This is our second time at Auberge Etchegorry with the first time being almost 7 years ago when Hubster and I took our first vacation through Europe together. The menu looks like it has changed ever so slightly but in essence the ingredients and flavor profiles which represent the south western part of France and more specifically, Basque country, remain the same.
For many restaurants, they will offer a set menu which gives you the option to choose from 2 or 3 dishes per course and have a 2 (appetizer & entree) or 3 (appetizer, entree and dessert) meal for a lot less than if you had ordered a la carte. It isn’t unusual that you’ll pay less if you order the set menu, but I’ve noticed that the difference from ordering a la carte makes the set menu a great bargain, as was the case here for lunch where you could get a 2 course lunch for 18 Euros (~$20 US dollars according to the current conversion rate.) Considering the quality of the food, this is what Hubster undoubtedly considers “good value”.
For my entrée, I ended up ordering the Tartare au Saumon et Thon (Salmon & Tuna Tartare) which was served with a dollop of crème fraîche and healthy serving of black caviar. Fish was good and tasted pretty solid overall. Nothing particularly different from previous tartare’s but I had been craving some seafood so this hit the spot.
For my main course, I ordered the confit de canard which was served on a buttery bed of pommes de terre à la sarladaise. Duck confit is prepared by first curing the duck meat and then frying it up till it’s brown and crispy resulting in duck meat that comes effortlessly off the bone. Sometimes, it can end up very dry but that was not the case here. It was a little bit oily but not terrible and it went so well with the potatoes which were seasoned well and more importantly cooked perfectly. The sarladaise potatoes are made with butter and garlic and then cooked in the duck fat. Yes, they are sinfully delicious with a soft (but not mashed) consistency and a slight crispness around the edges.
For his entrée, Hubster ordered the Foie Gras which looked like about 4 oz of cooked foie gras. It was delicious, but the problem with hot foie gras is even though I think it probably tastes better, the richness of it fills you up very fast that you can’t eat a lot of it. At a certain point maybe 4-5 bites in, you’ve had enough and any more will just make you feel gross. Quite often, hot foie gras is served with a fruity jam which seems odd to the untrained tongue, but the flavor combination is pure perfection. The sweetness helps cut the richness while simultaneously complementing it. Best part about this dish was the value. I think it costs less then $20.
Next up for Hubster was the stuffed squid and calamari in squid ink. It wasn’t as good as the squid dish we ordered the first time we ate here. The squid was tender and well-cooked, but the filling was a confusing melange of flavors. I couldn’t quite place the ingredients, but the graininess of the mixture unsettled my taste buds even more. Unfortunately, a little bit of a miss in comparison to the rest of the meal, but considering how much I enjoyed the squid the first time, I won’t hold this against them.
What I like most about this restaurant is it has a very locals feel. Given its “off the main street” location in a seemingly more residential part of the 13th arrondissement, I don’t imagine it gets a lot of tourist foot traffic unless you’re staying at the tiny hotel located next door. So chances are you’re probably only in the area if you’re going to eat here. I did a quick perusal of the reviews on Tripadvisor and others seem to agree with me. Overall, I feel Auberge Etchegorry is a real hidden gem with delicious food and a charm that makes you feel like you’re truly immersed in a France.
43 Rue Croulebarbe
PAFO Ratings for L’Auberge Etchegorry:
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars