Saturday, 17 March 2012

Kitchen Galerie Bliss

You've come to the wrong place.

No, not Kitchen Galerie Bis.  Kitchen Galerie Bis is the right place.  I've eaten there 3 times; once with a top concierge and food pundit, once with a sassy group of NYC girls for a hen night, and most recently with my Monsieur, who hates everything.  That's 3 times with difficult-to-please people, and 3 times that KGB came up trumps.

So, no, Kitchen Galerie Bis is not the wrong place.  This, however, is the wrong place if you're hoping to find beautiful photos of mouthwatering dishes or tomes about some tortured chef who took years to master his award-winning emulsion of foie gras, truffle and pickled turnip.

There are plenty of great gastronauts in cyberspace who can wow you with their calorie-laden posts.  So I'm not even going to try.  Instead, I'm merely going to tell you about a restaurant in Paris that I adore, as illustrated by a quick overview of the one thing that can spoil a perfectly good meal, the bill.

Here it is:
  1. Let's start at the top with the misleading name.  No blinis and kulebiak here.  KGB stands for Kitchen Galerie Bis.  Think of it as the cool kid brother of the Michelin-starred Ze Kitchen Galerie up the road.
  2. Stick the address and contact details into your Blackberry right now.  KGB's hidden on a quiet side street in the Left Bank, between Odeon and the Seine.  There are plenty of bars and clubs in the area, so KGB's a great place to start a night on the town (hence the choice for a hen night) even though the dress code is pretty casual and you might feel out of place in killer heals and Azzedine Alaia. Parking is a bitch.  When you call to book, ask for Jerome.  He's wicked, as is the rest of the staff.  It's a very friendly, relaxed place.  
  3. KGB's signature is their hors d'oeuvres-style starters.  You have the choice of a mix of 4, 5 or 6 hors d'oeuvres which change all the time.  Monsieur and I had 4 each: 1 was a meatball, 1 was something sashimi-ish, 1 was a parsnip and black sesame froth and the last was a seafood dumpling in a lemon grass broth.  All were outstanding.  Every mouthful of each little dish was a delight.  The meatball was exquisite.  I was bowled over by that meatball.
  4. Monsieur had a pasta dish called the Fiorentini.  No eggs and spinach involved despite the name.  There was lemongrass (a favourite ingredient at KGB) and perfectly cooked pasta.  Al dente and divine.  Monsieur loved it.
  5. My main was a well-seasoned plate of grilled squid and shrimp. No extras and not much to look at; just a decent portion of deliciously prepared seafood.
  6. Monsieur loves chocolate so the chocolate Madeleine floated his boat.  (Geddit?  Madeleines look like little boats.  I hope you didn't just wet yourself laughing so hard.)
  7. I was mistakenly served an almond pannacotta for dessert.  (The one service error of the night.)  I ate well over half of it before alerting the waiter - it was too good to send back.  The dessert I'd actually ordered was a chestnut cream with pale sesame mouse.  Who knew that sesame seeds were so versatile?  Who knew?
  8. I asked for a glass of well-rounded white and what I got was outstanding.  This generous glass had all the fruit and butter of a lighter Chardonnay but with a light finish that disappeared like water.  Extremely drinkable.  How I managed to stop at 1 is anyone's guess.
  9. Monsieur asked for a rich Italian red to go with his not-particularly-Italian pasta.  I knew that he was looking to find fault in something but he failed miserably here.  His wine was delish.
  10. Bottled water that wasn't a rip-off.
  11. Total bill (not including cash tip) for a meal for 2 that was superb, served by genuinely friendly staff in a room that's a bit light on atmosphere (no music, the lighting's a bit bright) but hums with the natural buzz of a with-it Parisian crowd.  Monsieur, who paid the bill, said that the price was appropriate for the quality of the meal.  In fact, the only thing that Monsieur could grumble about was that I'd been there twice without him.
Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Although everything is tasty, the hors d'oeuvres really steal the show.  So order more of these and skip dessert.
2. There's a little alcove at the back near the kitchen (and, er, restroom) which is great for groups up to 8.
3. If I can wear sequins to a Franco-Israeli business function, you can wear Alaia to KGB.  In fact, let's start a trend.
4. Here's a link to KGB's website.  And another to Ze Kitchen Galerie in case you were wondering.

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