high-pitched voice like a parrot’ as described as being characteristic of the part by contemporary accounts.* But I think he definitely captures the earthy qualities of Arlequin, as well as his sentimentality and good-naturedness.

Lancret is one of those artists who seems to be permanently overshadowed (like de Hooch by Vermeer) by a more illustrious peer for seemingly no good reason. Watteau of course is the big name here but they had very similar backgrounds starting as apprentices under the theatre scenarist and artist Claude Gillot. For some reason Lancret seems to be treated as the apprentice to Watteau whereas in fact he was much more of a rival. So researching Lancret’s painting was a lot more difficult to do than if it had been Watteau’s. There are (justifiably) books by the yard on Watteau in the library but very little, even in French, on his fellow painter.

Lancret’s ability is shown by many canvases in the Wallace but is nowhere more apparent in London than in the marvellous Gallery A at the National. Tucked away either side of a large canvas from the studio of Boucher (isn’t that telling of Lancret’s neglect, he could probably chat to Guardi about it who has a little picture up the row) are four canvases depicting the four ages of man. Philosophical pieces describing childhood, youth, maturity and old age, they are little gems that deserve a wall of their own.

They also led me to reflect how one would depict the life cycle in the modern age. Childhood and youth separate? It hardly seems that a tot is out of nappies before it is turned into a consumer and given a screen to suck on. But then how to separate youth and maturity when middle-aged men go shopping in the supermarket in leisure wear and spend their cultural capital yarning the ins and outs of superhero franchises. So, it would seem, we go straight from youth to senility. But I digress.

True, Watteau was the pioneer of the fête galante but it was a genre that Lancret developed and proved to be a master of very quickly, as shown by the portrait of the Comédies-Italiennes. The vividness of their characters brought them into the modern age for me as I was standing in the Wallace and gave me the feeling that even if I’ve twisted and mangled Marivaux out of shape as an author, as a company we’re still communicating with these people through four centuries of theatre history and revivifying the roles that they created. It’s a tremendous credit to Ric, Sophie, Richard, Mia, Victoria, Mike, Nadia and Vic that they’ve taken this project on and given it life beyond the page. If only we had Lancret around to immortalise them.

#Theatre #London

 

*François Moreau, Le goût Italien dans la France tocaille: théatre, musique, peinture (Paris, PUPS: 2011), p. 40

Restaurant 20 Ma Salle à Manger, Paris

April 9, 2017

Trailing back from an extraordinary double of Vermeer and his contemporaries on canvas followed by de Musset on stage we were ravenous and looking for something typically French. Somehow I’d never been to Place Dauphine before, and this seemed the perfect time to have done it. Crepuscular light, a smattering of boule players beneath the trees, Jacques Dutronc in my head.

We selected MSàM on the basis of its homely looking atmosphere. We got a nice table at the back of the room, which is hung with nick-nacks and posters of Bayonne. I wasn’t going to take a starter but was persuaded by the menu which was filled with tempting classic bistro fare.

For starter a rustic pâté went down very well with a good Côtes du Rhone and then onto the fillet steak. The steak was done perfectly and was as tender as you like. Alas the crushed spuds were less successful, a bit bland. I think chips are always a better alternative. But that was the only negative. The service was charm itself and I can imagine that on a summer’s evening this is the kind of place where you could sit on the terrasse and watch the world go by for hours. And even with a debagged pound the price wasn’t too bad for somewhere so at the centre of historic Paris.

8/10

#Food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Restaurant 19 Galette Café, Paris

April 8, 2017

IMG_0809.jpg

We wanted a quick lunch on the way to the Louvre and galettes (or Breton pancakes) seemed a good option. Half empty when we arrived the room was soon full with students, local workers and a few tourists like us. The seating is tight with individual tables around the fringe of the room with a communal table in the middle. This gave the space a nice, informal vibe that was just right for our mood.

The menu has a good variety of galettes to suit most tastes. I had a mushroom and chicken with a Grimbergen on the side. Being Breton they go big on cider so I felt a bit guilty at not trying some (especially with pictures of the producers smiling rustically down at me from the walls) but I lost the need for cider when I was about 16.

