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Best Paris Restaurant - Josephine Chez Dumonet

Best Paris Restaurant - Josephine Chez Dumonet

Old Nov 14th, 2010, 05:20 PM
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Best Paris Restaurant - Josephine Chez Dumonet

If you are very lucky AND you have been very, very, good – helped grandmothers cross the street, dropped money in street people’s hats, bought scout cookies at every chance - you may just get to taste the morilles farcies (stuffed morel mushrooms) at Josephine Chez Dumonet.

Remember in the movie, Babette’s Feast when the general tastes the quail dish and remembers having had it years before at Babette’s famous restaurant, and he goes on and on to the gushing point about this marvelous dish and his eyes roll back in his head and he almost gets a little teary? That is how I felt when first tasted these absolutely AMAZING morilles farcies.

Twenty years ago in Paris I had some morilles farcies that I have been talking about ever since. So when I saw them on the menu at Josephine Chez Dumonet, I ordered them in a heartbeat without even bothering to notice the price – which I discovered later was a hefty 39 euros. They offer a smaller portion for 27 euros but I’m strongly urging you to get the big indulgent version and share it at the table and be prepared to SWOON.

That is precisely what I did when this elegant long white rectangular platter arrived with 5 HUGE perfectly-proportioned morilles, the biggest ones I have ever seen, spaced evenly across the plate and bathed in a rich caramelized brown sauce. http://flic.kr/p/8Tr2cF

If you’re not familiar with morilles, they look like brown quilted hobbit caps. The fragrance of these luscious delicacies scarcely prepared me for the mind-blowing flavors that exploded from that first bite. The first thing you get is the woodsy sponginess of the morille, then the buttery smooth filling of black truffle, fois gras, port, ham, and cream. Then the rich fragrant notes of Havana cigars, coffee, and Hermes leather chime in to create an astonishing flavor experience you never want to end.

Suddenly I caught myself with fork held high and big Texas smile that caught the attention of every waiter in the place who quickly gathered 'round to tell me what was in this dish that I now adore. I could barely squeak out my praise, “absolument inoubliable” (absolutely unforgettable) “une expérience religieuse” (a religious experience) and yes, I wiped away a tear. It was one of the top five food experiences of my life.

That first bite of these woodsy creamy quilted dreams http://flic.kr/p/8Tu7ro transported me to other bests of my life - my first red-headed lover, my first opera, my first underwater glimpse of the Cayman Islands. That one bite was thousands of times better than most everything else I have ever tasted. Seriously folks, these babies alone are worth a plane ticket to Paris, and I’m not even slightly joking.

A lady at the table of three next to me ordered a platter of morilles farcies straightaway and I observed quietly, anticipating her response. All three diners tasted the morilles with glee, literally licking their spoons. The most straight-faced of them looked me square in the eye and declared them “parfait” (perfect), a huge compliment compared to the typical French “pas mal” (not bad).

I love the ambiance at Josephine Chez Dumonet: the lighting, the flowers, the seating arrangement, and the perfectly adorable chef in the white coat who runs this ship with tight reigns and an impish grin.

He is Chef Jean- Christian Dumonet, the master of this venerable culinary domain. At every turn, he is there, noticing each single table, reminding his waiters how to provide impeccable service. He and his lovely wife, Lucile, will probably greet you, pour you another glass of wine, and check to see how you like your food.

Why? Because Chef Dumonet KNOWS his food is GOOD, and he wants to see your reaction to it. That is what he lives for. And he really knows his sauces. When you taste the RICH deep-textured sauces in his boeuf bourguignon aux tagliatelles http://flic.kr/p/8Tu7oW, escalope de foie gras aux raisins (green grapes)http://flic.kr/p/8Tr29R , or millefeuille de pigeon et ses cuisses confits, you can taste every hour that he stood over the stove lovingly stirring in wines and stocks, the ONLY way to create these sublime sauces that literally stack when you draw a spoon through them.

I enjoyed watching him waiting from his vantage point in the bar to see the reaction of a table of happy diners when they got their desserts. He was like a little kid watching someone open their Christmas presents from him. When these diners oohed and ahhed over their Grand Marnier soufflés, he giggled with delight. His food is his gift. We simply pay for the delivery.

Chef Dumonet goes the extra MILE to deliver an extremely high-quality food experience, this from moi, a self-confessed food snob. (I’ll admit that I tend to think I can make better food than that of most restaurants, EXCEPT Josephine Chez Dumonet.) As soon as I tasted the morilles farcies, I asked Madame Dumonet for standing reservations every Monday and Thursday for the next month, something I have never done in my life!

