Saturday, July 29, 2006

Restaurant review: Le Mauritius

For my birthday, I didn't ask John for an expensive dinner as I might have in the past. Instead, I wanted an exotic dinner. I discovered Le Mauritius in a free 2004 restaurant guide put out by budget-conscious students looking for a good deal. The cuisine of this fourteenth-arrondissement restaurant is of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Being ethnically diverse, this island delivers foods influenced by the Indian, Muslim, Creole, Chinese, and French cultures.

John and I started off with a very interesting litchi cocktail for an aperitif (under four euros). For an appetizer, I had the plate of deep-fried goodies, of which the samosa was to die for. Wrapped in filo, the samosa was flavored with Indian spices, but the traditional potatoes and peas were replaced with mashed fish. The veggies, each nestled with a bit of mashed fish and deep-fried in batter, were rather flavorless and required one of the restaurant's condiments -- a neat salsa made of tomatoes, ginger, and garlic, and an incredibly hot chili and garlic sauce which burned the back of my mouth for a full minute or two. John's appetizer resembled steamed Chinese dumplings. These were stuffed with ground beef mixed with non-Chinese, perhaps Middle-Eastern, spices.

My main dish was a scallop rougaille. The savory, tomato-based sauce was amazing, but unfortunately, my scallops were a little overcooked and chewy instead of tender. It was served with a side of white rice and another of beans (like chili). There was some mix-up with John's dish and he ended up getting a chicken and rice dish instead of pork. Two tasty drumsticks were hidden in a mound of yellow Creole fried rice.

We shared the warm coconut cake served with whipped cream and creme anglaise. Delicious ending!

Our total came to just forty-six euros which also included a coffee and some house wine for John. Not bad for homestyle Mauritian cooking. The service was friendly and efficient. It was a warm evening with a beautiful sunset, so we opted to sit at a table outside on the sidewalk and missed the tropical decor and music indoors.

It's worth trying again. I can't wait to get a full plate of samosas and to try one of their meat dishes, maybe a curry. I know John's going to order a rougaille -- he fell in love with that sauce.

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