When my feet and back are sore from sightseeing, it's a dream of mine that I am carted around in a pram like a child but unlike a child, I get a say into where I go. I am serious about this, if anyone is willing to do this for me, please call me. So after a morning pounding Paris's cobblestoned streets in thin soled ballet flats, I come across a restaurant that peaked my interest. Ribouldingue, an Offal only restaurant. Offal only? Yes. It's part of my "only in this country" theme that has me seeking food that I can only get in Paris and not at home. Although if you know me, you'll say "But you hate offal" I convinced myself that I loved the Duck Liver at Drouant so other types of offal are also welcome on my palate.
It's charming inside with lots of gorgeous fresh flowers, cream doors and large mirrors. The waitress is efficient and working alone. It's empty when we walk in but it fills a bit more. At 27 for 3 courses at both lunch and dinner, many may feel that they would want to visit at dinner time while seeking lunch deals that give more savings.
The menu is in French and our waitress does her best to explain what the items are. I can understand the dessert menu but offal, well, I can't say that I recognise any of those words aside from "tripe" and "veau". We choose adventurous things, ones that I wouldn't normally order but I figure if anyone can make these cuts delicious, Ribouldingue can.
Amuse Bouche: Pork Skin terrine
The Amuse Bouche, a pork skin terrine sliced thinly with a side of dressed leaves is interesting, the pork skin gelatinous and soft. It's not chewy like some pork skin can be as it's boiled rather than roasted.
Sabodet (commes a Lyon), lentilles vertes tiedes en vinaigrette (pig's head and skin sausage with lentils)
Our first course, the pork sausage (pig's head and skin specifically) and lentils is delicious, the sausage are three wide discs on top of some soupy perfectly cooked lentils.
Ravioli des champignons, couers de canard Poetes, pequillos (Mushroom ravioli with duck hearts and capsicum)
The mushroom ravioli with duck hearts and capsicum almost stops my heart but I talk myself into it "Don't be gutless, be adventurous" (no pun intended). My husband loves this dish and his reaction spurs me on. It's softer than the heart at the Yurakucho Yakitori Alley but still not quite to my taste. I do try some and it needs the ravioli and strongly flavoured sweet capsicum to help mask it or complete it whichever way you'd like to look at it.
Rognon de veau roti (roasted veal kidney)
_Gratin dauphinoise (potatoes with breadcrumbs and cheese)
Thew Veal Kidney with Potato Dauphinoise is certainly an arresting sight. I was expecting something more ...conventionally kidney shaped. I take a small bite and it's that unmistakable kidney taste (yes I realise how stupid that sounds but I was wondering if they would do something to it to reduce the offal flavour) and small bites of this with the Potato Dauphinoise is actually quite good although if I am to be honest, I much prefer the potatoes to the kidney.
Tripes au vin blanc
The tripe soup is getting appreciative murmurs from my husband. I ask him how it is, never intending to try any as I dislike tripe and he says "The soup is great" and I ask him how the tripe is and he repeats "The soup is great". I try a little tripe with some potato and soup and it's not bad although the strong smell is too much for me and I pass the plate back.
YAY no offal on the dessert menu!
Cremeux de citron jaune, macarpone, crumble
Our desserts which I gratefully see do not feature offal arrive, the lemon curd and cream layered dessert topped with toasted flaked almonds sprinkled with icing sugar. The lemon curd is just on the right side of tangy and my husband usually fearful of lemon curd readily eats his share.
Blancmange au lait d'amande, salad de framboise et son coulis
The almond blancmange with minted berries is good, the blancmange quivering and mildly flavoured against the ultra thin slivers of mint and fresh berry. It reminds me a bit of Chinese almond jelly.
The puffy icing sugar dusted homemade marshmallows and glossy dark chocolate coated almonds are delicious. Although it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, I'm sure to offal lovers, it is Nirvana.
And because this was our last meal in Paris, allow me to offer some tips on Paris.
- Purchase a carnet of Metro tickets (10 tickets), it's the easiest way to get around Paris. Sure it smells a bit and is crowded but trains run very frequently and it is very easy to master. The distance between stops is very small too and sometimes walkable.
- Walk everywhere, it will really, truly help counteract the effects of copious pastry and cake consumption
- When you walk into a boutique or store (not a department store) say "Bonjour" or "Bonsoir" and when you leave say "Merci, Au Revoir". Unlike Australia where you may be met with silence, they'll always respond.
- You may get the occasional snooty waiter but on the whole the service is good, often friendly and charming (I think we were just lucky). I actually found service in high end/gourmet food stores a bit stiffer and snootier than high end restaurants.
- Department stores are closed on Sundays. Yes, believe it.
- The Dali museum in Montmatre is well worth a visit, and you can buy sculptures and Lithographs there.
- Take advantage of lunch specials and the Plat du Jour. Even Michelin starred restaurants will often have a very well priced lunch deal.
10, rue Saint Julien Le Pauvre, 75005 Paris.
Tel.: 01 46 33 98 80.
Métro: Cité, Maubert Mutualité or Saint Michel.
Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner.
Fixed-price menu: 27 for lunch and dinner
Cash, Visa and Mastercard only (no American Express)