Wednesday, 30 November 2011

An evening in the arse of a chicken

Sticking to my stated aim of visiting the grottoes and hideouts of the natural wine folk, my second days dinner was at le cul d’un poule, the current home of a chef called Yannig Sabro.

Faintly mushroom inspired doodlings decorated the side wall, with meccano framed pictures on the other, it was a narrow little neighborhood place that nonetheless had a certain swagger.

The menu, when in French is full of puns and joke names for dishes, ‘Bette et Rave’, was far from stupid and didn’t contain any turnips. It was, as one might guess a play on beetroot, diced, sliced and bundled with its leaves, a slick of sweetened puree accenting the side of the plate with salted ricotta cheese providing welcome counterpoint.

I followed this with the cod, vegetable linguine and black rice. This was a good a piece of fish cooking as I’ve had in a while, the cod coming apart in generous flakes, pearlescent in their sheen. However, the whole dish was dressed in a slightly sweet soy sauce based dressing that had the unfortunate effect of reminding me of cheap sweet and sour Chinese takeaway dishes. Not that it wasn’t nice, but it came across as terribly wrong. A la recherché du plats j’essaye a perdu…

A glass of JP Thevenet Morgon 09 with the starters had verve, a lovely acidic dark berry crunch and plenty of character. However the surprise of the meal was the Chilean white I was recommended to go with the fish. I’d discounted it when I ‘d seen it earlier as an aberration. Tiny wine list, all French and natural, surely there was nothing Chilean that could fit with it. Well yes Le Clos Ouverte, Verano Chardonnay 2010 from the Maule Valley, made by tree French men, organic and made naturally with zero Sulphur, it had a certain salty tang to the nose, almost as if someone had marinated ripe peaches in vin jaune. The palette was rich with salt caramel, peach and a lick of autolytic creaminess. The obvious comment here being that I was rather presumptuous to assume I knew all the interesting wines coming from Chile, but this was still a bit of a surprise, and a welcome one at that. My only slight gripe would be that the alcohol level in the wine meant that it finished a little hot and was consequently a bit short on the palette.


Tapioca in a Carambar fondue with a little bit of whisky topped with whipped cream. Fuck. Yes. This was as good as it sounds, the sort of thing that had I been served it as a child might have gone some way to convincing me that tapioca wasn’t the devils dessert.

Earlier, when I was ordering the waitress made a passing mention that the fish dishes were slightly smaller than the meat one. As I was leaving the table next to me received their starters, I should have taken a photo of paving slab sized steaks, and more impressively the leg of turkey, arriving bone in and whole like a caveman sized version of a chicken drumstick. It dominated the plate calling forth school boy historical images of obese kings feasting with the blood of their enemies still wet on the floor. Sorry I digress, but it was a very impressive piece of meat.

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