Friday September 24th – Marathon dining

We had a late luncheon appointment at Bistrot du Sommelier in the 8th arrondisement. David and I have walked by countless times and sometimes stopped in only to find the restaurant complete (full) or closed on the weekends. It’s a cozy place with a nice ambience. The owner, Philippe Faure-Brac, Meilleur Sommelier du Monde 1992 (World’s Best Sommelier), offers several daily specials and you can choose two or three courses for lunch. With each course the server pours a different wine that has been selected by the owner, but does not tell you what it is. David got the main grape (Sauvignon Blanc) with his first course, but thought it might be from the eastern Loire (Sancerre or Quincy). It turned out to be a white Bordeaux. He also pegged his red as from the southern Rhone, but couldn’t get the village right. I came close on the dessert wine, which I thought was a Vouvray (Chenin Blanc). Again, the grape was right, but it was from Anjou, west of Vouvray. Actually, not too bad for a couple of amateurs. The food was good and the sampling of wines different and enjoyable. Also, Philippe stopped by each table to chat with the patrons and was very personable.

After lunch the weather turned into torrents of rain and we had quite a hike back to the hotel. We waited and left when the rain lessened and made our way back up Boulevard Hausmann to the Sofitel Hotel.That evening we were to meet our friends from Tours, Marc and Catherine Refabert at the newest, hottest, hippest, bistro in Paris, La Gazzetta in the 12th arrondisement. After 40 minutes of clogged streets and a 24 Euro taxi fare we arrived and saw the place was empty. We were somewhat relieved when it filled up in a short period of time. We both had reservations about the restaurant as we read some very mixed reviews, complaining about the food and service. The menu was reasonably priced and you got to choose either a five or seven-course dinner. With my petite appetite, I personally was happy that the chef allowed me to taste three courses, onion soup, lobster, and dessert. All were wonderful. Everyone else chose the five-course menu which added smoked mashed potato, and beef courses. The wines were very reasonable and were small production labels from non-major wine areas, plus Spain and Italy. Marc chose two reds, which he, David, and Catherine polished off with vigor. I stuck with the house white by the glass. Overall, we thought the restaurant was excellent – imaginative food, reasonable prices, and a nice atmosphere.

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