€14 Lunch on Ile de la Cité

6a00d83451b0bd69e201310feed7d9970c-800wiThrough a certain ironic piston, the American connection, we heard about a bistrot on the Ile de la Cité, a block from Notre Dame, 26 rue Chanoinesse, the Au Bougnat, a name which  means a coal-seller turned café-owner from the Aveyron, in south central France.

Ironically, comparing then-and-now pictures of the Au Bougnat building in the 17th century and the way it looks today, one is struck by the fact that little has changed. What remains are the architectural facts: the building began as a late 18th century house whose hallways were paved with tombstones that no doubt came from the numerous churches that existed in the area.

6a00d83451b0bd69e201310feedbe1970c-800wiAnd here’s the joyful news about our lunch. The “formula” was 14 euros for entrée + plat or plat + dessert. I had entrée and plat – a poireau soup that needed just a tiny bit more butter and a delicious filet of whiting served over and woven into a creamy mushroom risotto, with a drizzle of lemon white sauce over all. To drink, I had a perfectly respectable glass of Brouilly and was quite happy.

Richard, who went for the 18 euro menu so we could try the dessert, wanted the soup but also wanted to try the stuffed brioche bread for an appetizer so he bowed to scientific investigation and, voila, chose very, very well. The muffin-like brioche was full of surprises (meat and walnuts and a dark red salé-sucré sauce) placed on a bed of lettuce with a dressing that seemed to have a bit of cumin in it.

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