Le Bristroquet: Hard to stomach

Posted on Thursday, 14th August 2008

The bistro: Le Bistroquet

The bistro: Le Bistroquet

As mentioned in my Crêpes in Troyes post, we had come to Troyes to same the andouillette. Le Bistroquet was the restaurant where we came to sample the andouillette here in Troyes. It was a gorgeous, classic-looking French bistro with warm beige tones, rich brown wooden panelling, soft muted lighting and touches of art deco throughout. Was I ever excited! Such surroundings to me always promise more to come – and come they did. Our waitress was a petite little thing; full of feistiness but with a charming, mischievous grin. She took our order, and on quiet reflection, she hesitated ever so slightly when we came to order the andouilette, but such is the beauty of hindsight.

A starter of scallops grilled in butter proved to be lovely; plump and meaty, it was served with a light and crisp side salad dressed wonderfully in extra virgin olive oil. The froid (cold) foie gras had a lovely creamy, rich, melt-in-your-mouth texture, but unfortunately was a little too salty. Despite this, I was pleased with what had been presented so far. With no reason to suspect any surprises, my expectations remained high.

After our starter plates were cleared, we engaged in some idle chit chat as we waited for our pièce de résistance. “So is it meatballs?” I asked my friend. “What kind of meatballs?” “Not sure” he said, “the website just said meatballs”. Would it be like the last time I’d meatballs, I wondered? This was at The Little Owl Restaurant in New York City. Made from a mix of beef, pork and veal and served with homemade tomato sauce and crusty country bread, they were juicy, succulent and utterly divine – one of those hearty, winter warmer type of dishes.

Finally, the time arrived. Our meals were placed before us. For my friend, a full size portion of andouillette. For me, a miniature portion of andouillette with sides of pig’s trotter, pig’s cheek and blood sausage.

Andouillette

Andouillette

My first reaction as I stared at the andouilette was that it was certainly NOT a meatball. It was in fact shaped like a sausage. Alright then. My second reaction as I cut into the andouillette was the fact that the filling consisted of pig’s stomach and intestines. Yes you read right, pig’s stomach and intestines. So… not exactly what I’d expected.

My third reaction as I raised a tremulous forkful to my mouth was: “Oh my stars, the stench!” Dear reader, I can only liken it to the smell of, well, wee. In the words of my friend: “a stale, pungent gents” and he should know, he’s a guy. As we all know, smell plays a great part in taste so needless to say, the taste was not pleasant. However I persevered. If this is a regional dish, it must be so for some reason. Maybe it might grow on me, I reasoned. By bite three however, (and they were little bites mind you) I’d to fight every urge to spit in the direction of my friend.

As for him, he was far manlier than me, managing more than half the fare. Perhaps he really did think it might grow on him. Poor chap, I think he regretted it when he later burped and the taste repeated on him. I tried to be helpful by offering gum, but I think it took two brushes of both his teeth and tongue to be rid of the taste.

When acceptance sank in, I had to admit feeling a little traumatised, for it wouldn’t be difficult to recall with a shudder what the andouillette tasted like. So dear reader, as Cassandra warned the Trojans about the coming of the Greeks in the Trojan horse and the ultimate downfall of Troy, you too have been warned! Mission accomplished though, as I can say with pride that I didn’t miss out on this particular culinary experience even if I must admit that I struggled to understand its attraction (and believe me, I tried). The only thing I could conclude was: only the French. Bless them. As for our waitress, she was totally sympathetic…

(Finally, here’s the link to the French website that described andouillette as meatballs, seventh line down in ‘Local Dishes’.)

Le Bistroquet at:
Place Langevin
10150, Troyes
France
Tel: +33 (0)3 25 73 02 67
Web: http://www.bistroquet-troyes.fr/

Also, The Little Owl at:
90 Bedford St (corner of Grove St)
New York, USA,
10014
Tel: +1 212 741 4695
http://www.thelittleowlnyc.com

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