For our last night of the girls’ weekend in Paris, we went to La Jacobine in the 6th for dinner.
Now, I had been wanting to eat here since July, when I happened to stumble upon this restaurant, read the menu in the window and started drooling! Back in July, it was my last evening in Paris and I had already eaten so I had been looking forward to getting back here ever since.
It was a cold drizzly evening, we had just been on a cruise along the Seine, so the warm cosy atmosphere was just what we were looking for. We were shown to what appeared to be the last available table and settled in to browse the menu. Since my friend Katrina was in France for the first time, she was determined to try the escargot as an entrée. Encouraged by her bravery, I decided to also try a traditional French dish I have seen in so many places but haven’t been game to order: salade de gésiers.
I was told by some lovely Parisians “don’t think about where it comes from, just enjoy it”. So with a deep breath, I jumped in!
Now that I have tried it, I feel able to actually research what it is! It seems that the gésiers, or gizzard, is a pocket of muscle which forms part of the oesophagus in birds, and contains pebbles the bird has swallowed in order to break down harder food before it reaches the stomach. It can be very muscular in birds that eat hard grains and therefore needs to be cooked slowly for a long time in order to be tender.
Well, ok that information is not so bad – I was actually fearing something from the other end of the bird’s digestive system, ha!
So how did it taste? Not bad at all actually. This information explains the flavour, which for me was very much like duck meat but stronger and richer, perhaps slightly fattier. Obviously the gésiers are cleaned before cooking as there was no trace of grit or pebbles in my salad. It certainly did not taste anything like the offal flavours I was fearing. I’m not sure if it is something I will eat very often, but I am glad I took the plunge.
As for Katrina’s escargot – she pronounced them to taste just like butter, garlic and herbs – no surprises there. She decided that with all the difficulty getting them out of their shells, she probably won’t bother again, but at least she has tried them once.
On to the main courses. Being a cold, wet evening out, I had trouble deciding between the duck tajine with dates and almonds or the lamb shanks with prunes and figs. Katrina went for the lamb while I chose the duck and we shared a nice bottle of pinot noir to accompany the meals. When the food arrived we were surprised to see that they looked like they were cooked in the same sauce – they were almost the same colour. But no, looks are deceiving as we tasted each other’s dishes and they were indeed quite different. Katrina said the lamb was delicious but found the sauce sweet, but thought that the sauce with my duck was sweeter. I am quite fond of sweet flavours combined with meats and I thought they were both absolutely delicious.
I am glad I got there in the end and I would definitely like to return another day if I have the opportunity. The food lived up to the flavours I had imagined, the service was friendly and the atmosphere perfectly cosy for a winter dinner. This one is definitely on my list of recommendations.
It’s a little tricky to find as it is located in a laneway that runs between Rue Saint-André des Arts and Boulevard Saint-Germain, one that is very easy to miss. The laneway is called Cours du Commerce Saint-André and, thanks to Google streetview, this archway is what you are looking for: