Thursday 19th May 2016.
Some years back, Gargantua and Pantagruel, up to mischief, stuffed a famous pocket stiletto in the earth. The Eiffel. How the ants trail up and down the handle these days. Yet not a Pickles amongst their number. The wedding anniversary pleasure-jaunt up the hoity-toity dining hotspot, The Jules Verne, wasn’t going anywhere. Technical reasons/ security reasons. Tall metal nightmare.
I exaggerate. The sightseeing cavalcade of the self-satisfied middle-classes can just roll on the hell out of Dixie for my chump. Gimme the streets, the broken man’s sprawling edifice. Spray paint Versailles with the pendulous balls of its legendary, giant forefathers; give the Mona Lisa a ‘tash. Make them come for that. And we would, if you told us to.
Everyone wants a box of chocolates and a long stem rose, according to Leonard Cohen. Well, sorry to say, there’s no romantic artefacts in evidence on this rain-fashed, tempestuous Thursday. It’s run-for-cover. Let me introduce you: ’New Jawad’, nestled unassumingly, backstreet-wise, Eiffel district.
That was a manful handshake, Sir. Did I detect faint disdain as my dirty, monoglot English besmirched the Parisienne chic? Balding, sixtyish: Daddy – patriarched the haunt with surprising tenderness. Remember that gentle touch on my shoulder as he lightly questioned the heat of my vindaloo?
With a degree of trepidation one can’t help admire a restaurant replete with linen tablecloths, napkins, sparkling glasses. A pretty picture of class and suavity. Waiting staff neat as ninepence. Like sinking into a warm bath of bubbles, Jeeves perched on the toilet seat. Okay, some of the service was confused and haphazard, who has a naan bread with their pickle tray? Yet, intentions positive and friendly, hard to fault.
Spatchcocked quail – now that you don’t often see on the starter menu. Here it is though: dry, flavourless, a bit of a downer. Onion bhaji: familiar Parisienne chipshop scraps, just can’t hold it together… Previously, let me say, the pickle tray was rather good. Only the three tiny bowls, and whilst less is more, there wasn’t enough. A bit of a farce ensued, including the belated arrival of a vast gravy boat of chilli lime pickle amidst the starters, but never mind that, each pickle dip verily danced on the old buds. Fresh mango slices soaking in their sweetly spiced juices… You really don’t need eight.
Alright, not a vinegary scintilla, but the potatoes showed. And who makes an authentic Goan vindaloo anymore anyway? Great lamb and tang-fantastic rhythms, sing with me: “We’re. Gonna. Score. One. More. Than. You!” The old butter chicken was a bit egg-yolk/Sunny-D drip in appearance, in truth. Skippy excused it with a sweep of her lavish naan mop.
Superior (for Paris) sex-split lavies. Pricy everything – though, in a charming gesture, complementary iced Camparis both fore and aft. Hot towels a stupid irrelevance it seems; half-dreaming them steaming beneath the lid of a curious silver bowl arriving with our coffees, only to discover Dapple’s lumps.
Drinks-wise, Parisiennes, they’ve got the handle on the lassi alright. Yet another masterpiece, in the spiced variety this time: unsweetened, zingy – a delicate cardomon/cumin thrill. And I don’t mind a cognac espresso either, all things considered. (We did’t go into double cream balancing acts.) Half pint Kingfisher 6 euros. 120 euros all in (16 tip).
Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles
Fred ‘Skippy’ Pickles