The galette was delicious – chunky and rustic with a good helping of mushrooms and chicken on top. I think double up the carbs by adding potato to the mix was a bit unnecessary but it didn’t diminish from the tastiness of the dish. A highly recommended non-touristy spot close to the d’Orsay or the river for a quick bite.

8/10

#Food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Restaurants of 2016 – the round up

January 1, 2017

New Year’s Day doesn’t seem the most psychologically astute to consider how much time and money one has spent on consuming food and drink over the preceding year. The grip of hang lends a jaundiced eye to even the sunniest experiences while the stinkers on reconsideration become full blown catastrophes.

However, on a day such as this it is wisest to remember how fortunate are those who have the leisure and lucre to dine out. I don’t take my good fortune for granted.

Ratings

The average rating over the year was just over 7 out of 10, suggesting that the standard is pretty steady across the industry. Or I could be a generous reviewer. No restos received a 4, 2 or 1 out of 10 rating with three getting the dreaded zero for utterly crap service that led to a walk out.  Below I’ll recap the worst experiences of 2016 though not at too great length.

To my surprise there are fourteen 9 out of 10 ratings, which means I’ll have to whittle down for a top 10! I’ll give weight to those restaurants which over-deliver on value for money.

ratings1

Location

It’s not surprising that the centre of London tops the charts for eating but it’s also been a very French year, which looks likely to last into 2017 with the eldest going to university in Paris (exam results allowing).

Location.jpeg

Cuisine

I often feel I could do with a curry so I was not surprised to see that they come out on top of visits, confirming the trend that Indian cuisine is the nation’s favourite. No Chinese (except for the Uighurs) is a bit of a shocker though!

Cuisine.jpeg

Okay, so that’s the stats, time to dish out the gongs and the rotten toms.

The stinkers

Let’s get these out of the way eh? I should emphasise that all of the opinions are based on what happened at the time and things may have improved since then.

The Botany Bay

Worst dining experience of the year from a culinary point of view was undoubtedly The Botany Bay, an evening that was only saved from being truly hideous by the patience and good humour of my wife.

IMG_0093

Botany Bay. Go for the view rather than the food.


2. Gustavo’s

Now sadly defunct Gustavo’s turned the pizzeria experience into a marathon from which I thought I was never going to escape.

img_4137

Gustavo’s. Their mysteriously non-functioning pizza oven is still in the building though no-one’s set up shop.


3. Cafe de l’Opéra

I asked the waiter for a Coca Light, he brought me an espresso. What a prick. Tourist Paris at its very worst. Doesn’t merit a picture.

Special mentions go to BFI Riverside and Vapiano for having such charmless staff that I didn’t even order anything.

The Good Stuff

In no particular order ten of the best of 2016.

Autograf

Save it for winter because they tee you up with rye bread and pig fat before giving you some serious amounts of wholesome Polish food.

img_0456

Autograf on Green Lanes. If you like pig this is the place for you.

2. Standard Tandoori

The go to Indian for the last twenty years. I couldn’t leave them out of a top 10, Tariq would kill me.

img_4286

The décor occasionally changes but everything else remains reassuringly the same at the Standard.

3. Bistro Aix

As authentic a French bistro as you’re likely to find in Crouch End or any other London ‘burb. Good cooking, great value and friendly service. A real find.

img_0462

Bistro Aix – the set meal is a bargain.

4. De Belhamel

Canalside eating in Amsterdam and a good laid-back feel in the room. I liked it.

img_0196

De Belhamel – the best of a good weekend in Amsterdam.

5. Karamay

It felt like dining in someone’s front room but in a good way. Uighur cuisine at its best, or so my Uighur savvy fellow diner informed me.

IMG_4189

Karamay – recommended for a post-rugby feast.

6. Rule’s

Sometimes you want to leave a restaurant light of wallet and heavy of stomach. Rule’s will do that for you in style.

