Au Petit Sud Ouest, Paris – foie gras heaven
This restaurant has closed.
They say French women don’t get fat. How that’s possible remains a mystery to Greedy Girl who needs to work out like a madwoman to stay svelte and still enjoy her gastronomic adventures. In Paris, there’s so much temptation, especially at a delightful little neighbourhood gem in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower, Au Petit Sud Ouest.
This little shopfront, part restaurant, part shop, part deli, has been open for nigh on 22 years according to the extremely warm and welcoming proprietress Chantal Andre, and she proudly proclaimed that the menu has not changed during that time. If it ain’t broke, Greedy Girl supposes, it doesn’t need to be fixed. On a cool summer’s night in Paris, there’s a constant stream of patrons and too many leave disappointed because they haven’t made a booking. Quelle dommage.
Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband walked past the tiny restaurant, with just 18 tables, on the Avenue de la Bourdonnais on a previous trip and salivated just looking at the menu – foie gras, truffles, duck confit, all washed down with some fine-looking Bordeaux reds. Sadly though, they couldn’t find it again – until a walk back from a new coffee venue stirred memories for Greedy Girl. Eureka! We immediately booked a table and, in the early evening, duly presented ourselves and our bellies to experience some of the traditions of French gastronomy.
The restaurant is as quirky as the hosts – our aforementioned proprietess grabbed Greedy Girl’s hands and cooed over her lime green nail polish. Her husband Christian, also working the floor, is known to respond to the question “what’s good here?” with a hearty, “my wife”. He clearly has a big personality – but more on that later.
We ordered a bottle of 2006 Chateau Grand Lacaze Medoc, a lighter red from Bordeaux, and waited for our first courses – seared foie gras with truffles for Greedy Girl (pictured at the top of this blog) and foie gras natural for gluttonous husband.
The servings are enormous. Greedy Girl sighed at the sight of so many large pieces of buttery foie gras, topped with slices of black truffle and a truffle-laced butter sauce. Those with cholesterol issues should probably step away now. She did her very best but nearly half went over to gluttonous husband.
His foie gras ‘natural’ was very thinly sliced and served cold. He used it to ‘butter’ his hot toast and was advised to just put a light sprinkling of sel de Guerande on top. Gluttonous husband said the foie gras itself was superb but could have done without the salt and found the bread a bit too crunchy for his liking.
Greedy Girl would have been happy to down the red wine and have done with it. Hah. Belly already bursting, there was duck confit to come for her, and cassoulet for gluttonous husband.
His cassoulet, a traditionally hearty meal for a cool day (and it was, despite the so-called Paris ‘summer’) was presented in its own copper saucepan. Greedy Girl wishes she’d had a large handbag to spirit that away (just joking). Floating in the sea of beans and broth were hunks of pork and the most divine duck sausages ever. Despite her groaning belly, Greedy Girl kept sneaking forkfuls – it was just that good.
Our lease on the table was getting close to expiring and the constant stream of patrons trying to get in the door reminded us we were there for a good time, not a long one. Our very hospitable hosts tried to encourage us to order dessert and despite a tantalising-looking chocolate cake, Greedy Girl shook her head. Christian (he of the personality mentioned above) obviously could tell we were seriously undernourished so, accidentally on purpose, proceeded to give us the plates destined for the next table – just to watch us groan. A jolly, funny chap. Come to think of it, he and his wife no doubt dine fairly regularly on the food but were both very trim. How do they do this?
This is not a restaurant to go to if you’re looking for fish, or steak or, well, anything other than duck (although there are some goose liver dishes and a rather tasty scrambled egg and truffle starter). The huge number of diners from overseas walking in that night and being greeted as old friends is testament to the fact this restaurant knows what it’s about and does it extremely well. Enjoy it for what it is. It’s a treat.
Au Petit Sud Ouest
46 avenue de la Bourdonnais, Paris