Diane Keaton’s Favorite Bistro – Le Grand Colbert

One night in Paris, when we were hungry early (by Parisian standards, 7:30 PM is INSANELY early to dine) and wanted somewhere with a huge menu full of French comfort food, we stumbled across Le Grand Colbert.
 That’s kind of like saying that we stumbled across the Plaza Hotel or Disneyland. We were just wandering around, but really, Le Grand Colbert is an incredibly well known Parisian brasserie. Some say it has the best roast chicken in Paris. 
 And by “some people”, I mean Diane Keaton’s character in Something’s Got to Give. Clearly, my sister was impressed. 
 The room, which you will recognize if you have seen the movie, is done in the grand old brasserie style, with mosaic-tiled floors, wooden chairs and white tablecloths.
 Rose Champagne
This is worth mentioning because it comes in a carafe. Like house wine. A CARAFE of champagne. This has revolutionized the way that I think about champagne. 
As in…I think I want even more of it. 
 French Onion Soup
This was the best French Onion Soup of the trip, hands down. It was so robust and complex – we could taste the round, vivid beef in the broth, so vibrant that it was almost funky. It was sort of electric tasting, in the way that really great blue cheese has a life of its own. The onions provided a counterpart that was so sweet and soft that it became jammy next to the pepper of the soup and the gentle tang of the sherry. 
The cheese was nutty, crusty and bubbling away atop of slices of sourdough bread that became soft when soaked in the soup. 
 Foie Gras de Canard
Of course, I love goose foie more, but this was an excellent duck foie. Creamy texture, mild taste that was not too gamy, just rich and fatty. The cool squares of gelee on the side paired with the plump, wine saturated raisins completed this dish. 
 Fines de Claire
Large, briny oysters, tasting more of the sea than of cream. Positively fresh, smelling faintly of seaweed and the ocean, they burst in my mouth with salt and brine. 
A side of tart mignonette sauce brought the oysters another piquant dimension. 
Steak Tartare Epice
This steak tartare was good but not great. The meat was ground too finely and was a bit mushy. The flavor of the meat was also obscured by the spices in the meat. It was all salt, sour and heat, with too many strong capers and onions hiding the natural flavor of the beef. It wasn’t bad, not by a long stretch of the imagination, it just wasn’t as incredible as the beef tartare at Chez Andre
 
 Roast Chicken.
This dish was almost as great as I had hoped it would be. It was never going to ACTUALLY be the greatest roasted chicken on earth because, obviously, I make that. But this was dam close. Tender and juicy within, under a browned and crispy skin. The most notable thing about the chicken was the gravy. It was thick but not heavy or greasy, and was filled with the comforting taste of chicken, the bite of black pepper and the woodsy taste of thyme. The thyme was the kicker here. It was used in such abundance, and without any other competing herbs. It gave the dish such a straightforward and earthy vibe that it was reminiscent of eating outside – that sensual and startling. Definitely going to start using more thyme in my own roast chicken. 
 Frites
The fries weren’t great, but they did the job. Especially soaked in some of that outstanding gravy.

Le Grand Colbert was a solid restaurant. Absolutely worthwhile for a lunch, though I can’t say for sure that I would come here for dinner again. The service was a little spotty and pretentious and the entrees were not as good as they should be. But for a quick lunch of  French onion soup and oysters, I can’t think of a more delightful spot. 

Comments

  1. JustinM says:

    I signed up for Netflix back in '05 and the first time I ordered a movie (The Gathering Storm) they sent me the wrong film: Something's Gotta Give. So, liking Jack and Amanda Peet, I watched it. I did not enjoy it. But then again I don't think I'm the target audience.

    Those fries look kind of pathetic.

  2. ldyginger says:

    Has steve G. seen this!?!?!

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Justin-crappy movie, very subpar fries. But the onion soup was insanely good!
    @Ldyginger-but of course! ;)

  4. Sarah says:

    I want that french onion soup more than I want sex.

  5. Steve says:

    Love the movie. Love Amanda Peet. A beautiful, fresh young face. Always love Jack Nicholson, cool at any age. Also loved Le Grand Colbert! Had the French onion soup and cold lobster with Champagne. A perfect night on our anniversary! How could you not like the movie?? :)

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