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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

L'Avant Comptoir Stand Up Restaurant in Paris

L'Avant Comptoir
9 Carrefour de l'Odéon, 75006, Paris, France 

My first time at the French tapas spot, L'Avant Comptoir, was a few years ago after watching an episode of one of Anthony Bourdain's many travel shows that took place in Paris. I wasn't thrilled with the place because is was standing room only, crowded, and I ordered the wrong menu items. I thought the savory macaron would be a good idea but when it arrived I found out it was blood sausage and let's face it, my palate is just not there yet.

Well, this time around I was traveling solo and walked by L'Avant Comptoir before the after work crowds arrived. I went it and claimed my spot at the far end of the bar against the wall so I could lean and watch all the action as I stand in my corner. The server was very accommodating, as he spoke English for me and asked what kind of wine I like (Strong? Sweet? Red or white? Strong red, yes.). He picked out a wine for me that was delicious, and I wondered if the taste reflects the price, however I found later that the wine was only €5. My kind of place. 

The laminated cards hanging from the ceiling were the menu items displayed by a photo, description in French, and price. I saw the savory macaron was with foie gras with citron and I ordered it. It arrived as a double decker macaron, generously stuffed with foie gras. This was the highlight of my trip to Paris. I ordered a second serving (€5 each and worth every cent).

I then switched to a nice white wine and ordered the spicy prawns and a coffee crime brûlée for dessert. I have to say, I will continue to come to L'Avant Comptoir. This was an experience that went above and beyond my expectations. I stayed for about an hour and I forgot I was even standing the whole time (or leaning). This is a great spot for solo travelers like myself or for couples looking to try multiple dishes and wines without shelling out a crazy amount of cash. If this place existed in NYC prices would be through the roof!!!!! Santé, L'Avant Comotoir!!! Merci!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jackie Dreams of Sushi

I've come a long way since my gag-worthy experience eating a generous portion of raw squid in one bite at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market sushi shop, Sushi Dai. It was just three years ago but I've grown an appreciation for sushi and now I'm eating the food that began as Japanese street food several times a week! My recent trip to Tokyo quickly became a sushi tour. We ate sushi at all price ranges and styles including omakase, stand-up, conveyor belt, etc. 
We took the train from Shinjuku to Tsukiji before the sun came up one morning. We dodged motorized carts that came at us from every angle as we made our way through the fish market. I can't believe tourists are even allowed in there. It's fast paced and dangerous in an exciting way. We ate at Sushi Bun after much research prior to this trip. It was similar to the high quality of Sushi Dai and Daiwa without the three hour long wait. We got in at 7am after waiting just 15 minutes. No photos were allowed but I snuck a few shots of the perfect omakase they made us. The quality was the best I've ever had and the eel was especially outstanding! It was sweet and soft, almost like mousse. It's their specialty. The cost of this omakase was approximately $35 each.
Shibuya has some kooky shops and restaurants. We wound up eating at two different sushi joints. We went to a conveyor belt sushi spot called Genki. We ordered off an iPad and plates zipped around to the table. We had 19 plates of sushi and we spent less than $30. The quality wasn't on par with the Tsukiji omakase but it was still pretty good. The next Shibuya sushi spot was Uogashi Nihon-Ichi for a stand up meal. The sushi bar was set up without a single chair. It's meant to be a quick meal spot. The quality of fish here was pretty high but you wouldn't think so from the price. A 10-piece omakase set was only $15. We ate and ran. 
The day we left Tokyo we woke up early craving sushi. We found a 24-hour spot in a Shinjuku called Kizuna. The toro was great, so was everything else. It was reasonably priced and perfect for the jet-lagged traveler with 24-hour cravings. 
Sushi is my favorite food these days, and I partially blame the documentary 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' for this. Although we didn't get to visit Jiro's restaurant, his apprentice opened a sushi spot in New York City. Chef Nakazawa opened Sushi Nakazawa in the West Village and we had the chance to eat there last week. I'll post all about the incredible experience shortly!