When I first moved to Paris in 2005, I frequented Le Clown Bar, a cozy restaurant next door to Le Cirque d’Hiver. Loaded with charm, the interior from the turn of the century had tile inserts with clown motifs, along with an excellent two-course menu for about 25 euros. As I became more familiar with restaurants closer to my apartment, Le Clown Bar fell by the wayside.
Having practically forgotten about Le Clown Bar all these years, I read they reopened with new management, a new chef, and revamped menu. Curious and a little nostalgic, I went back a few weeks ago.
Walking in, my memory was flooded with notable meals and my naiveté about Paris when I first arrived. It hadn’t changed much and I still loved the ceramic tiles with the clowns and the handsome bar, which thankfully were left in tact. The rest of the restaurant had been modernized, adding an airier and lighter feel to than before, along with opening the cramped space a little more.
My friend and I snagged a nice table overlooking the front window. Perusing the appealing menu, hard pressed to single out some our choices, we both decided to go for the double duck, a starter of house made foie gras and a mysterious dish I never heard of before, duck in a pastry crust.
The presentation of the foie gras covered with round disks of razor thin raw mushrooms serve on a light teal blue ceramic plate, was like a work of modern day sculpture or Japanese origami. I am not that fond of raw mushrooms, but the thin slices worked for me. The foie gras was so good on its own, it didn’t need bread to accompany it.
The mystery plat also had a dramatic presentation, a ball of shiny pastry stuffed with meat, with a bundle of spinach leaves in the middle surrounded by a pool of gravy. My friend and I spent a few moments admiring our dish before we dug in. However there was no place setting and we asked the waitress for flatware and she instructed us to open the draw under the table, where we found our knives, forks, and spoons. The pastry was rich and flaky and the duck tender and juicy, and the gravy gave it even more moisture. Too stuffed, we were sorry we had to forego dessert, since our other dishes were so satisfying.