Le Comptoir du Relais
Add: 9 Carrefour de l’Odéon 75006 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 27 07 97
Hours: 12~3pm, 8pm~1am
Visited on: 2012-08
Le Comptoir du Relais simultaneously appeared on all the “must eat” lists I received from fellow foodies before coming to Paris, so when a friend suggested that we meet there for lunch, I readily agreed. This small bistro by chef Yves Camdeborde is at the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and very popular – apparently you have to make reservations weeks or even months in advance for the prix fixe dinner – but fortunately lunch is open for walk-ins, so we arrived early to snatch a table.
Tight seatings, literally elbow-to-elbow, is something I’ve quickly became accustomed to after moving to Paris.
A glass (or more) of wine with every meal – yet another habit that I’ve happily adapted.
Our first entrée was carpaccio de tête de veau, façon ravigote (€18), which translates to “carpaccio of calf’s head with ravigote sauce”. Now, “tête de veau” is something that many people might find revolting, as it is literally the face of a baby calf with the skin, hair, and fat removed. What we had at Le Comptoir was in carpaccio form, so no, I couldn’t actually see the shape of the face and ears (phew…), and yes, it was deliciously tender and flavorful, perfect with the slightly acidic ravigote sauce.
Enjoy it with a bit of mustard if you so wish.
Our other entrée was terrine de boudin noir Béarnais, pommes en salades (€10), which is “blood sausage terrine with apple salad”. Boudin noir is a type of sausage made by cooking blood with a filler like apples or onions until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. I personally quite enjoyed the velvety texture and concentrated flavor (bloody delicious, literally!), though I could also see why some people might be appalled by this French classic…
For the main course, we tried one of the plats du jour, caille Béarnaise de Chez Duplantier, choux verts, foie gras (€20), which is quail stuffed with foie gras, then wrapped with green cabbage. Yet another French classic done wonderfully.
I particularly loved our other main course, calamar farci de légumes provençaux, sauce a l’encre (€15), calamari stuffed with Provencal vegetables and orzo in ink sauce. The only thing to beware of is that your teeth and lips will be stained black by the ink sauce, so don’t order this if you are on a date ;)
For desserts, we opted for verrine de pruneaux glaces à l’Armagnac (€9), prunes with Armagnac ice-cream. Armagnac is a distinctive kind of brandy produced in the Armagnac region in southwest France, and while I’m usually not a huge fan of alcoholic desserts, this one was quite lovely. The portion is fairly big, so I’d recommend sharing this among two people.
Lunch at Le Comptoir was delightful. The bill for two came out to be €90 with half a bottle of wine – not exactly cheap, but worth it for the quality of food. Will have to visit this bistro many more times to try other enticing items on the extensive menu…