Au Petit Sud Ouest
It was only four or five years ago that the urge to eat duck asserted itself regularly into my eating habits. Perhaps that is when I started ordering duck in France and fell in love with Magret, the meaty pink duck breast that is core to the cooking of Southwestern France.
We found Au Petit Sud Ouest while walking back from the Eiffel Tower one evening when we saw the green awning. The warm exterior and obvious crowd waiting for tables drew us in. Once inside, the hostess Chantal, who along with her husband Christian have owned and run this restaurant since the 1990’s, greeted us. She is a bundle of energy and professionalism and while she could not get a table that evening we looked forward to coming back several nights later. It did not disappoint except on one minor level.
Once seated, the house sent us a plate of dry saucisson and on the recommendation of Christian, her husband, we settled in to the recommend house wine of the evening, a perfectly aged 2004 Bordeaux (it was a Medoc and yes Merlot can taste good) for a very very reasonable 19 euro that he obtains directly from the winery and passes on the deal he gets to his patrons. We wound up consuming several. A really fine touch that was most appreciated.
The atmosphere was loud and convivial, people were having lots of fun and the feeling was contagious. We had a very good time.
I ordered the Magret with chanterelles and cherry compote. Simply stated it was flawless. A large duck breast sliced diagonally, crisped brown on the outside yet still pink inside as it should be. Along side the duck was a substantial mound of thank goodness not overcooked chanterelles left alone and the vinegary sugary taste of the cherries. My vegetarian dinner mate made do with a salad and a specialty of the house, puffed potatoes. My non-vegetarian dinner mate enjoyed a warm large portion of foie gras over salad as well the Magret.
It was the potato ‘pillows’ that created the minor issue. Oh, they were delicious, cooked and then recooked, they were golden brown beauties, sort of an adult tater tot but really good. And during dinner when Chantal strolled by she asked if we would like some more the answer was easy. We did. What we didn’t know until the bill came is that the potatoes were 11 euro, about 15 dollars, a portion. One order might have been ok, but the second plate wasn’t necessary and we felt that we were just a bit up-sold. Yet in the end was our fault. And it wasn’t like we didn’t finish both plates.
Oh well, lesson learned, when a dish is offered to you in a restaurant your antenna should go up and the rest is up to you.
This should not take away from the quality of that duck breast. It alone is worth the walk across the Champ De Mars from the Yellow Flat. Less than 10 minutes away is a dish that I can still taste sitting here in Berkeley thousands of miles away.
46 Ave. De La Bourdonnais
01 45 55 59 59