L’Affriolé, in a restaurant-lined side street near the Eiffel Tower, has been around for more than a dozen years, but chef Thierry Vérola’s cooking is just as inventive, imaginative and appealing as ever. The word affrioler can mean to tempt, entice, seduce or inspire, and all those words apply to the food at this bright, modern spot whose relaxed, friendly atmosphere makes it a good choice even for solo diners. The fixed-price menu offers five or six choices each for starters, main courses and desserts; at lunch you can opt for two or three courses; dinner includes all three.
A recent lunch started out well even before the first dish arrived: on the table was a dish of tiny, rosy radishes with crunchy salt, an excellent, crusty épi (a spiky form of baguette), and a scrumptious black-olive butter spread. A starter of crème de chou-fleur au haddock was a velvety soup with slivers of smoky fish and crunchy bites of cauliflower. The travers de porc arrived in a cute little casserole: tender, meaty little spareribs in a rich, reduced wine sauce, accompanied by a bright butternut mousseline. (Vérola’s dishes are all presented with flair—the golden mousseline was speared with a slender, dark green bay leaf.) Bar a la plancha layered two fillets of sea bass with caramelized compotes of onion and endive. And the riz au lait, creamy rice pudding topped with a thick layer of salted butter caramel, was a perfect finish to a meal that was truly affriolant.
17 rue Malar, 7th. 01.44.18.31.33. Lunch menus €25 and €29, dinner menu €35. Wines starting at €19.
Prices are approximate, per person, without wine.
Originally published in the December 2012 issue of France Today