I had lunch at Benoit recently! Benoit is a classic Parisian brasserie that Chef Alain Ducasse opened in 2008, replacing La Cote Basque. What I did not know is that there is an original Benoit in Paris that opened in 1912 by Benoit Matray. This family restaurant was then sold in 2005 to Alain Ducasse. I might have to check that out the next time I am in Paris, although, it seems to be a bit pricey (not that the one in NYC is not)...
I was excited for sure as I recently read some articles about Alain Ducasse who was ranked number 6 Most successful Chef by Forbes in 2012 and number 1 of the French Chefs in revenue: 120 Million Euros, 27 restaurants all over the world and 19 Michelin stars (the second is Joel Robuchon with 75 Million Euros, 16 restaurants and 28 Michelin stars).
People often say that Benoit is a casual brasserie: I kind of disagree! It is an upscale brasserie with a splendid decor, especially the huge vase in the back of the dining room, the walls covered in mirrors and the old style ads.
While we were waiting for out meal to come, they brought us some delicious gougères, that are cheese puffs (choux).
These savory delicacies were light and airy. They are a bad idea to serve before lunch, because you can't stop eating them!!!
The traditional bread and butter followed.
So, here are some of the dishes I tried!
The country salad: frisée, lardons, poached egg and croutons.
I am not a big fan of frisée salad because it can sometimes be very bitter, but it was not the case. I liked the light dressing. The poached egg was perfectly cooked and created like a secondary sauce. It was very delicate.
The escargots de Bourgogne:
The special of the day: seared scallops:
I have to admit that this being a special and as I never take notes, I do not remember what the sauce was made of...They were served with salsify, that I usually do not like, but not this time. The scallops had a nice sear and a bit of salt on the outside that gave a little crunch. Unfortunately, I found them to be undercooked inside.
It has been a while since I had cassoulet and in fact, I thought about it thanks to the vegetarian cassoulet I had at Table Verte recently! The way they serve it and the way it looks is very rustic: I love it!
Cassoulet is a traditional dish from the South West of France. It is a slow cooked casserole made of white beans and meat, usually pork and duck. In this one, there was duck confit, pork sausage and pork meat (not sure if it was pork belly).
The dish was rich and earthy. It was definitely slow cooked all together and was not just put together once I ordered it! The beans were melting in my mouth, as did the duck that was delicious and did not have too much saltiness to it. This is the perfect example of a traditional French dish where the taste supersedes the presentation.
Then I could not leave without having the Baba!
Baba is a yeast cake that will be saturated with a hard liquor, usually rum. At Benoit, it is Armagnac. They first bring the cake, pour the armagnac and then put some delicious homemade whipped cream (they leave you the rest of it on the table in case you did not get enough...). This is the second time I have this dessert there and it is fantastic! Definitely a recommendation!
Interestingly and for those with a sweet tooth, they give you a delicious homemade meringue cookie when you leave! What? After all this food?
Benoit definitely met my expectations! Delicious food, great service in a beautiful decor!
And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!