Paris Eats

Paris Eats

Paris is renowned for its fabulous restaurants, and the buzz is all true…but my favorites are not necessarily acclaimed or Michelin-starred.  Here’s my three fail-safe restaurant recommendations, and a bonus afternoon snack stop.

Le Bistro de Paris

Le Bistro de Paris serves up classic French food in an elegant setting.  I love having a leisurely lunch there, sitting side by side with smartly-dressed professionals, and stylish ladies-who-lunch.  My mouth is watering just thinking about the endives aux noix et roquefort Papillon, a salad of endive with creamy roquefort cheese and walnuts, sprinkled with chives.

The last time I was there I ordered this salmon with pommes puree (mashed potatoes…sounds so much better in French, doesn’t it?), but if it’s your first time there, you must order the Dover sole.  The waiter delicately bones it tableside, and it is the most delectable piece of fish you will ever eat.

The mille-feuille (translated as “a thousand sheets”) is a must-have dessert…but it’s so popular here that they often run out. Many, many layers of paper-thin pastry sandwiched with custard, and topped with caramelized sugar…if they have it, get it.

The restaurant is on rue de Lille in the 7th arrondissement, just down the street from the Musee D’Orsay.  Be sure to book ahead.  One last note: Look for the friendly French waiter who speaks English with an American accent.  The first time I met him I was so confused…until he explained that he had lived in Detroit for many years, thus the perfect American accent.

Le Bistro de Paris
33, rue de Lille
+33 42 61 16 83

Le Relais de L’Entrecote

One of my favorite meals anywhere in the world is steak frites…and you can’t get better than this.  It’s the only thing Le Relais de L’Entrecote serves.  It’s perfect for a first night in Paris when you’re jet lagged and don’t want to have to make decisions.  Sit down and, in a flash, a waitress in a prim black and white uniform is at your side.  All you need to tell her is how you want your steak done, and if you want a glass of wine.  She writes your answers down on the white paper tablecloth and scurries away.

Before you can open your Kindle (if you’re traveling alone), she’s back with a salad, a plate of bread, your glass of wine, and a carafe of water.  The salad is dressed with a deliciously sharp dijon dressing, and topped with chopped walnuts.

Here’s the thing about the steak frites…they have a secret green peppercorn sauce that you can’t get anywhere else.  I’ll admit it looks a little like algae in the photo, but it is scrumptious tangy goodness.

Just when you’ve finished your steak and are cleaning up the sauce with your frites, the waitress shows up with seconds!  The steak and frites have been sitting nearby on warming plates, so your plate is refilled with steak, frites, and, of course, more sauce.

Don’t be tempted to overeat, though, because you have to save room for dessert.  There is a menu for dessert…with everything from an ice cream and meringue tower to, my personal favorite, profiteroles.  I’ve eaten a lot of profiteroles in a lot of places, and these get my vote for number one.  (You can see the photo at the top of the post.)

Helpful hint: Le Relais de L’Entrecote is quite popular with tourists and locals alike, and on weekends there are long lines to get in for dinner.  The line goes relatively fast, but if you want to avoid it, go early on a weekday.  There are four locations in Paris, but I always go to the one on rue Saint-Benoit in the 6th arrondissement.

Le Relais de L’Entrecote
20, rue Saint-Benoît +33 1 45 49 16 00
101, boulevard du Montparnasse +33 1 46 33 82 82
15, rue Marbeuf +33 1 49 52 07 17
http://www.relaisentrecote.fr

L’Auberge Saint Germain

If you’re in the mood for comfort food, the couscous at L’Auberge Saint Germain can’t be beat.  My friends in Paris first introduced me to this restaurant, and now I can’t wait to go every time I’m in town.  It’s a family-run restaurant that’s been in business for 35 years.  Albert, the owner, is French, but his roots are Algerian, hence the North African cuisine.

The meal is served family style.  The first thing to come to the table is a platter of steaming couscous, topped with sweet prunes and small pats of butter, and a kettle filled with vegetables…large chunks of potatoes, carrots, and zucchini, flavored with onions and garlic, coriander and cumin, simmering in a tomato-y broth.

Choose your meat, or have a little bit of all three: lamb, chicken and North African merguez sausage.

Dish up and top with chickpeas and golden raisins served in small dishes…and dig in.

Finish the meal with a glass of sweet tea garnished with mint leaves.  My friends eat here at least once a week, and I love this meal so much, I’ve thought about trying to duplicate it at home…but I never do, because I know it just won’t be the same.

L’Auberge Saint Germain
204 boulevard saint germain,
01 45 48 73 30
http://couscousparis.com

Le Babylone Brasserie

Here’s the bonus: If you want to stop in a cozy place and sit with a book and have a hot chocolate and the lightest, fluffiest crepes in Paris (in my opinion, of course), stop for an afternoon snack at Le Babylone Brasserie.  It’s right down the street from the famous department store Le Bon Marchè, so shop until you drop and then head over for a break.

Le Babylone Brasserie
12 Rue de Babylone

BON APPETIT!

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