IMG_4650

Rule’s banquette. Sat on by some mighty ass.

7. Vagenende

On the recommendation of Ian Nairn we found Vagenende largely unchanged since his visit in 1968. A good thing.

IMG_4247

Vagenende – keeping up standards on the hell that can be Boulevard St. Germain

8. Pizza Express British Museum

Like the Standard an old reliable that hasn’t lost its charm over the years.

img_4136

The near original and in my opinion the best.

9. Salt Yard

In a year packed with Spanish food Salt Yard came out the champion. Top class.

img_0455

Salt Yard – pick of the festive season.

10. Le Voltaire

Saving the best till last. It’s not cheap but where else could you dine a historic building, eat perfectly good food and have dignified waiters indulge you with bouts of table shenanigans?

img_4072

Le Voltaire. I’d happily di(n)e there.

All of these got 9 out of 10 but so too did Rowley’s, Le Fumoir and Les Babines. Join me in 2017 for more eateries.

#Food #London #Paris #Amsterdam

To see which other restaurants I visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

 

Review #103 Les Babines, Paris

December 6, 2016

Having missed out on Les Babines the day before we made our way back after some morning’s shopping (shout out to Billards Jean Marty, the best alternative to Sports Direct I’m aware of) for a cold collation lunch. Les Babs is a wine shop that does food which seems to me the best shopping of all, even better than snooker.

It seemed as though we’d crashed a family get together but they didn’t seem to mind and set us up in the corner of the room with a view of some Mike Gatting sized bottles that were tempting as train booze.

11231198_10152822431795703_2302492131502711113_n

Mike Gatting wrestles with a Rickety Bridge

So we went for two planches again, this time with the little wrinkle of a fish planche followed by a duck planche. Various textures of each tastefully arranged with a scattering of veg, all good. We asked our host to recommend some wine to go with the fish and he slipped over a generous amount of Chablis. Very good. And with the duck? He gave us a cheeky grin and fired out some French about something that was as good as a Crozes Hermitage without being a Crozes Hermitage. We were sold and we took a glass of that followed by another one as we started to ease ourself into the afternoon.

All this for about 20 euros a head?! Best value of the weekend, and if we’d a had Gatt with us we would’ve got a carryout.

9/10

#Food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #101 Café Charbon, Paris

December 5, 2016

In Paris for a weekend of social frivolity we were staying in a new area for me between République and Père Lachaise. Hot off the train we were looking for a planche or two while we discussed what to do with the rest of the day. Les Babines being closed in the afternoon (don’t worry, we went back) we opted for Charbon on the basis of its shabby chic décor.

It was a good choice. Not only was the décor a perfectly aged classic bistrot interior, they also have a superior product on the food side of things. Although we just had a plate each of cheese and meat to share it was all very good. High quality thin, raw meat, plenty of cheese and a generous helping of salad. With a bottle of red this was an admirable start to the weekend.

The staff were very cheery and happy to listen to our crap French. On Sunday alas I had to break the rules. On the back of one hour’s sleep Saturday night we needed reliable sustenance for brunch, which we sought chez Charbon. They did the trick – a croque monsieur with a helping of strong coffee and half a Guiness helped to stave off my sleep-starved decline until it was time to head for Gare du Nord. The croque was a thing of glory as a saltycheesy restorative.

8/10

#Food #Paris

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #73 Le Fumoir, Paris

August 29, 2016

In Paris for the day I’d booked Le Fumoir on the basis of good ratings and its location – half an hour’s stroll from Victor Hugo’s gaff (v good) and virtually next door to the Louvre, for which I’d booked a 3 o’clock entry. It was hot.

Victor Hugo – not just a long-winded medievalist he was also a gifted interior designer

Yes, it was so hot that I was tempted to roll my sleeves up. But I kept a stiff upper lip about it.

Salvation came in the form of an ice cold towel presented to us by the waiter barely before we’d sat down. It was the best thing I’ve had in a restaurant this year bar none. Cold towel applied to brow, cheeks, back of neck and wrists put me in a very good frame of mind.

