Mussels or Else

Steamed mussels in pernod, garlic. butter and parsley served with French bread, Bt945
Don’t you feel a little dreaded when the word ‘French cuisine’ is sprinkled into your thoughts about what to eat when you get hungry? Given its usual stuck-up reputation, French cuisine can always build an array of anxiety that can cause one, me happily included, to feel tired even before the arrival of the first course. First, you need to dress up a bit to look good when you eat in a French restaurant. Then, you may need to know a bit of French just to guess what it is in the menu. And there’s a whole game of table manners, dealing with knife after knife, spoon after spoon, fork after fork, through amuse-bouche and entrees all the way to the petit fours, along with the occasional prim and proper dabs of the napkin, to rescue yourself from feeling ill-fitted when enjoying the meal.

Things are a lot easier at D’Orsay – a small, airy, bright yet cozy French place tucked away on the third floor of Portico Mall on Langsuan street. The idea here is to present the other side of French cuisine, that it can be a very tasty yet friendly and fun meal you can always come over to fill up. You might dress up, or you might not. You might be ordering things fluently in French, or you might not. There are one fork and one knife on the table for you to deal with. And there’s also a wet napkin, signaling that your hands can even get messy dealing with tasty things here.

Cauliflower Au Gratin, Bt275

D’Orsay is known for their mussels, steamed in various sauces. Rule of thumb here is freshest possible food curated from the best sources, cooked simply and served heartily, homey French style. These mussels are imported alive from all over the world, depending on the season. For example, July is good for the famous French Bouchot mussels, but in mid April when we visited, the time was right for the Tasmanian plump breed.

“People thought steaming mussels is easy,” says Koumanotham Abhay, owner and chef at D’Orsay. “You watched a Youtube VDO and you thought, anyone can do it. But that’s not true. The mussels need to be extremely fresh (translated ‘living’) when you cook them and there are certainly some tricks you need to achieve to get the best of the juicy and plump shellfish.”

Mussels of D’Orsay are served in three choices of sauces – from my favorite persillade sauce (the classic pernod, garlic, butter, and parsley) and saffron and mustard to chorizo and tomato to cheese and white wine. They are served in cast iron pot with each mussel drenched in the delicious sauce. The shellfish is steamed to perfection, nicely juicy and sweet and so so very fresh. I would recommend having it with the French bread so you can mop the sauce up nicely along with the tender mussels.

Duck Leg Confit, Bt495

Steaks are also popular at D’Orsay. But that’s just not my favorite item on earth, so I ordered one of its side dishes of the creamiest and heartiest cauliflower au gratin. Served in a small cast iron pot, this is a great compliment to any dish you would order in your meal. Small yet rich and flavourful, you might want to share it with someone in order to move on to other plates.

We also had a classic duck leg confit. This is my favorite French dish. Usually, the duck leg, slow cooked in duck fat, should be so tender that meat easily slips off the bones, but the one we had that day was a little bit tough and chewy, but still quite tasty. I also love the accompaniments of mashed potatoes drowned in a pool of mustard sauce and the side rocket salad drizzled with duck jus.

Left: Green Bean salad with celery, pancetta and walnut, Bt295; Right: Frog legs in persillade sauce, Bt425

Then we had this refreshing green bean salad served with chunky pancetta (love them), creamy dressing and walnut. This is a hearty salad that is aromatic with the herbs infused in both the dressing and fresh in each bite. One lovely classic combination of the greens, fresh and blanched, together with the crunchiness and saltiness of pancetta and walnut’s richness.

We also enjoyed a plate of meaty frog legs, battered in cheese and bread crumbs, deep-fried to crisp up and beautifully served on mashed potato beds with dollops of persillade sauce nicely spiced up with toasted Thai karieng chilies, lending a perfect tasty combination.

Apple tart, Bt350

Then, there is the very delicious apple pie, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The pie, so pretty to look at, consists of a round puffy and crispy crust arranged on top with thinnest slices of tart green apple baked until brown and caramelized. You get the delicious combination of warm and crispy crust, tart apple, nutty butter and then the creamy, sweet and cold ice cream. Classic and fulfilling. A great meal from the beginning to the end.

Easy going ambiance at D’Orsay

D’Orsay, 3rd Floor, Portico Langsuan, is open daily (lunch and dinner hours). Call T: 02-650-4747, 081-375-0880.

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