Over the last few years Sous le Nez has repeatedly been recommended to me as a place of tasty eats, but the fact its location was a bit of a mystery meant it took quite some time for me to get round to paying this cozy little eatery a visit. It was during a trip to the nearby Restaurant Bar & Grill that I finally spotted this subterranean treat situated under Quebec House on Quebec street, right under my nose…ba-boom-ch! And from this point onwards I was looking for an excuse to finally pay it a visit.
I should probably admit that during the five whole days I spent in Paris last October most of my meals were sourced from the local Lidl or purchased from snack stands at a music festival. On this basis, it would be a bit of a stretch to claim I was any kind of French cuisine expert, that said, I was thoroughly aware of a purposeful French undercurrent when I eventually wandered down the steps into their bar area on a busy Thursday evening to celebrate bagging an exciting new job (whoop!)
The bar area was truly bustling with people enjoying after work drinks or dining from the bar menu and so I was a little disappointed when we were led through to a less ambient dining area where the tables were just a little too close together for my liking. The menu was French inspired with a few English twists, a little like the accent of our eager waiter, who slipped between a French and broad Leeds accent rather jarringly! We decided to dine from the Menu du Soir, which at £24.95 for three courses an half a bottle of wine is cracking value and one of the restaurant’s virtues previously extolled by my friends.
Pleasant and plentiful is my summary of the dining experience, with a generous amount of freshly baked bread and naughty but nice portions of lovely rich salted butter offered up during the short wait for our starters to arrive. I opted for the chicken liver parfait with piccalilli and toasted brioche. Which looked something like this (only not quite so grey – thanks iPhone!)
The parfait was velvety smooth, which contrasted well with the sharp piccalilli that could only have been improved by more crunchy cauliflower. The brioche was buttery, fluffy and soft, but curiously untoasted – which was a shame as I think it would have made for a better mix of textures. For the main course I plumped for pigeon, char-grilled chorizo, bubble and squeak and thyme and rosemary jus, which if you squint, vaguely looked like this:
As a sauce lover I was suitably pleased to find my plate laden with the saucy jus and the pigeon and chorizo did not disappoint this fan of salty meats. However, the hefty portion of bubble and squeak was found a little lacking as it could have benefited from a little longer in the pan to crisp up it’s skin, again for a better range of textures. The buttered seasonal vegetables (green beans, new potatoes and carrots) that were served as an accompaniment were also a little on the soggy side.
When it came to desert time I doubted (just for a second) my ability to work through three such generous courses, but the glazed lemon tart with orange sauce and chantilly cream looked too good to miss. Imagine this, but more colourful:
In the end I greedily consumed every last crumb as to waste such beautiful pastry would surely have been a crime and as the tart was anything but a slight slice, I did feel a little bit bloated for my troubles.
Overall, Sous le nez didn’t disappoint and I can see why it was repeatedly recommended as a venue for good value group meals. However, as a date venue it didn’t quite hit the mark for me – perhaps we were in too early to catch any romantic French vibes.