Meli Melo: December 4, 2011

Meli Melo: December 4, 2011
Paris “Bubble Bar” photograph by ©Francis Beddok AKA Paris-emoi Paris Bubble Bar: only until January 15, 2012 What you see above is not a dreamy rendering, it’s an actual photograph by Francis Beddok of the new Bubble Bar where the fortunate few will celebrate New Year’s Eve in Paris. Just opened, the Bubble Bar at the Paris Hilton Arc de Triomphe is described as a snow globe by some, a Champagne bubble by others. The 16-foot-tall Bubble Bar is a collaboration between Hilton Hotels, Taittinger Champagne and the wildly imaginative fashion set designer Jean-Hugues de Chatillon. Only 35 people at a time can tchin-tchin at the Bubble Bar‘s lounge with center circular bar. The Hilton is offering Taittinger Champagne by the glass nightly for €25 plus a special New Year’s Eve room package available only through the Hilton by calling 01 5836 6716. Once in a lifetime New Year’s Eve in Paris? This could be it, non?   Just opened: Restaurant Albion, Paris 10th By Marie Z. Johnston Two days ago I received an email from a friend, who also happens to be a respected restaurateur. He had been to dinner at “Matt & Hayden’s” new place, which opened not quite a week ago.  “Beautiful job,” he wrote “food just like I remember!” Having heard positive rumblings of this imminent opening, how could I not gather up a couple of friends and head over for lunch after such an excellent tip? Restaurant Albion is the new venture by chef Matt Ong and bartender Hayden Clout—both spent many years at Fish la Boissonnerie in the Paris 6th. Albion was comfortably full at 12:30, with people happily eating and talking at well-spaced tables. The room is spacious and calm, with deep blue-grey walls and three large windows facing a calm, bright, planted courtyard. The zinc bar and wall of wine on either side of a large table displaying Hayden Clout’s  “Wines of the Week” selections nicely separating the dining room from the cave à vins.  Wood floors and a cleverly baffled ceiling keep sounds from the open kitchen well under control, making conversation easy. Chef Matt Ong keeps the daily à la carte menu to the point: 3 Entrees, 4 Plats, a tempting cheese plate and 2 desserts. After a quick look at plates delivered to a neighboring table, we changed our minds one last time and ordered. Marina, Hayden’s delightful wife, suggested the 2008 Le Rocher des Violettes from  Montlouis by Xavier Weisskopf (22E) from the weekly selections. She was right: it went very well with our meal. We began with the burrata with pesto, a sure bet, the rich creaminess married with the reassuring taste of lingering summer. The riskier risotto of cauliflower with an anchovy crumble was not only perfectly al-dente, it was impeccably balanced between the wholesome flavor of choufleur, cream and the slightly spicy, toasted crumb-anchovy topping—just enough to make it just right. For our Plats, we ordered the Lamb Confit, Cabillaud and Roast St. Jacques. The Lamb Confit was served with an onion and garlic purée, braised endive and a delightful “salad” of gently dressed mustard shoots. The Cabillaud consisted of a thick slice of delicate cod served Iberian style in a delicate broth with palourdes clams and smoky bacon. My favorite were the St. Jacques; again, a daring and winning flavor combination of tender, moist scallops atop slices of Boudin Noir with a Jerusalem artichoke purée. We didn’t indulge in the cheese plate, though several around us did. It certainly seemed better than most, with a varied cheese selection of Brillat-Savarin, Roquefort and a small production, raw milk Etivaz from the Swiss Alps, served with homemade chutney and green salad. One to share for the table would be an excellent idea paired with a nice glass of Vacqueyras or Syrah from the Pays d’Oc. For dessert we ordered the excellent tarte of orange and lemon curd (as only the English can make) in a delicate, thin and crispy pastry finished under the broiler (it seems) to produce a lovely brown top layer not unlike a crème brûlée. Served with a house-made, unsweetened crème fraiche, this was, in a word, heaven. I chatted a bit with both Hayden and Matt about Albion. Hayden described their adventures in remodeling—the room is their design entirely—and Matt explained the seasonal menu. Both spoke about the unruffled, timely service. It is abundantly clear that they like and respect each other after “practicing for 8 years,” as they put it, while working together at the always packed St-Germain-des-Prés bar and resto, Fish. With this very strong beginning, it sure looks like practice makes perfect . . . and the coffee is good, too. PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Restaurant Albion Tél: 01.4246.0244 80, rue du Faubourg Poissonniere, Paris 10th Métro: Poissonniere, line 7 Open Tuesday through Saturday Lunch 12-2pm Dinner 7-10pm Cave à vins in the afternoons Prices: Entrée €6.50—€8 Plats: €12—€22 Cheese:…
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