I've been back from Paris for a week now and not done a single post, hectic week etc. but now for the Bank holiday weekend, beef rendang bubbling on the stove, time to blog at last!
Jo selected Derrière as our venue for Saturday night. Karine joined us and we were seated at one of the quirky tables, each different (upstairs one is a bed), arranged on the ground floor around a ping pong table. There are individual lamps to light each group creating a relaxed, somewhat unusual, and intimate atmosphere.
Derrière is owned by Mourad Mazouz, owner of Sketch and Moro in London, having read many less than complimentary reviews of Sketch over the last months I was pleased to find the food we had at Derrière to be very good indeed.
We began things with a couple of starters between us, the cucumber and the tomato. Each dish is named after the key ingredient, with the emphasis being vegetarian, sadly for Jo the same cannot be said of the main course offerings, but more on that later.
The cucumber was served with cottage cheese which was not at all how I recollect ever eating it. I tend to feel it has a dieting connotation and have never seen it on a menu in London. I was most pleasantly surprised. It was rich and cheesy, not chalky in the typical way and was the perfect warm up to the main event.
Cucumber is cucumber, there's not a lot more to say about it but the tomato dish is stunning in its simplicity but is packed full of taste with a vast array of varieties, served in their natural state with a sprinkling of sea salt and good olive oil.
The starters were accompanied by some bread which was good quality and onto the mains. I ordered the whole turbot but was actually presented with fillets of seabass. I was enjoying the good company and fine bottle(s) of Beaujolais a little too much to even notice at the time. Anyhow, the seabass was divine, succulent and tender, served with roasted vegetables and creamy polenta. I loved it, and didn't even think of the fact that it wasn't turbot until days later.
The pesto sauce was seriously good stuff and the side of polenta is just visible at the bottom of the picture above, this has forever changed my opinion of polenta and I now am a big fan, this version was cheese laden, gooey inside with a crisp golden top.
Perhaps the winner of the evening was Karine's Beef cheek casserole which was served up in an impressive cast iron pot. Though Karine had serious food envy and seemed less pleased with it herself!
The beef cheeks were incredibly tender and the portion size was enormous, fortunately we could all have a try! Except for Jo who doesn't eat meat, the solitary vegetarian main course option was gazpacho, more of a starter I'd say. It's certainly a struggle for Jo being a veggie in Paris where they love their meat but she said that the gazpacho was very good.
Thomas' main course was pork tenderloin with wild mushrooms. He was disappointed that the thin slices of pork were not more tender but the accompanying mushrooms were enough to make up for it.
We all skipped dessert as we were running late to meet Jamie. It was 12 by the time we finished. The service was a little slow at times but tap water was provided and the food really was great. I love how dinner seems to be much later than here in London, everyone heads home after work and then back out later to dine rather than heading out straight from the office which is more common here. I like long and lingering evenings, it's no surprise to anyone that the Parisians take their food a lot more seriously than we tend to.
I loved Derrière and would love to return on my next trip, which I'm hoping will be fairly soon, I totally fell for Paris last weekend.
69, Rue des Gravilliers
Thanks to Karine for the images!