How many times do you hear the phrase "oh, it's this quaint little spot in the West Village.." and yet, no one ever tells you the name because they want to try to sound cool? Well good news. I KNOW I'm not cool, so I will share with you my dinner at Paris Commune, a (you guessed it) quaint little spot in the West Village.
On the inside, the vintage French art (lots of red lipstick and cigarette paintings) screams Parisian-chic, but fortunately the ambiance is not nearly as snooty. Marisa and I sat at a nice table with a good view of the space, and on my way to the bathroom I discovered they have a wine bar called Rouge Wine Bar downstairs that can be rented out for private parties for up to 50 people. It was a little dark and very "rouge", but still overall a cute place.
I had heard a few things about Paris Commune, but the one thing that stuck out in my head was their special Ostrich dinner that they served recently. I wasn't sure if I could do an entire dinner of ostrich, but I was certainly willing to try something made with it. Enter ostrich meatballs! It was a special that night, and I really liked it! I was worried it was going to be chewy or gamey, but it wasn't at all. They were cooked medium-rare and had a light beef/turkey flavor. Hard to explain, but they were not as flavorful as beef, yet not as bland as turkey and it's one of the leanest meats out there supposedly. Who knew? I would absolutely have it again. Whenever I mention it to someone they cringe because they picture an ostrich…and let's face it, those mofos are UGLY. I get it, but it's what's on the inside that counts people. That holds true for people and poultry.
On to more familiar French fare perhaps? How about some walnut crusted brie with orange marmalade? Mmmm drool. God bless the French and their love of creamy cheeses. That said, brie is probably my least favorite cheese when it's plain (shocked??), but when it's crusted in something like this (see below) or wrapped in phyllo, it becomes magic. This one was really good too – crisp and nutty with gooey brie – needless to say we devoured that one pretty quickly.
I forgot to point out that I really like the menu here. I feel like it's rare in a French restaurant to find so many things that will please so many different people, and considering I have so many different "food personalities", I was literally conflicted with what to order because I could have had so many things. Normally one dish jumps out at me, but here, at least three things were jumping out at me. I finally landed on the duck confit (kept it traditional) while Marisa couldn't stop talking about this risotto, so we got the risotto special with parmesan cheese, mushrooms and truffles. I love truffles and this risotto was an excellent representation of them; creamy, cheesy and earthy. Love.
this pic doesn't do it justice.
The duck on the other hand was good, but nothing I haven't had before. It had a good crisp skin, but I felt that it was cooked a little unevenly; some parts were a little dry while other parts were perfectly sweet and tender. We also tried the scallops with celery root puree and..get this..mushroom caviar. Want to know what that tastes like? Nothing, really. I think it's just fun with molecular gastronomy and sounds impressive. Personally, the celery root puree was the best part, the scallops themselves were a little gritty, which tells me they should have been cleaned a little better.
See the mushroom caviar? Cool, but not much in terms of flavor.
Fortunately, Paris Commune has it's amazing pot du chocolat to make up for any scallop slipups. How do I describe pot du chocolat?? Sexy chocolate-ness in a ramekin. It's like a pudding/mousse consistency, and can often be overcooked and screwed up. This one was perfect. We also had the spiced pumpkin fritters with chocolate cookie-spread (the only way I can describe it) and orange jam. The fritters are served hot and fluffy (and BIG), with this chocolate shmear on the plate that looks like a melted down oreo cookie that solidified to the plate. As you can probably imagine, I liked the chocolate cookie-shmear better than the fritters. Would love to know what that actually was..
Fritters – can you see the chocolate-shmear??
99 Bank St (nr 8th ave)