Last Friday was our first class excursion – to the famous Musée du Louvre, of course. Our tour, entitled “Black Images in European Art”, led us on a winding path through the maze of galleries over the course of an hour and a half. The tour guide put it best – “We’ll be passing lots of masterpieces along the way, so I’ll try to stop and point them out, but I won’t have time to say much about them.” To channel my inner Instagram/Twitter/social media user, I believe the following hashtags are in order: #OnlyAtTheLouvre #Paris #awestruck
Our tour was in the evening, so upon its conclusion, a couple of friends and I headed to the Marais area for some authentic French food. Though we had originally planned to dine at a place called A La Biche au Bois (The Deer in the Woods), it was full when we arrived, so rather than wait an hour for a table, we headed next door to Bar Tarmac, a half-bar, half-restaurant. They had an incredible prix-fixe menu for 26 euro, so we were happy with the alternative. As a side note, yes, 26 euro is kind of expensive, but just wait until you see all the food we got. Besides, the three of us were willing to splurge a little on a nice dinner, so it all worked out.
First, we enjoyed apertifs (pre-dinner drinks) – white wine mixed with a little blackberry juice. We also got a quarter-liter of red wine and a half-liter of rosé — too much wine for the three of us, but oh well.
Next, we had a choice of appetizers: potato croquettes, cured salmon (Gravlax), or 2 tapas of your choosing. I went with the tapas, and chose manchego cheese with citrus marmalade and eggplant toasts.
Our main course options were the “Big Tarmac” burger, lamb with cous cous, beef tartare (aka raw beef), ginger chicken with plantain fries, salmon with potatoes, or ravioli in tomato sauce with rocket and Serrano ham. I went with the lamb, which came at the suggestion of our waiter and seemed like one of the more ‘French’ dishes.
Though the lamb was delicious, the cous cous was the real highlight of the meal. It wasn’t too dry, which is hard to achieve with cous cous, and it had interesting flavors and well-paired garnishes – Persian spices along with pieces of dried fig and apricot.
Last, but definitely not least, was dessert! We each ordered different ones so we could try each others – a very useful and delicious strategy. The crème brûlée was the best I’ve had so far – light, creamy, and perfectly caramelized and crispy on top. The yogurt ice cream (their house speciality) was unique and pretty good, and the molten chocolate cake was great, as usual (how can it be bad?). All in all, a great meal for a great value.