I’ve just gotten back from Paris, where I gathered with my huge brood of siblings to celebrate a sister’s big birthday. For the most part we didn’t go too crazy with our dining choices, gathering at brasseries, wine bars and easygoing restaurants.
One place we tried, on the recommendation of Clotilde Dusoulier, who writes the Chocolate and Zucchini blog, was a really fun spot called J’Go. The name is a bit of a play on words, as it sounds like “gigot,” or leg of lamb in French. It specializes in cuisine from Toulouse and the Southwestern region of Gascony. You sit at long wooden tables, drink great Gascon wines and — if you’re in a large group — order from a menu that sets you to large joints of spit-roasted pork and lamb. There are also whole ducks and chickens, as well as Southwestern specialties like cassoulet.
As it is hard for groups of more than one Kessler to agree on anything, I couldn’t get much traction going for a whole leg of lamb or lamb saddle to feed the table. But three of us did agree to go sharesies, and got this braised seven-hour lamb shoulder with fennel and cauliflower. It had a simple, likable flavor and invited much spooning of sauce and picking of bones. The serious heap of mashed potatoes served alongside kept encouraging us to spoon up just a bit more sauce and veg. I really, really want to go back and try something roasted here. (Here’s American in Paris David Lebovitz on J’Go.)
I wonder if a restaurant like this could ever work in the United States. I think American diners like to have more choice and more customization on the plate to go for a free-for-all. I remember Billy Allin served a lamb saddle for four at Cakes & Ale for a while, but it didn’t last long.
Would you go for a hunka-hunk of meat?