As well as being hot I was also very thirsty. Fortunately our friends at Le F had a solution for that too. One side of the table got a negroni while I had a dolce vita. Freshly made cocktails fizzy sour and poured over a colossal goblet full of ice. Already Le Fumoir had become one of my favourite places on earth.

We contemplated the room. Fans spinning lazily from the ceiling over a mixture of workers lunching, well-heeled tourists and one middle aged couple engaged periodically in sucking each other’s face off in between pecking at their food. An eclectic crowd. All this in a subdued light with blinds half drawn to allow a discreet view of the passing trade of standard issue bumbag charabancists, their adipose tissue visibly melting as they slithered their way to take selfies in front of Renaissance art.

Our waiter, who made Bradley Cooper seem a second rate Marty Feldman, was out of the French Old Skool. Formal but willing to chat if it was to a purpose. They have a prix fixe menu at lunch of three courses for €27 which even in these troubled times of the sterling drop seemed an incredible bargain. Courgette velouté (still looking for chills) was gorgeously smooth and then bass with celeriac, all excellent. The bread kept coming and was helped along with a Domaine des Schistes (‘An excellent choice’) and I was seriously considering selling everything I had in London to move into Le Fumoir. We couldn’t resist dessert and so combined coffee by taking an affogato each. The total bill for two was just over €100, which is an absolute snip.

Our next stop was the Louvre where we spurned the hordes to seek out Chardin and Poussin, two painters guaranteed to take the feverish mess out of any day. Having gorged on them we couldn’t resist another stop in Le Fumoir on the way to the station for their happy hour. This time we sat at the bar while another male model, this time trained as a mixologist, made us a mint julep and a Tom Collins.

Good times.

9/10

To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here

Delacroix Days

April 28, 2016


The picture at the head of this piece is of a postcard I brought back from Paris, it must be ten years ago. A self-portrait by Eugène Delacroix, a man well aware of his own dudosity. So what joy it is that there should be such a fantastic show at the National Gallery not only celebrating the man’s work but also his role as the inspiration to the next generation of painters. Men (for the most part alas) whose celebrity outstrips his own in contemporary times. It’s good to have him placed front and centre, for another month at least, in what is a wonderful show.

What perplexed me was that although Delacroix’s diaries are referred to in both the catalogue and the labels there isn’t a copy on sale in the NG shop – surely an opportunity has been missed! The reason I was looking for a new copy was that I had mislaid my pocket-sized edition published by Phaidon, one of a series of written classic works by artists and writers of which I have tried to obtain a full set.* Well, they had plenty of stuff by other people but nothing by the lad himself. A shame.

I won’t describe at length the wonders within the exhibition as there’s still plenty of time for people to go and look for themselves. But I will pick out a plum that explains why it is a must-see thing. One of my favourite pieces of Delacroix’s is that of Christ Sleeping During the Storm. To my mind it works as a metaphor for stoicism – the apostles fret, the storm rages, land is in sight, Christ takes a nap. Patience and faith (which work for both the secular and religious among us I think) are the keys to wending a way through the storms of life.

It’s a painting I’ve seen in the NG before but the difference as it is hung now is that it’s shown beside a Redon of a similar subject. Redon is an artist with whom I’m relatively unfamiliar and what I’ve seen of his hasn’t particularly appealed – that hot, over hot, splurge of sexual-psychological anxiety associated with the fin de siècle is not to my taste. But with his response to Delacroix he kind of clicked for me.

Redon removes the tempestuous drama that Delacroix the romantic puts into his composition and makes the scene more transcendental. Nature for Redon is not threatening the sailors. Neither is God. It’s the bare unforgiving sun in the sky and the isolation of the boat, the loneliness of the scene that come across. No land in sight, a ship cast adrift under a godless sky. It shows the shift from a Romantic to a modern sensibility.  From an appreciation of the beauty and danger of nature, and of human nature, to a turning inward of the mind. And each of the works is beautiful. It’s not the only time this kind of juxtaposition works in the show, it happens time and time again.