After you receive a nice crisp glass of chardonnay (on the house), and after you have enjoyed Chef’s second gift of a creamy pumpkin or cauliflower soup, you will get the wine list. Apparently, Chef has accumulated quite a collection in the cave (wine cellar) he disappears into through the steps in the corner of the bar.

I am told he has priceless wines that most wine lovers can only dream about. And it’s possible that if you buy a finer wine, you may actually get a trip to the wine cellar when Chef has a few spare moments.

Here’s the thing. No matter where you eat in Paris, if you get an appetizer, entrée, glass of wine, and dessert, you are going to spend a minimum of 45 euros. For my money, I’d rather spend 10 euros more and get one of the best meals of my LIFE at Josephine Chez Dumonet.

I was there last week at one of the front tables about 12 feet from the bar, eating my regular appetizer of morilles farcies, and LOVING them, when I noticed Gerard Depardieu sitting at the bar observing diners' meals, and saying in French, “Salad, Salad, and what is that Madame is having?” nodding at me. I nodded back and said “It’s good.”

Chef greeted him warmly, and handed him a bowl of food and a drink, but the actor protested, probably a bit uncomfortable to sit alone at the bar, and he started to leave with the food.

I gestured at the empty seat at my table and said in my fledgling French, “You're welcome to sit with me.” And he DID! We carried on a friendly conversation in French for a good 20 minutes. When he finished his meal, he kissed my hand and wished me a “Bon appetit.” What a charming man.

When he left, the very prim and proper French gentleman sitting next to me leaned over and said. “Nowh yewh cahn tehl yoh frehnz, yewh ahte lonzh weez Gerard Depardieu.”
A meal at Josephine Chez Dumonet, life-changing. Sharing it with Gerard Depardieu, and discussing it in French, after all these MANY months of intensive French lessons, priceless!

And I don’t know how to say this without sounding a little mushy, but if you really observe and savor every nuance of this restaurant, after two hours of all this wonderfulness, the world seems a little brighter, a little more beautiful. You get a feeling of what I like to call “God, love, and little baby ducks.”

You want to do something nice for someone. You want to transform them as you have been. You want to give them a little white crock of pumpkin soup and a big platter of morilles farcies at Josephine Chez Dumonet.

Joséphine Chez Dumonet, 117, rue du Cherche-Midi 75006 Paris, France Sixth arr.
Open Monday-Friday, Lunch: 12:30-2:30 p.m., Dinner: 7:30-11 p.m.
Valet parking at noon. Tel. 01 45 48 52 40 Fax 01 42 84 06 83

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mariacallas2 is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2010, 06:07 PM
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Will have to add this to my list of possible big food nights during my stay. Thanks.
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Old Nov 14th, 2010, 06:30 PM
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 03:25 AM
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We had dinner at JCD last month and hubby is still dreaming about the huge slab of foie gras we had as an appetizer! My chateaubriand was perfectly rare and tender and Den's cassoulet could have fed 3 people. We shared the Grand Marnier souffle and felt like we had died and gone to heaven. We will have to go back for those morilles!

What a wonderful post, thanks for sharing your evening with us.

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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 04:08 AM
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Not a foodie, but loved your report. Especially loved the mention of Babette's Feast. After travel, Netflix, foreign movies are my favorite. Babette's Feast was unforgetable.
My sister is a foodie, and I'm forwarding this to her. Thanks again.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 04:16 AM
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I totally agree with every word of this posting, the ambiance, the food, the wine and naturellement the Grand Marnier Souffle...Delicious
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 04:29 AM
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I swear I ate in a restaurant of this name maybe 20 years ago -- it was in the rue du Cherche-midi. It was not expensive, in fact quite reasonable.

Lovely dinner. I had no idea we were eating in a temple of gastronomy, however.

Great report.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 06:18 AM
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Thank you, mariecallas, for a beautiful start to an otherwise gray and bleary Monday here in NYC. God, love and little baby ducks - exactly!

Without any plans to visit Paris in the near future and at an hour far from dinnertime, your post nonetheless has put a "Texas sized grin" on my face.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 09:21 AM
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Your post was delicious. I am reading that they are only open Monday -Friday? No weekends?
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 09:43 AM
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Yes, it is not open on weekends. So happy you enjoyed it.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 11:37 AM
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My wife and I will be in Paris from Dec 17-29th. We will definitely go to Josephine Chez Dumonet. If I get up enough never, I will post a trip report and let all of you know how we enjoyed it.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 11:43 AM
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I am absolutely salivating at your report, and had to read it twice. This restaurant goes on my list!
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 01:22 PM
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sounds simply magnifique!
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Old Nov 20th, 2010, 08:04 AM
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Thanks for pointing me to this. What a wonderful report. We love the place. Your report does it justice.
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