Thursday, December 10, 2015

Art and Food Pairing™: Chefs-d'Oeuvre d'Afrique and Café Dapper Loïc Dablé - Part 2

In Part 1 of this Art and Food Pairing™, I wrote about the extraordinary exhibition, Chefs-d'oeuvre d'Afrique, which is currently on display at the Musée Dapper.

This week, I'm sharing my review of the museum's restaurant, Café Dapper Loïc Dablé.

Café Dapper Löic Dablé is only open on Friday evening and weekends. On Saturday and Sunday, customers have a choice between lunch, dinner, or brunch menus.

Café Dapper dining room
© Discover Paris!

The menu from Saturday, November 21 consisted of the following:


Soupe de courge à la pèbè (Butternut squash soup with "false nutmeg" from Cameroon)

Risotto poulet fumé or Brandade de lieu noir, pousses d'épinard (Smoked chicken risotto or black pollock purée with spinach sprouts)

Pannacotta bissup (Hibiscus pannacotta)

(Lunch was a two-course meal consisting of entrée-plat (starter and main course) or plat-dessert (main course and dessert) for 29€. Note that entrée means "starter" in French.)


Salmon gravelax with pickled radishes

Scrambled eggs with cream

Persimmon and banana fruit salad

Pancakes (sic) Kinkeliba (an herb used for tea)

Hot beverage and fruit juice

Café Dapper Menu d'Art
© Discover Paris!

We noted that there were three waiters working the room, which we found to be unusual considering the small size of the café. We had the chance to interact with each of them during the course of our meal. All were friendly and accommodating.

Tom ordered a Guinness Foreign extra stout before deciding upon the menu he preferred. It was brewed in Cameroon and had an alcohol content of 7.5%, which is well above the ~4% of traditional Guinness brewed in Ireland. He described its flavor as being assertive and bitter, like strong, unsweetened coffee.

Guinness Foreign Stout
© Discover Paris!

I ordered a glass of a 2014 South African red wine called Douglas Green, which was a hearty, peppery, medium-bodied wine with animal notes that mellowed into flavors of ripe red fruits. I discovered that it was the perfect accompaniment for my meal.

Pinotage Douglas Green 2014
© Discover Paris!

Tom elected to try the brunch, while I chose the lunch menu. I decided to go for the entrée-plat option and looked forward to tasting the soup, followed by the chicken risotto. As we waited to be served, we enjoyed our respective beverages.

For the salmon dish, slices of two kinds of pickled radish provided agreeable flavor contrast to the chunks of succulent salmon that had been marinated in brine.

The smooth and buttery scrambled eggs had been perfectly prepared.

Slices of persimmon and banana constituted the fruit salad, which was served without a fruit-juice base. The banana tasted like banana – nothing special there – but the persimmon was sweet and flavorful.

Salmon gravelax with pickled radishes, banana-persimmon salad,
and creamy scrambled eggs
© Discover Paris!

The texture of the pancake (there was only a single, small one) was firm, not soft as anticipated. Served with caramelized sugar-syrup, it tasted quite good, but was quickly consumed and left Tom wishing that there had been a stack of at least three or four of them.

Pancake kinkeliba
© Discover Paris!

The hot chocolate lacked the rich chocolate flavor that Tom always looks for in this beverage, but he declared it to be adequate nonetheless. He found the sweet juice of passion fruit to be refreshing.

My butternut squash soup was thick and satisfying without being creamy. Garnished with a single leaf of flat parsley and flavored with pèbè, the "false nutmeg" from Cameroon, it reminded me of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Soupe de courge
© Discover Paris!

The chicken risotto dish was superb! It consisted of four slices of smoked chicken breast that rested upon a generous bed of herbed risotto seasoned with foam collected from milk in which hot peppers had been cooked. This gave a lovely spicy kick to the dish!

Risotto poulet fumé
© Discover Paris!

While we were both satisfied with our meals, there was definitely something amiss with the service.

Lunch/brunch crowd at Café Dapper
© Discover Paris!

Tom received all of his food at once, but he did not receive the hot chocolate that he ordered with the brunch. (It is normally served at the beginning of the meal.)

On the other hand, I received nothing for quite an extended period. And when I was finally served, my main dish was set before me instead of my entrée.

When I called attention to this mistake, the waiter apologized profusely and asked if I were angry. He sheepishly suggested that because the dish was hot, I might want to go ahead and eat it. He assured me that he would bring out the soup immediately thereafter. He brought Tom's hot chocolate, and later, the passion fruit juice.

The soup was served quickly after I finished the main course, but there was another delay when I requested salt and pepper and a second glass of wine. I began to laugh at the accumulation of these missteps, and when my wine was served, I found that there was more than the standard portion in my glass. This was either a mistake in my favor or a gesture of apology!

Finally, the waiter came over and asked if I had ordered dessert, forgetting that I had already received the two courses I had ordered. I, too, had forgotten that I was only entitled to two courses and said that I was ready to order. The waiter quickly recovered his memory and said with a smile that he would offer me the dessert at no charge as a means of apologizing for the prior gaffs.

The pannacotta bissap was a traditional preparation of sweet, semi-dense Italian cream with a thick hibiscus syrup layered on top. It was perfectly delectable!

Pannacotta bissap
© Discover Paris!

At the end of the meal, we asked to meet Chef Dablé. He greeted us warmly and firmly shook my hand. I explained that I planned to write this article about him and asked if he would mind taking a photo with me. The waiter then chimed in and said that he would take a photo of Chef Dablé, Tom, and me. Chef was in his street clothes and ready to leave, but he graciously went back into the kitchen to don his chef's attire. The waiter was very accommodating and took multiple shots so that we could choose among them.

From left to right:
Tom Reeves, Chef Loïc Dablé, Monique Y. Wells
© Discover Paris!

We thanked them both and prepared to leave.

As we walked toward the exit, another customer walked up to Chef Dablé and exclaimed how much he and his party had enjoyed their meal. They were deep in conversation when we left.

Chef Dablé discusses wine with a customer
© Discover Paris!

Though the service during this meal was uneven, the waiters were gracious and of good humor and the food was beyond reproach. I will happily return to Café Dapper to give it another try.

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