In this series, Seamless Warrior John Luong reviews meals ordered from the Internet.
This Sunday, in what has become an annual tradition, I trekked to the Bastille Day on Smith Street affair hosted by Bar Tabac. Because my expectations were sufficiently grounded, I found it compelling to walk along a crowded sidewalk in Brooklyn on a sweltering day to watch brosters* play pétanque and to spot an occasional Thierry Henry FFF** replica jersey. But, beaten down by the sun and choked by the humidity, I found myself lacking the willpower to peruse the grazing options. My determination to have a French-themed dining experience on Bastille Day was not to be denied, however, for delivery is always an option.
There is an inherent albeit inconspicuous irony to the previous statement. As an individual whose lifestyle revolves around delivery, it didn’t take me many visits to Paris to conclude that the French don’t indulge in the delivery culture. Sure, it is possible to have the Asian staples delivered (Indian, Japanese, Thai), but a French meal? Unlikely. Further compounding the situation is the French belief in the day of rest; there has long been a tradition that most establishments close on Sunday unless one’s line of business caters to tourists. My friend, a Portland-bred American working in Paris, confirmed, too, that on Bastille Day, closures are even more the norm. This led me to a surprising realization: New York is one of the few places where someone can get an authentic French meal delivered on Bastille Day. As if I needed another reason to stay in.
Upon returning from the fête, I began perusing my options and noticed that Parigot (slang for Parisian), an establishment that I’d passed by numerous times, offered delivery. Being the indulgent sort, I ordered the namesake entrée–the Cassoulet Parigot***–as well as the the Country Pâté.
Twenty-eight minutes later, my buzzer rang, and as I opened the door, I noticed something was amiss: The delivery person was a middle-aged French-accented gentleman wearing a chef’s uniform. Upon prying, I learned that the gentleman making the delivery was none other than the chef-proprietor Michel Pombet, a 13-year veteran of the venerable Upper East Side mainstay Demarchelier. He explained that Bastille Day is one of Parigot’s busiest days of the year and that no one else was available to make a delivery. For the first time in recent memory, I experienced consumer guilt.
Thankfully, that sensation passed quickly and was replaced by the more familiar feeling of hunger and the desire to eat food that tastes better when hot. Given that pâté is served at room temperature, I went directly for the cassoulet. Served with a small portion of a sourdough baguette, the cassoulet featured chunks of pork, duck, and lamb, all tender enough that they broke apart when presented with a small amount of pressure; the lamb was only slightly gamey. Accompanied by a slice of a pâté as well as a half-link of loosely packed Toulouse sausage, the mixture was served on a bed of white beans and topped with a fine dusting of breadcrumbs. The white beans were an ideal medium for the proteins, offering just the slightest amount of flavor to each bite while practically melting on the tongue. It took more than a modicum of restraint to stop myself from polishing off the entire thing.
I moved onto the pâté, which was served with a spring salad mix, cherry tomatoes, pitted olives, cornichons, and two slices of toast. The pâté offered a confounding combination: While featuring a rich, full flavor, it was also very sweet. Every morsel, glistening with lipids, fell gracefully away as I savored each increment with serendipitous pleasure.
The Morning After: The overnight stay in the refrigerator caused the the beans and the remaining proteins of the cassoulet to congeal. The beans required chewing, an inconvenience foreign to the experience the previous night. The pâté retained its rich flavor, but the sweetness had gone. Additionally, it no longer disintegrated but instead required a small amount of prodding to dissemble.
Repeatability: While the $2.50 delivery charge is mildly forbidding, sometimes you want to have a delicious, well-conceived French meal, even if you’re not particularly interested in putting on your pantalons.
Establishment: Parigot, 155 Grand Street, 212-274-8859
Hours/Limitations: $18 delivery minimum plus $2.50 delivery fee
Delivery Estimate: 30-45 minutes
Delivery Time: 27:57 minutes
Distance: 0.4 miles; 3 minutes
Ordered at 8:10 p.m., partly sunny.
*”Broster”: combination of a bro and a hipster.
**Fédération Française de Football (French Football Federation): the governing body of soccer in France, the equivalent of the United States Soccer Federation (aka US Soccer).
***Featuring duck, pork, and lamb with garlic and Toulouse sausage.
****Time is measured from confirmation page to door buzzer.
*****Distance and time estimate is based on biking via Google Maps.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 16, 2013