L'Ambassade d'Auvergne is a restaurant that I have been visiting for over 30 years. It was included in the original Food Lover's Guide to Paris in 1984, and a recent meal there confirmed that it is still as good as ever. I was happy to find a whole host of new dishes on the menu since my last visit – all as homey, comforting and rewarding as I have come to expect from this welcoming family restaurant. Of course the traditional aligot (cheesy, garlicky potato purée typical of the region) is a long-standing staple of their menu, as is their near-on addictive chocolate mousse, both of which, in my opinion, should be considered some of France's greatest gifts to gastronomy. Not a bad way to brighten up a gray Parisian winter's day!
Returning to the folkoric, always dependable L’Ambassade d’Auvergne is like going to visit a favorite aunt and uncle. You are welcomed with open arms, enjoying a few sips of meaty Domaine Mont-Olivet Châteauneuf-du-Pape as you examine the totally regional menu based on the fierce tradition of the center of France, the Auvergne. Meat is king here, in the name of a delicious duo d’agneau, a warming winter pair of slow and long-cooked braised lamb shoulder and leg, rich, tender, rewarding. There are of course thick, seared slices of rich and fragrant foie gras, served with a welcome sprinkling of sea salt and a smear of intense red fruit jam. We sampled just about everything on the menu, including a favored giant pork sausage, served with a giant crock of cornichons; an excellent assortment of cured pork products (cochonailles), including a “best ever” serving of perfectly seasoned headcheese (fromage de tête), a moist and tender roast partridge (perdreaux) paired with an avalanche of seasoned, chopped and simmered cabbage; In abudance, forever, is the region’s piece de resistance, the thick and creamy aligot, a potato puree laced with the fresh curds used in making Cantal cheese, and garlic (and minced truffles, in season!), a dish no one can possibly turn away. Save room for the smooth and addictive chocolate mousse, served out of giant bowls, and you are forcefully urged to go for seconds, even thirds.
L’AMBASSADE D’AUVERGNE | 22 rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare | Paris 3 | Tel: +33 1 42 72 31 22 | Métro: Rambuteau or Etienne-Marcel | Open daily | 20€ lunch menu, à la carte 45€ at lunch and dinner | www.ambassade-auvergne.com