But there are two things that I would say that you don’t get from the show but that do become apparent from a trip to Paris.

The Delaxroix Museum comes as part of a ticket for the Louvre and is well worth visiting as a warm up act for the main event.


The house is where Delacroix lived and worked in Paris with a beautiful little garden laid out as he would have had it. 


Perfect for a pause in a busy day. I was interested by a display about Delacroix’s time in London. I hadn’t realised that he’d been to England (to my embarrassment, what kind of a London guide am I?). It had always puzzled me as to why his house was decorated with a replica of a Lapith v Centaur duel from the Parthenon Sculptures at the BM. Now I knew. Delacroix visited the British Museum in the company of his English friend, Thales Fielding.** The NG exhibition goes to town (rightly) on how significant Delacroix’s visit to Morocco was for his art but curiously for a British institution omits any lengthy reference to the impact of London on his art. Which is a shame.


In the Musée D they have a couple of beautiful watercolours done by the artist of tombs in Westminster Abbey. In the picture above you can see the replica of the BM panel and to the left the portraits of one another that Fielding and Delacroix made during his stay in London. It’s a joy to visit the studio as it shows you the intimate side of Delacroix that comes across in prose in his diary but which is missing both from the NG show and from the place that we went to next, the Louvre.

In the Louvre you have the big beasts. Sardanapalus, The Massacre at Chios, Les Femmes d’Alger. At the NG they have sketches and versions of these canvases but it’s not quite like seeing the real thing. Especially Sardanapalus which is a twisted mash up of sex, violence and soft furnishings. And of course then there’s Liberty Leading the People.*** Not even a sketch of this in London. And you do have to see it because in the flesh it is breathtaking and Important with a capital ‘I’ like no other painting of the nineteenth century. Politically revolutionary from an artist who otherwise I don’t see as overtly political. 

And this is missing from the NG’s thesis in London. Yes, Delacroix hands on a new sense of nature to Monet and Renoir, orientalism to Bazille and the rest but I wanted the politics that Manet picks up and makes such a big part of his work. Doesn’t Liberty have as a descendant the National’s own Emperor Maximilian? 

So go to the National for flowers, North Africa, nature and God. But then, if you’re lucky enough to have the time and the means, go to the Louvre for the politics.


And Murat. I don’t normally take photographs of paintings but I just couldn’t resist Joachim Murat in peach jodhpurs atop a tiger-skin saddle. 

* Yes, I know that’s what the internet is for! But if I’m buying for pleasure and not for work I prefer to go book-hunting myself and use serendipity as my guide. So after leaving the NG the first time I went to see Delacroix I first ransacked all the bookshops in Piccaddilly – ooh, isn’t there a Phaidon shop ON Piccadilly? No, of course not, that shut years ago. Then up Charing Cross Road, no luck. Up to Bloomsbury for a last chuck of the dice in Skoob and Judd Street. But then I thought of the second hand section in Waterstone’s Gower Street and (marvels!) not only did they have the book they had it in a fat French edition (£15) by Plon that is just a thing of wonder (‘un monument unique’ it says on the back and they’re not wrong). I plan to progress in a stately fashion through its pages but also ransack it at random for quotes about various shit that I’m interested in, and paintings/artists too.

** I read a column in The Spectator last week bemoaning outlandish modern names. As if this shit hasn’t been going on for years. I mean, Thales?!

*** There’s a really good In Our Time podcast on it on the BBC, well worth tracking down.

Review #39 Vagenende, Paris

April 23, 2016

In Paris for a Delacroix day we were looking for somewhere to eat in the vicinity of his former gaff in Saint Germain before strolling across the river to look at the big stuff in the Louvre. I had happened upon Ian Nairn’s guide to Paris in the library the day before and brought it along for the ride. Nairn (in 1968) recommends Vagenende as epitomising the difference between artistic and arty and having shrunk from the tourist traps of Flore and Les DM we were happy to follow his advice and call in for lunch.

