All the Pretty Paris Meals, 2nd Edition

I like a lot of places.  But I love very few.  Cities are like people in that way.  But I love Paris.  Paris, je t’aime.  If a city could be a person, Paris would be my best friend.  And New York would be my mom.  Even though in real life, the one comes from the other!  But you get the point.

I am in London seeing Mr. English, and because I don’t know when I’ll be back in Europe, I begged him to go to Paris with me.  It’s still such novelty to me, fleeing to my favorite city by train, staying for just a couple days.  What American thinks of going to Paris for less than a weekend?  I will never take that for granted.

I love the moment the Eurostar emerges from the under the Channel, and I know I am looking onto the fields of northern France.  I still imagine them in such a provincial way, full of butter and Calvados, like out of a Courbet painting.  Even though in reality I see wind farms.  Then, I arrive in Paris.  I am always grinning like the Cheshire cat who caught the canary–ear to ear.  Because I am in Paris!  How cool is that?  I slip onto the Metro, and come out on the same street where we always stay, at the same hotel, on the same street on which I lived while I was at the Cordon Bleu.  I love that I have a little “home” in a city I didn’t even visit until I was fifteen years old.  It’s close to my cousins, but it has nothing to do with where maman and Mémé lived ages ago.  It’s all mine.  I know all my favorite shops and bistros and cafés.  And Mr. English and I always chide each other, because we never go anywhere else except my favorite shops and bistros and cafés.  The same pet shop that has crazy things like pigeons and squirrels.  The picnic spot on the Seine.  But I like the sense of being a local in Paris.  Again, how cool is that?

I’m passing a dreary Tuesday afternoon in a very gray London, and there’s a chance you might be doing that too somewhere.  So, if you want a little daydream, here’s a vicarious trip through fabulous Paris, as Mr. English and I lived it last weekend.  These are some of my favorite places and things, so if you plan on being Parisian anytime soon, these come with great references.

Thursday Lunch

I arrived in the Gare du Nord alone, with my usual Cheshire-Cat-ate-the-canary grin, and had to find lunch before Metro-ing over to the Petit Bateau store on the Champs-Elysées where I tend to over-stock up because the tees and striped sweaters that I subsist on are so much cheaper in France (especially if you’re there in time for the summer sales!) than they are in the Madison Avenue outpost.  The best place for that is the Horse’s Tavern, where I used to go for a 10PM Croque Monsieur after cooking school.  I don’t know why it has a name from the Wild Wild West, because it has a totally French menu.  They have so many different delicious croques on the menu that I decided not to stop and judge.  But this time, I had onion soup gratinée and a salade verte.  The onion soup took me surprise, so clear, and with very thin, miniscule bits of tomato.  But it really worked.  So gooey and satisfying.

The Horse's Tavern

The Horse's Tavern

The Horse’s Tavern

16 Carrefour Odéon

75006 Paris France

+33 01 43 54 96 91

Thursday Dinner

Mr. English met me in time for dinner in Paris.  What a gent!  Where else but our favorite place, Le Comptoir?  We sat outside on the terrace under the heaters, and it was the perfect date.  Tightly tucked on tiny round bistro tables between animated conversations and precocious pets pining for a knocked-over coin of baguette.  I love it there.  Mr. English had pavé d’agneau (roast lamb) with a wine sauce and vegetables, and his favorite, the salade niçoise.  I had beef-cheek daube, a winey stew from Provence.  They actually cooked baby elbow macaroni in the wine broth, so it was stained burgundy, and soaked with delicious stewiness.  Genius.  An idea I will definitely be hijacking.  I started with the salad of legumes de saison–every time I go there, it’s a new selection of vegetables in a new vinaigrette, so always with such abundance and color and gaiety.  It’s the best salad.  And for dessert, because this is my favorite thing anywhere in all of Paris, Le Comptoir’s vanilla pot de crème, which in my humble opinion sets the standard for all cream pots worldwide.  It is super thick, but velvety, and only slight sweet while brimming with little dots of vanilla.  It’s a dream.  I made Mr. English order his own.  I am so not sharing that.

Le Comptoir

Le Comptoir

Le Comptoir

In the Hôtel Relais Saint Germain

9 Carrefour Odéon

75006 Paris France

+33 01 43 29 12 05

Friday Breakfast

We got a really late start, so we walked down the Boulevard Saint-Germain to Les Deux Magots, our favorite breakfast place, even if it is both touristy and ritzy.  We love sitting on the terrace during the summer watching the sparrows peck at the remains of our croissants.  It’s very Paris to us.  I ordered a Croque Monsieur, which was, to put it simply, simply terrific.  I washed it down with a super-sour Citron Pressé.  Perfect as a prelude to shopping across the street at Aigle and Monoprix for rainboots and argan oil.

