Set in the oldest house in Paris (it “existed before Columbus arrived in America”), the Paris-based restaurant Auberge Nicolas Flamel dates back to 1407. Inside there are “magical” Beaubourg tables which transport you to an evening full of early 15th century “charm”, complete with candlelight as you enjoy an exquisite meal amidst exposed beams throughout. It is located on 51 rue de Montmorency.
Nicolas Flamel was a successful French scrivener and manuscript seller who developed a posthumous reputation as an alchemist due to his reputed work on the philosopher’s stone.
Nicolas and his wife Perenelle were French catholics. In 1410, he designed his own tombstone, which was carved with arcane alchemical signs and symbols. The tombstone is preserved at the Musée de Cluny in Paris.
The restaurant is named after him as it is a house of his still left in the city. There is an old inscription on the wall: “We, ploughmen and women living at the porch of this house, built in 1407, are requested to say every day an ‘Our Father and an ‘Ave Maria’ praying God that His grace forgive poor and dead sinners.”
The cuisine is traditional French cuisine and the ambiance is somewhat formal and traditional. Service was top notch as the waiter proceeded to bring me bottle after bottle so we could sample various dry French reds to assess which would go best with our meal selections. I’m a little too typical when it comes to reds…in Paris anyway. I always opt for the Bordeaux since I prefer my reds to be big and bold regardless of what I’m eating. If something calls for a Pinot, I’m much more likely to go with a richer, bolder and full bodied Chardonnay instead — right or wrong. I’m just not a Pinot gal.
We went with the following: foie gras cooked in a cloth, with dried apricot chutney and toasted bread, followed by smoked haddock cake served in an orange sauce. Then we dove into a tender farm chicken with sage and fondant potatoe mousse and a cod filet in a pistachio and vadouvan crust served with crispy vegetables.
THEN, I tried the 2002 St. Estephe – La Croix Bonis although he insisted I also sample the 2007 Cotes de Provence (Chateau de Porcieux) and the 2006 Cornas (Cave de Tain – Arenes Savuages) but they just weren’t ‘bold’ enough for me.
Also on the menu for sampling depending on how daring and hungry you are are other scrumptious appetizers like the smoked swordfish carpaccio served with ratatouille jelly and crispy baby shoots. Or, you can try the lightly baked red mullet with fondant potatoes (common in France) and a mustard Granny Smith emulsion.
For mains, there’s a seven hour simmered leg of lamb, a porterhouse steak with shiitake mushrooms, coriander and fried potato spaghetti, a blue lobster with carrots, black venere rice and lobster bisque emulsion, a veal medallion with celery puree, potato cakes with mango and gravy, seared scallops with coral cream, Jerusalem artichokes and romanesco cabbage and lastly, if you really want to go vegetarian, they have an a la carte simple vegetarian dish on its own for 18 euros. A 3 course special was on offer for only 31 euros which was a great deal especially since one of the appetizer choices included the foie gras for no additional cost. (see last photo in this series).
Desserts included a citrus fruit meringue tartlet with iced white cheese cream, simple red berries with black sesame cream served in a chocolate shell, the Nicolas Flamel chocolate gold bar with chocolate grenache, Breton sable and gingerbread ice cream (yum), a carrot crumble with candied orange and sugar, the Curacao souffle (sorbet flavored with blood orange — this one takes awhile so you have to order it in advance) and lastly, sorbet, ice cream or a Chef’s cheese plate with a bouquet of green salad. (the salad at the end is a French thing).
If traveling to Paris, check out some of the Paris hotels we’ve covered in the past as well as this section on WBTW and for food/wine in Paris. Photos by Renee Blodgett except for the small outside sign, taken from their site.