Once in a while in Paris, one needs to escape the crowds and concrete and seek out an oasis. For Joanne and me, we found our refuge a half-dozen stops away on the Paris Metro #1 line – heading from the Chatelet Metro station toward the Arc de Triomphe, then two stops later reaching our destination: The LES SABLONS Metro station.
We’ve done this stop several times, most recently with our grandkids. And what a treat it is. You’re only a couple of blocks from the beautiful and spacious BOIS DE BOULOGNE GARDENS, home to the stunning, Frank Gehry-designed FONDATION LOUIS VUITTON museum. We always manage to have lunch at the museum restaurant…LE FRANK…. (Check out my February 16, 2017 post: “Blast from the past…Springtime in Paris”).
To top that off, just behind the museum is the JARDIN D’ACCLIMATATION (“Garden of Pleasure”) and its iconic amusement park, complete with a half-dozen outdoor cafes. It’s a great place to spend a Sunday in Paris.
So a few weeks ago when Joanne and I attended the graduation of our grandson, Charlie, in Boston, I was amused that our son, David, had booked dinner reservations at a rather new Cambridge restaurant called LES SABLONS, opened in 2017 in Harvard Square. And BTW, if any of you are dropping off kids for college in the Boston area, read on….read on!
Les Sablons is housed in the historic Conductor’s Building, circa 1912, once a subway facility and respite for the train conductors who worked greater Boston’s earliest subway system.
While our favorite Boston restaurants have always included an eclectic mix…..everything from GRILL 23 to CRAIGIE ON MAIN, TEATRO, FIGS and EAST COAST GRILL, I have to say that Les Sablons is our new favorite. No wonder: At the helm is chef Jeremy Sewell, a James Beard winner as well as a Culinary Institute alum who honed his skills in London under the famous Roux Brothers (think LE GAVROCHE).
The restaurant occupies two floors. The more casual first floor is the Oyster Bar, while the smart second floor is ever so slightly formal – BUT without the fuss! In fact, there’s a lot of quirky wit and whimsy going on.
And of course (me being a sucker for celebrities), I noted that Jacques Pepin and Martha Stewart were patrons. Martha was smiling (so everything must have been perfect – and I mean PERFECT. Or else.).
Well, I have to say that our dinner was, indeed, faultless.
First off, in the event that two of you decide to go to Les Sablons, be sure to request corner table #61. Not only will you occupy the Catbird Seat, but you’ll be directly under the Play-Doh mural with a photo of cigarette-smoking DAVID BOWIE keeping an eye on you…
We started by sharing a dozen raw, fat oysters: four Aunt Dotties, four Fin de la Tables and four Little Guns – all $3.50 each. The Aunt Dotties and Little Guns both hail from the East Coast and are farm-raised. I’m told they’re the same oyster, but with different names. Could be – because they tasted the same. I can’t figure out where the “Fin de la Table” oysters are from. Maybe France? Maybe they’re just called “Fin de la Table” because they’re the last ones the restaurant’s able to sell.
I won’t bug you with a laundry list of our dishes. All – and I mean ALL – were exceptional. But here are a few that simply can’t be ignored. Check out the accompanying images.
Chicken Liver Terrine….with toasted brioche, cherry mustard and crème fraiche…$15
Mushroom Strudel …with black garlic sauce…$14
Porcini Mushroom Agnolotti …with corn fondue, watercress and summer truffles…$32
Veal Boudin Blanc…with mushrooms and Pommes Anna…$32
Roasted Monkfish with green curry broth, bok choy, toasted hazelnuts and littleneck clams…$32
Maine Scallops with white asparagus, lemon parsnip puree and white sturgeon caviar…$42
Rohan Duck Breast with roasted cherries, oyster mushrooms, charred spring onions, fava beans and mint…$39
Lemon Posset…a lemony sort of pudding with olive oil gelato, and toasted pistachios…$10
Chocolate Cremeux …espresso infused with toasted hazelnuts.
Pavlova with passion fruit and bruléed bananas.
So folks, not only is this place really smart and well-designed, but if you go, be sure to notice the lighting. And it has a 4.5 rating from ZAGAT!!
Now I can’t figure out the Play-Doh art, but it sure is fun and amusing. Nor do I understand the David Bowie thing, but it’s also fun, albeit a little strange…but in a good way.
But hovering above our table was a giant black-and-white image of a menacing – and not very happy – Grace Jones. She was a little scary glowering down at us (Really, W.T.F.?). Not certain why…but we made sure that we cleaned our plates.