Pottoka

As you enter Pottoka (“my wild little pony,” loosely translated from the Basque) , you are lead into a narrow car-sized space. The walls are light grey, the lighting is dim but not dark and the tables are tightly packed next to each other; holding up to 45 people. ‘Welcome back to Paris’ I told myself. Unusually not jet lagged from my trip from Brasil, I chose this restaurant as it just opened in the 7th arrondissement and it was Basque – you can’t go wrong there! Located in the former Petit Bosquet, the restaurant holds a rugby-chic theme.

The restaurant is run by Chef Sébastien Gravé, and David Bottreau, who fronts the house, with his small 2-person team. Both met working at Christian Constant’s excellent Les Fables de la Fontaine (which lies just across the street), and this is their first (meat-oriented) restaurant together. Arriving on a Tuesday night, the dining room was not full which was good since I didn’t feel too clustered. Unlike L’Ami Jean, the decor here was subtle and minimal with a few Basque words painted on one wall and a long banquette running the opposite side of the room.

I had read mixed reviews about the restaurant due to its ‘stiff prices’ and ungenerous portions but I was blown away not only at the value of the meal but also at the large portion sizes. I don’t understand what the complaint was about? The service too, was prompt, and friendly and despite me chatting away to friends for, I must admit, the longest time, poor waiter didn’t want to interrupt but he did so in such a nice way, I decided to finally look at the menu.

The menu gives you a few selection for entree, plat and dessert as well as ‘plats du jour’; that evening it consisted of Iberico ham with Cèpes mushrooms as well as Palombe (wild pigeon). Yay for the game season!

Le Cochon Ibérique, rugby man-sized portions of delicious ham, cornichons and peppers served on wooden boards

For entrées…

Velouté de potimarron, cannelloni de boeuf au foie gras (Pumpkin soup, cannelloni of beef and foie gras)

Cèpes mushrooms and Iberico ham

Tarte de boudin noir aux pommes, Salade d’endives (Blood sausage tart with apples, Endive salad)

For plats…

Cotes d’agneau à la plancha, piquillos au confit d’épaule, coco de Paimpol (Lamb chops cooked on the plancha, Stuff red peppers with Lamb shoulder confit and white beans)

Echine de porc gratinée avec ses pieds, bavietta au beurre persillé (Pork rib browned with pork’s feet)

My friend’s palombe (wood pigeon), a daily special, was not overcooked but soft and juicy and came with a side of well-made potato puree.

Tarte Sablée aux figues, creme Mascarpone à l’Earl Grey (Fig tart with Earl Grey tea mascarpone – light and sweet)

Riz au lait à l’orange et ses croustilles (Creamy rice pudding)

For dessert, hands down the Gateau Basque is a must order. 

I also found the recipe:

Gâteau Basque

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 oz (12 Tbs) butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup black cherry jam
  • 1/2 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs flour to prepare the mold
  • 1 yolk for decorating the cake

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Using 1/2 Tbs, butter a round 7″ pan. Coat the pan with flour.
  • In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and baking powder together. Add eggs and soft butter.
  • Split the dough into 2 parts, roll one out and place it in the pan, rising up the side of the pan by 1/2”.
  • Pour jam on top of dough.
  • Roll the second part of the dough on the table (after sprinkling some flour on the table) to form a round crust the same size as the pan.
  • Put on top of the jam and stick the edges with the bottom dough. It is important to keep the jam inside the crust.
  • Mix an egg yolk with a few drops of water. Paint on top of the crust.
  • Cook for 25 minutes – serve warm with cream or ice cream.

In my personal experience, the food and staff amazed me. Clearly there’s talent in the kitchen where the team works with excellent produce. Thank god, there’s a new Basque restaurant in town. Others watch out!

Hint: Come for lunch during the weekdays for an unbeatable prix fixe menu of 17 Euros for 2-courses and 22-Euros for 3 courses.

Pottoka

Address: 4 rue de l’Exposition, 75007
Metro: École Militaire (Ligne 8 ) or Pont de l’Alma (RER C)
Closed: Sunday 
Telephone: 01 45 51 88 38

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