Auberge is French for "inn", traditionally a homely little place where you could get a room for a night and a home cooked meal. There are precious few auberges left anywhere in France, let alone Paris, so the name now implies "restaurant with cozy food". Such as the Auberge d'Chez Eux, a lovely casual little place near the Eiffel Tower in the 7th.

The southwest cooking is strongly on the "hearty" side, not sophisticated. But it's delicious and honest, paricularly the homemade charcuterie and desserts. Our dinner last night included an assortment of homemade salads, a fantastic salade gourmande with cured duck breast and foie gras, an impressively rich stew of deer, and a whole pheasant cooked with morels and girolles.

The hazard of this place is they love serving way too much food. My first time there I ordered the charcuterie sampling, which ended up being 12 kinds of dry sausage, 6 kinds of hot sausage, and a little fresh boudin noir to finish it off. That was the appetizer; my main course of two duck legs was to come. This kind of excess is atypical for France, and frankly a bit unwelcome, but it's done out of a generosity and joy of serving customers good food to make them happy. So you go with it, and just eat what you want, and it works out.

The wine list is surprisingly good; we had a lovely 1995 Madiran. And my friend Richard was crazy enough to finish his meal off with a glass of flaming prune eau-de-vie, a remarkably theatric presentation that ended up nearly burning his lips off. Everyone laughed, we ate a bit more dessert, and enjoyed the pleasure of a friendly auberge. It's no wonder Chirac took Putin here for dinner.

  2006-11-14 15:20 Z