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In France: Go with your gut

Posted by guest  January 23, 2009 10:11 AM

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I like to decide quickly what I’m going to eat in a restaurant. I usually have a good instinct for what will be good, and more particularly what won’t, and if I stare at the menu too long, I start feeling like I’m in a video store without knowing what to rent.
Despite a recent, glowing recommendation by you-know-who about Au Bascou’s Lievre à la Royale, (there’s a framed version of his Le Figaro review on the bar), I was curious to try the wild pigeon cooked two ways.
I love this kind of thing; a few years back while shooting pictures for a story about Spring, chef Daniel Rose served lamb three ways and I still remember the spoonful of tartare he slid under my nose. (Squirm all you want – more for me.)
Here at Au Bascou, the deep, earthy flavor of roast breast of wild pigeon reminded me why I love game, but les cuisses were the showstoppers: black-as-night thighs, legs and claws(!), on either side of the plate that looked like set pieces pinched from “The Dark Crystal.” I wondered aloud if they were to eat or just a gutsy garnish.
Me of little faith.
I took a bite and my hand did that thing where it involuntarily flies up in the faces of my dining companions, quaintly indicating something like "Shut up and let me taste this." The preparation -- en salmi -- a sauce made with the bird’s carcass and, as chef Bertrand Gueneron puts it, “lots of time bubbling away in wine,” give it a depth flavor that demands all of your attention.
Deep and primordial, it made me salivate so much, I almost drooled.
The service was a bit spotty – they seemed weirdly short-staffed and flighty for a place this nice – and two of us were crammed into strange theater chairs not made for eating, in but in one bite, a return customer was born.

Au Bascou
38, rue Réaumur,
75003 Paris

011 33 1 42 72 69 25

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Globe travel correspondent Joe Ray writes his own blog, Eating The Motherland and contributes to the English language version of Simon Says! the French food and lifestyle blog run by French food critic Francois Simon.

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