IMG_4244

Nairn’s review from 1968

The plain exterior gives no hint of the wonders within. A beautifully preserved Belle Epoque room with original art on the walls, golden hued mirrors and the same gramophone player described by Nairn  behind the counter. The room has the same formal yet lived-in feel of Rowley’s in Jermyn Street but is less masculine and has more room. We got a table for two that would have four squeezed onto it in central London.

Service is classic French – formal and attentive, just the way I like it. Bread and water arrived while we were perusing the menu. Fish features big at the V so after a warm up of endive salad and pâté de campagne we went for mains of cod pie and pike. I was expecting standard brasserie food but this was at another level. The cod pie was in fact a beautifully crustless fishy soufflé-ish mixture in a garlicky broth. The pike on the other hand (which I feared would be a bony beast) turned out to be two quenelles of eggy baked yum in a thick sauce that was served at the table from a saucepan that looked straight out of a Chardin still life.

Conversation was aided by a very reasonably priced bottle of red (just over €20) and as lunch developed the large room began to reverberate to the hum of happy eaters. The clientèle seemed a mix of well-heeled locals and a smattering of fellow visitors. After a couple of good coffees we stumbled back onto the streets of Paris a hundred euros down but very, very happy fellers.

9/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #19 Le Voltaire, Paris

February 24, 2016

The last time I dined in Le Voltaire I’d left myself an hour for lunch before getting the train back to London.

Big mistake.

Being Henry de Montherlant’s local I should have known that Le V is not the kind of place to give you a Nando’s paced turnaround on the munching front. I’ll never forget the waiter’s shocked/ puzzled (shuzzled?) expression as he mouthed back at me ‘No coffee, Monsieur?!?!’ as he handed me the (heart-stoppingly big for a solo lunch) bill.

So I returned with nothing else scheduled for the day except a Eurostar from Gare du Nord at 6 o’clock, leaving me ample time to wallow in the the Voltaire experience.

Because it is an experience. If you plan to visit do read the comments on Google for a cross section of the most wrong-headed nutjobs to ever attempt to visit a high class Parisian restaurant.* To get the most out of Le V you have to treat it with respect. Don’t disrespect the V, as Tony Soprano might have said.

As well as being a haunt of Henry de M (before his death by his own hand) and various writers, actors and upper crust, it is the place where Voltaire himself lived way back in the eighteenth century. A statue of the old rascal looks down on present day company in a room that feels as if from another era once the door closes behind you and the twenty first century is lost from view. Objets d’art and paintings decorate the walls and a good run of lived in pannelling gives a masculine feel while not being overly intimidating.

Time slows.  A good thing.

The waiters are seasoned pros, discreet and scrupulous about service. They’ll greet Savile Row suited regulars like old friends yet make shabby, stressed newcomers like myself feel relaxed – expertise in hospitality that is rarely encountered in these start-up, make-a-buck times. I especially like the palaver that comes from everyone being fitted in behind tightly aligned (but generously sized) tables.

The menu seems more of a historical document than anything I’ve ransacked in the Bibliotèque Nationale, hand-written with specials overlaid in cute little notes. The prices are not for the faint-hearted, €50 plus for a fillet steak is, like an evening at Covent Garden, a self-indulgence for the likes of me; although the full room showed that there’s plenty of people around who would see that as a quotidian expense.

But you do get value for money. Not for Le Voltaire the sly tricks to squeeze the customer’s wallet. You want bread? Have as much as you like. Crudités? Side dishes of spuds, fries, veg? All in the deal. Petit fours with your coffee? With our compliments. And everything prepped/cooked to perfection.

The filet was a mouthwatering slab of pinky earthy paradise on a plate. I savoured every mouthful. Sorbet to clear up after was like nectar. Oh! And the wine …. Well, they’ve got some kind of a bible for the connoisseur but I was happy to pop down a €29 Côtes du Rhone with an Armagnac chaser.

Frankly, if I died there (as I believe Voltaire himself did) I would be dying a contented man.

9/10

*I especially liked the guy who was outraged that they wouldn’t let his wife use the toilet.

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap


%d bloggers like this: