29 August 2010

first or second impression: quedubon, 75019

Image swiped from paris-bistro.com.

Rather than devoting weeks of careful thought to My First Post, I figure I might as well just serve up whatever's freshest in mind. At the moment it's the restaurant / cave à vin Quedubon, in the 19eme, where I dined on Friday night in the trusty company of my Native Companion (a Parisian). Since the dinner in question predates the founding of this blog, and I'm no good with forethought, the pictures above are not my own. I filched them. (RESOLUTION: In future posts I'll try to come up with original photographic content.)

Anyway, Quedubon's been on my radar for a while, but this was my first proper meal there. A month or two ago I'd popped by for a wine tasting and was sufficiently impressed with the depth of the blackboard-scrawled wine list that I resolved to return for a full meal, despite the restaurant's unbelievably stupid name. (Surely I'm not the only person who has pointed this out. Imagine an organic restaurant in, say, San Francisco calling itself "Nothing But Good." Diners would choke.) Then some weeks later Quedubon came up in conversation with my friend Guy from Le Dirigeable (a future post...), and he confirmed that, indeed, many of his restaurateur friends had been talking the place up.  All that was left was to await a suitable occasion, which duly arrived when I began to feel guilty for all the help my Native Companion had donated during the course of a challenging catsitting gig earlier this month. (Not worth going into.) 

The verdict?

Service was about as rushed and manic as you can expect for a hot restaurant in Paris on a Friday night, but the servers themselves, when they arrived, were always agreeably knowledgeable and earnest. (These weren't young dudes. They were probably owners. I should shut up about them, if I want to return...) And they didn't blink when NC revealed that she's a no-fish vegetarian; they promptly offered to fix up a plate of veggies. (That the veggies, finally, were apparently prepared in beurre doux and little else, not even salt, doesn't really matter: NC is used to this sort of thing in Paris, where such requests can at times be met with outright mockery.) I myself had some delicious raw sardine filets marinated in coriander (8eu), followed by kind of a middling joue du bœuf croustillant in red wine sauce (17eu) that felt something like the culinary equivalent of painting with primary colors (fat, red wine, done). 

But: that blackboard-scrawled wine list. It deserves much appreciation. Infrequent gaps and thumb-smudges testified to its being edited nightly, on the fly. No shortage of excellent names: Karim Vionnet, Gilles & Catherine Verge, Chateau St. Anne, and so on. Prices for bottles start in the early twenties and accelerate quickly into the 50-100eu range. They've made up for this with an extremely accessible and downright great by-the-glass list. One of these is the wine I'll highlight in this post: the 2007 Christian Binner Kaefferkopf Gewurztraminer. (ANOTHER RESOLUTION: Will generally try not to bang on about more than one terrific wine per post, since in my experience doing so can lead to confusion and information / vintage overload.) At 6eu for 12cl, the Kaefferkopf is Quedubon's most expensive white by the glass (excepting Champagne), but it remains a bargain. 

A Digression About Gewurztraminer: Usually I avoid it.  Even (or especially) in the best examples I find it a little fireworksy, a little ostentatious, fairly bludgeoning the palate with tropical wallops of lychee fruit and white pepper and god-knows-what-else. It's like a Pandora's wine, or one of those novelty peanuts tins filled with a fifteen-foot sequinned python. My taste in white wine usually runs a little more ascetic and razor-like. In this case it was the name Christian Binner that persuaded me, since to this day I've yet to be disappointed with any one of his dizzying range of wines. 

The Kaefferkopf, so titled because it derives from Alsace's 51st (!) and most recently established cru, upheld this Binner standard spectacularly. It was rich, yes, and round, but with a crackling intensity that testified to perfect acid calibration. The fruit was healthy and firm, and well-complemented in the side palate by a delightful older-Riesling-like kerosene note. My only regret was ceding the glass to NC in exchange for her (also very good) Verge VDT Chardonnay, because in truth the Gewurz sort of steamrollered my sardines, and she preferred it. Oh, another regret: I should have ordered it later, perhaps with the excellent, varied cheese plate we ordered, over which the server had inexplicably (to me) grated nutmeg. 

Quibbling aside, the proprietors of Quedubon are clearly some courageous folk, tacking up a list this long, and establishing a restaurant this (relatively) ambitious, in a quiet side street between some large not-too-chichi housing blocks just outside the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It's worth the trek. I'll probably skip over to Le Dirigeable this week to confirm again what my friend there has already heard. 

Quedubon Production
15, rue du Plateau
Tel: 01 42 38 18 65
Metro: Buttes-Chaumont

Image swiped from paris-bistro.com.

1 comment:

  1. This is great! So indicative of your time there. You are just brilliant- bright, smart writing. Thanks for sharing your Parisian experience as if it were my very own, but better!