The Eternal Le Stella

July 30th, 2013 § 1 comment

Le Stella is a brasserie/bistro on Avenue Victor Hugo in the very affluent, posh 16th Arondissement of Paris. Few tourists among the conservatively dressed, well mannered clientele — mainly residents of the neighborhood who are as conservative in politics as they are in dining habits. No Asian, Italian, Spanish or (heaven forbid) American influences have invaded the kitchen. The menu is pure Eternal France. As one food writer has put it: “The dishes are what Grandma would have cooked (if she was a very good cook) or what would be on the menu if you took Grandma out for Sunday dinner.” Like any proper brasserie, Stella has a vast bank of oysters, other bivalves and crustaceans outside the entry door, manned by guys with striped shirts, fisherman’s hats and shucking instruments (of course, a rugged Breton fisher-guy selling oysters is a clear signifier of the freshness of the seafood). HG/BSK have often launched their dinners there with some oysters and a bowl of bulots (sea snails) with freshly made mayonnaise. If HG wishes a light repast he moves on to pickled herring with potato salad. Then soupe de poisson (with some assertive rouille). Cheese course is rich St. Marcellin (accompanied by a glass of the very nice house Bordeaux). Finale is the sumptuous Ile Flottante. A glass of Vielle Prune (a strong digestif). At other times HG chooses steak tartare with pommes frites; tripes a la mode de caen; blanquette de veau; choucroute (a Wednesday special); tete de veau (admittedly a special taste); grilled pig’s foot. And, there are times when HG switches from an oyster starter to diving into sizzling escargots or the more delicate pleasures of smoked salmon with blini or a frisee salad. A happy choice is to share a carre d’agneau (rack of lamb) with BSK, a lady who is an adventurous eater but has not developed a passion for tripe or the interior and exterior of a calf’s head. Service, under the supervision of manager Christian, is friendly and professional. One warning: On a visit to Stella (without HG/BSK) intrepid SJ ordered the Andouilette, a house specialty. SJ thought this was a spicy, New Orleans-type pork sausage. Wrong. Stella’s Andouilette is a chitterling sausage, a sausage with rather intense barnyard odors and the distinct flavor of pig shit. Like fressing up tiny little song birds, this is one French food passion HG (and SJ) doesn’t share.

brasserie-le-stella

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§ One Response to The Eternal Le Stella

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