Wallet-Friendly French Fare
For anyone who’s craving an exciting experience of outstanding contemporary French cooking without a major wound to the wallet, L’Oiseau Rive Gauche is an excellent choice. Young chef Maxime Laurenson’s cooking dazzles with its subtle originality and technical precision, and service is absolutely charming, too. Located steps from the French National Assemblée in one of the chicest neighbourhoods in Paris, this calm dining room has a pleasantly clubby atmosphere at noon when many politicians dine here, and a more intimate ambiance in the evening, when it is popular with welldressed local couples. The short menu changes regularly to feature seasonal produce and the talented young chef’s latest creations, but a vegetarian tasting menu, are always offered alongside the regular prix-fixe menus and à la carte choices. Stopping by recently for dinner, we were delighted by an amuse bouche of roasted ear of baby corn, a succulent wink at autumn, and this theme continued with starters of cepe mushrooms with liquorice and hazelnuts and a plump oyster intriguingly brightened with quince extract. Main courses were outstanding, too, including cod with pistachios and verbena and roasted pigeon garnished with beets, black currants and geranium. Since the cheese tray here comes from Bernard Anthony in Alsace, one of the greatest cheese mongers in France, we tucked into a fine selection before desserts of jasmine cream with blackberries and hazelnuts and a superb composition of smoked chocolate flavoured with hay. – A.L.