Sunday, September 21, 2008

Eating in Paris: the final instalment

I've browsed my last few posts on eating in Paris to refresh which spots I've already mentioned: Christophe's, le Martignac and le petit Vatel, and l'Avant-Goût (my first post on eating in Paris was much more general, although it did mention Angelina's and Ladurée specifically). I see that I've got five spots left that you really should know about, and I'm going to cram them all into one post so that my good blogging friends, Une Femme d'un Certain Age and La Duchesse, will have the deets before they head off to that wonderful City of Light next month.

First, the place we've returned to most over our last four visits, trying our best to get an outside table so that we can sit on the sidewalk and people-watch while we make moaning-groaning sounds of the this-is-so-good variety over our Salade Oeuf Moellet: Le Nimrod. In the 6th at the corner of Rue de Cherche-Midi and St. Placide, it's only a block from the Bon Marché -- it's rather my ace in the hole if I want to have another look at a skirt or some scarves. I just have to lure Paul to Le Nimrod with the reminder of their duck confit's crispy-skinned goodness and then he can either do a bit of shopping with me or just sit with a beer or another espresso 'til I get back. I learned of this spot on David Lebowitz's fabulous blog and was especially tickled to recognize him there, spring before last, leading one of his foodie-chocolate tours.

Next, not too far away, a traditional brasserie, very Art Nouveau, early 20th-century, Le Petit Lutétia at 107 Rue de Sèvres. This was recommended by my friend Andrea, and it lived up quite nicely to our expectations. I had a gorgeous Salade de Betteraves followed by a Feuilletté à la Pintadeau et Foie Gras (I do like the variety of fowl you can get in France -- and I do love foie gras!). Paul started with a beautiful plate of asperges vinaigrette -- and the fat, white asparagus became his fixation over the next week, trying to find another serving as good. He followed up with a delicious lamb dish, and then we each had dessert -- something raspberry for him and an apple tart for me (a reversal of our usual, but again, he'd had a wonderful raspberry dessert earlier at Laduréee and was hoping to repeat the experience).
This was the evening when, having dined rather early (after choosing to stay central, then go back to the hotel, rather than go back, change, then out again), we strolled home along St. Germain and heard jazz coming out of Old Navy (a diner-ish looking place, nothing we'd have gone into otherwise) and went in for a drink, staying 'til the trio packed up at 11:30 --a swing guitar trio led by Rodolphe Raffalli -- truly, it was the perfect, perfect evening. (If you open Raffali's site in another window, you can enjoy his jazz stylings in the background while you read about eating in Paris! -- that's what I'm doing as I write this post)

The next little spot we found, serendipitously, on our own: a charmingly simple crêpe place called La Bolée on Rue Servendoni, just below the Luxembourg Gardens. We each had a savoury followed by a sweet crêpe, accompanied by a bowl of cider. Service was friendly, our fellow diners all French, many of them obviously regulars here, and we felt quite self-congratulatory at our good fortune.

Undoubtedly, our most memorable meal last visit would have to be the one we were treated to by our Parisien friends at Le Petit Marguery. In the Gobelins area of the 13th, not far from our hotel, Le Petit Marguery prides itself on its cuisine bourgeoisie -- traditional French food, beautifully prepared. The 1900s décor is rich, dazzling -- warm reds complemented by surprising hits of turquoise, murals, pillars, trompe d'oeil details, this is a restaurant to really let you feel you're in Paris. Our hosts were warmly greeted and, as their guests, we basked in the spillover warmth -- complimentary champagne with complimentary gougères was sent out to start our meal. After that, Paul was delighted to begin with his asperges blanches vinaigrettes again while I had 9 huitres -- oysters on the half shell served in their beautifully fresh brine. Across the table, J. enjoyed escargot et champignons while P. had carpaccio à bar. While all of this was being served and eaten, I was doing my best to keep up my end of the conversation, almost completely maintained en français. Wonderful for enhancing our sense of belonging in this Parisian scenario; slightly challenging, though, to keep the brain working while all I wanted to do was surrender to the sensory experience of the meal!
Next, three of us rather boringly had magret de canard for our main while one chose a poisson. No regrets on my part as the duck breast was perfectly done, rosé, juicy, scrumptious! At any rate, we had already been instructed by our Parisien host on just how non-French it would be to share bites of each other's food -- P. considers this a real transgression, maintaining it destroys the palate for the meal's integrity. We were a bit cheeky and did tease him by exchanging bites of our dessert -- I had the most amazing Grand Marnier soufflé and Paul had something custardy, with a sugary top that was not quite a brulée.
And then, stuffed as we were, we were challenged by a wonderful complimentary plate of mignardaises -- tiny perfectly-crafted chocolates, meringue kisses, mini madeleines and more. We did our best, but, ooooh la la!!
This perfect evening was made even more memorable by a drive 'round Paris to view the night lights. Thank you again to our generous and thoughtful Parisien friends!

And one last recommendation: a cozy Moroccan restaurant, Le Scirocco at 8 rue des Gobelins, right across the street from our hotel. The food here is so good -- wonderful fragrant flatbreads made, we're sure, by someone's Moroccan aunt in the back kitchen, accompany marvellous aromatic individual tagines (lamb with prunes and almonds; chicken with preserved lemons among our favourites). The host seems, even, to remember us from other visits, and altho' he's generally flying by the end of the evening as the place fills up, the service is warm and friendly. It's a great room for people-watching, with a friendly, slightly-exotic ambiance, velvety cushions to sink back on. No surprise that we seem to end up here more than once over our nine or ten days. And now I'm longing for a return visit . . .

So there you go. I've caught you up on my favourite spots to eat in Paris. If you have any to share, I'll be happy to hear them or a favourite memory of a meal there.


  1. So I did as instructed and have some lovely guitar music playing as I browse the blogs this evening! Your descriptions are so wonderful; I really hope that we'll have the opportunity to try out some of your favourite restaurants. Thanks for putting in all that hard work for us! :0)Patricia

  2. Oh, thank you so much! I'm making notes! They all sound fabulous.

  3. Moroccan food and French food all in one post---mium,mium!! What a delicious post. I am printing and saving this post in my Paris trip planner notebook. Merci!!

  4. You're all very welcome -- as Patricia suggests, it was gruelling, the research, but I'll do anything for my readers ;-)

  5. Oh how I long for different streets.

  6. Ah, we have visited Le Petit Marguery for years. Especially in the fall when the game menu is served. Will love to try a few of your other recommendations!

  7. Thomas: weren't you in NY this time last year? any trips planned?
    Duchesse: You really do get around, don't you! I got an e-mail from J. today and she says she and P. were there Sunday and the gibier menu is on now 'til the end of hunting season. We won't be able to check out that fall food until after retirement as I can never get away in September-October -- some day, sigh!


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