February 27, 2008

You want French food? A.O.C.’s the real thing.

Posted in Food, Visitors tagged , , , , at 2:07 am by Lauren

Saturday night we had the most amazing dinner at A.O.C. The initials stand for Appellation d’Origine Controlee, which basically means, “We French people know where this comes from and certify it’s okay.” So if you’re looking for great French food in Paris, look no further than this unpretentious, homey restaurant in the 5th arrondissement.

Table at A.O.C.

We had an early reservation for dinner, which turned out to be an invitation to eat with all the English speakers in Paris. Only two tables were French speakers, and more than five others were English speakers. Still, the waitstaff pleased me immensely by speaking only French with us. That alone is enough to make me love a restaurant. Ah, supporting my ego is tough… But they did speak English, for those of you who want to try but don’t speak French. (Strangely, while they did speak English, the waiter told the table of Brits in the corner that he didn’t. I guess I was mistaken and only one of the waiters spoke English? Or someone was getting the snub.) Anyway, we had taken the early reservation in order to assure ourselves a table since we’d only called a few hours before. However, it seems that wasn’t necessary, and we probably would have been able to get a later reservation. Several people without reservations were also seated at our early eating hour. 

We started out with the house aperitif, which was pink, sparkling, and just yummy. I was trying to figure out what was in it (I think Campari was one ingredient) by spying on the bar. We chose the wine of the month (le coup de coeur de la patronne, specifically) to drink with dinner, which was a red Domaine Richaud.

The specials and the regular menu looked so appetizing. I went for a plate I’ve been dying to try since I was 11 years old, reading Asterix and Obelix in Turkey: wild boar. (Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making it possible for me to write that sentence.) I didn’t know what to expect when the plate came out, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t look like Obelix’ big cut of meat on the spit. Still, I was salivating at the thought. And not only was I getting wild boar, but it came with mashed potatoes with chives and smoky lard flavor (but not the actual bits of meat – yay!). It was excellent, and I’d order it again in a second.

Wild boar

Elizabeth also ordered off the nightly specials, getting the coquilles Saint Jacques, and her scallops were perfectly prepared if a little hard to get out of the shell. Apparently it had been a popular dish at lunch that day because they ran out within half an hour of our arrival. Hers was accompanied by a puree of potatoes (or perhaps cauliflower) with a taste of cheese.

Allen went for the assiette rotisseur, a selection of meats from the rotisserie. He was crazy for the pork and could have eaten just that. (Frankly, I couldn’t tell what was what in the heap of meat on his plate, but the bite he gave me tasted pretty darn good. Moist and juicy.) His had roasted potatoes under the cuts of meat.

The dinner portions were exactly the right size, so we opted for dessert. However, the dessert portions were pretty large. We could have shared a dessert between the three of us and been quite happy. Allen and I had the creme brulee (with vanilla from Reunion), and Elizabeth chose the impressive ile flottante.

AOC Specials

In sum, A.O.C. has amazing, fresh, truly French food. Go, bring all your friends, and definitely try the wild boar. Now I’m off to clean the drool off my keyboard.

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