Nestled on a quiet street in the fashionable Bonne Nouvelle district of Paris, is Bistro Volnay. Recommended by a friend prior to my Easter getaway, I had booked a table in keen anticipation. The restaurant itself is beautiful, with dark wood, art deco mirrors and exquisite table setting.
To start, the difficult task of negotiating the wine menu in French, however once accomplished we tucked in to the bottomless bread basket, a common feature of French dining.
Opting for the a la carte menu, the starters were sublime. The pigs trotter terrine magnificently flavoursome and the frois gras, rich and smooth. Our main courses provided an array of succulent white fish dishes and melt in the mouth steak. We managed to squeeze in a few Parisian desserts too. A cold rice pudding with salted caramel sauce ranked high as one of my favourite sweets to date.
Bistro Volnay is a fabulous old glamour restaurant and the a la carte menu is great value for some beautiful, traditional French cuisine. I cannot forget to mention the freshly baked, warm madeleines that circled the restaurant throughout the meal, a welcome extra, which made for a fantastic evening.
Through the porn shop, past the bondage mannequin and down the stairs to a cave-like restaurant. The La Bodega Negra experience begins when you dare yourself to go through the inconspicuous entrance.
It is candle-lit and bubbling with conversation, a bold and striking atmosphere, which has drummed up much attention since opening a few months ago.
The food itself is flavoursome and presented creatively, the tacos served in the Mexican equivalent of a toast rack. Despite the wonderful interior and fantastic atmosphere, I couldn’t help but be slightly underwhelmed by the food. It does everything right, but lacks the ‘wow factor’ which would be expected following the hype. It’s not an expensive restaurant per se, a small plate of seared steak tacos costs £6.50, but I know that if I were to venture further afield I could find the same quality for better value.
Having said that, the restaurant and the experience it provides is enough in itself to garner much success and popularity and is a fantastic spot for a Friday night.
Attending a book launch for Sarah Bridge’s fabulous new book about the perils of dating in your late 30′s, http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Catch-Your-Husband-Adventures/dp/1845967984, had left us hungry on the Strand. Opera Tavern delivered two barside seats and (weirdly) a bowl of mixed salad within five minutes of sitting down. Apparently thin people sometimes eat salad first to help them not eat the proper food. This salad was so well dressed it turned out to be a great start to a small plate meal that left us satisfied – rather than still slightly hungry at the end. Duck confit with pomegranate was treacly and tart all in one go. Lamb cutlet led to a polite fight over who could swipe the last morsel. Puddings made you smile, instead of wish you’d had another plate of ham as sometimes can happen with tapas. There’s lots going on in each dish, and they all worked. If someone took me there on a date they’d score a 10 for excellent taste in restaurants.