One of the best 'traditional' meals we had during our recent Paris trip was at Chez Dumonet, Restaurant Josephine. It's a store front bistro that turned out amazing renditions of classic bistro dishes. It's run by chef Jean-Christian Dumonent, who, in addition to being a seriously skilled chef, is also a really cool cat. He worked the dining room tirelessly during our meal and I do not mean that he schmoozed. He took it upon himself to essentially expedite the dining room so that all the diners had everything they wanted and servers were doing their jobs without issue. When we chose a wine, he suggested bringing another one that he felt would pair better with what we'd ordered. He also had a great sense of humor and because of the way he comported himself, there was no mistaking the fact that this was his 'maison.' Pictures are captioned in my terrible French to English translation but menus are posted here for those who want to see them as we saw them in the restaurant . . .117 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris, FranceMenuDessert MenuAmuse
Not sure exactly what this tasty little cup held but but I'm pretty sure it was some sort of squash or pumpkin soup garnished with some aged balsamic vinegar.Smoked Salmon
Cold-smoked by chef Dumonet himself. It was gloriously fatty and unctuous, and it made me totally embarrassed by the stuff I make.Terrine de Campagne Maison
A great rendition with beautiful flavors and definition.Stuffed Morels
This appetizer portion was sizeable and totally awesome. They were stuffed with forcemeat, naturally! Stuffed Morels, up close
Morel porn, plain and simple.Cassoulet
I had cassoulet a number of times on this trip and this was, by a wide margin, the best one . . . and the best version I can ever remember having. The beans were tender but not mushy at all, the meats were flavorful and the resuting pot liquor was garlicky and rich. Even the crunchy cracklins came through with perfection.Cassoulet, plated
I shot this before I managed to scoop some of the duck confit out of the pot. Love that big hunk of bacon in there!Duck Confit
Textbook, awesome. This was ordered by my son, who absolutely loved it. It really was perfect with the soft, fatty meat and crackly-crispy skin.Grilled Andouillette
Wow! I'd never had this before but I knew to expect that it would be funky and was it ever. It was almost barnyard-like. I was so incredibly full but I still couldn't stop nibbling it.Millefeuille Jean-Louis
This was another sensational dish, that we couldn't stop eating in spite of ourselves. I don't know what part was best...the pastry, the cream or the chocolate. The portion size was enormous. I think we ate about half of it.Apple Tart
A delectable work of art. Not very sweet at all, which made it all the more compelling. This was a seriously masterful dish.Grand Marnier Souffle
So tall and light. The flavor was subtle and the light crunch from the shell and the crystal sugar with which it was dusted was a fantastic sensation.Me and Chef
I really just wanted a picture of chef but being the super nice guy that he is, he insisted that we take one together. It's cool that I have it and I'm really glad he suggested it.
I loved everything about Chez Dumonet because by eating there, I was educated in exactly how these classic dishes are supposed to be executed. In a large sense, I finally "got it." It's going to be very hard to order most of these dishes at home now because most local versions don't come close to measuring up. The only negative about the meal was that it came only about 3 hours after our epic lunch at Alain Ducasse
and we were really full. At one point, I think chef Dumonet was a bit concerned that we didn't like our food until we apologized to him and explained to him about our huge lunch at Ducasse. At that point, his eyes lit up, he smiled and practically embraced us. Not only did he no longer seem concerned about our apparent lack of appetite, he actually seemed bemused that we would even attempt such a combination. But honestly, we left food on those plates at Dumonet that I really wish I had in front of me right now. I cannot believe how little of that cassoulet -- the best one I'd ever had -- I actually managed to put away. No matter how great a trip is, there are always some regrets. I don't pine for the museums or cathedrals I didn't visit in Paris. I'm not really sorry that I missed going down into the catacombs or up in the Eiffel Tower but the food I couldn't finish and the restaurants, boulangeries, patisseries and boucheries I never visited . . . those still sting and probably will for some time.
At the end of the evening, chef actually apologized to us for his food not being as good as Ducasse's. I assured him that as much as we loved Ducasse, his was food that we'd love to eat everyday. Any future trips I make to Paris will unquestionably include another meal cooked by chef Jean-Chrisitan Dumonet . . . if I have anything to say about it.
Chez Dumonet, Restaurant Josephine
117 Rue du Cherche-Midi
75006 Paris, France
01 45 48 52 40
I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try. --Todd SniderTwitter: ronniesuburban