Croque Monsieur Les Deux Magots

Croque Monsieur, Les Deux Magots

Les Deux Magots

6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés

75006 Paris France

+33 01 45 48 44 25

Friday Lunch

Mr. English and I are obsessed with the Caviar d’Aubergines you can buy at the Monoprix, a department store with a great food hall, and, incidentally, really good inexpensive French soaps like Le Petit Marseillais.  We picked up a tub of Caviar d’Aubergines, which is like French Baba Ganoush, and a baguette, and head to the Luxembourg Gardens.  We wash it down with French green plums, so juicy that my hands are soaked as I eat.  Paris is a place to picnic.

Caviar d'Aubergines, Monoprix

Caviar d'Aubergines, Monoprix

Monoprix

50 rue de Rennes

75006 Paris France

Other stores all over France

Friday Snack

We spent the afternoon walking down the Quais on the Left Bank, browsing the stalls of old books and drawings.  I collect, admittedly, cheap copies of Redoutés flower drawings that you can find all over those stalls.  We ended at Berthillon on the Ile Saint-Louis.  It’s Paris’s most famous ice cream shop–and there are many ice cream shops in Paris.  I always order their raspberry-rose sorbet or their raspberry whipped cream, but it’s being winter, they didn’t have any.  Cheers to French insistence on seasonality!  So instead, I ordered the French equivalent of a sundae: vanilla ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.  But the vanilla ice cream was so full of vanilla that it was nearly brown, and so fragrant and delicious.  The whipped cream was stiff and fresh.  And the chocolate coulis was a just a warm drizzle, a hint.  With an almond tuile instead of a cone–it was very good.  There is something very romantic about eating something childish with the one you love.  And something very competitive about sharing a sundae.

Berthillon's Ice Cream Sundae

Berthillon's Ice Cream Sundae

Berthillon

29-31 rue Saint-Louis-en-Ile

75004 Paris France

+33 01 43 54 31 61

Friday Dinner

I took Mr. English back to an old institution of mine: Le Relais de l’Entrecôte.  They don’t have a menu: it’s a steak and potato place, and all you tell them is how you’d like your meat cooked.  How I hadn’t brought my steak-and-potatoes English boyfriend to this place before now I really don’t know.  We both ordered medium, and soon a green salad with walnuts and mustard dressing and baguette arrived.  Soon after, a plate of sliced steak in this unfathomable secret sauce that I’ve been trying to figure out for a decade, but still can’t decipher, under a pile of matchstick French fries.  And then, wait for it, a second identical plate arrives.  You could have dessert, but we just went for a drink at Les Editeurs a couple of blocks away.  Cassis and soda–I highly recommend it.

Steak Frites, L'Entrecote

Steak Frites, L'Entrecôte

Le Relais de l’Entrecôte

20 rue Saint-Benoît

75006 Paris France

+33 01 45 49 16 00

Saturday Breakfast

Why fix something that ain’t broke?  Back to Les Deux Magots for my more usual breakfast: Smoked Salmon Tartine on Poilâne bread, without butter.  It’s cut into little cigarettes so you can eat it with your fingers.  I always wash it down with the Pamplemousse Pressé, freshly squeezed perfect pink grapefruit juice.  And because it was my last day in Paris, a croissant.

Croissant, Les Deux Magots

Croissant, Les Deux Magots

Saturday Dinner

After a day spent buying old engravings in J.C. Martinez and browsing vintage Air France ad posters at Galerie Documents, we were ready to eat again.  We always have our first and last meals at our favorite place: Le Comptoir.  We sat inside this time, and ordered light.  I had the best scallops I’ve ever had, roasted in their shells with sweet butter and herbs, and strips of roasted and braised endive draped over the top.  Bitter, and sweet–just as a last meal should be.  The scallops were barely cooked, and tasted like sweet lobster in drawn butter.  They were so fresh that they were still attached to their shells.  I ran chunks of brown bread through the butter, and ate them.  Mr. English had seared tuna with vegetables and pistou.  And then, a chocolate tarte sablé to share.

Scallop Shells, Le Comptoir

The Remains of the Meal

It was the best weekend.  The worst part of leaving is that I don’t know when I’ll be back.  We always take the train back at night, and I can never tell when we leave those Courbet fields and head back under the Chunnel.  I hate saying goodbye.


All the Pretty Little Paris Meals, 1st Edition

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Categories: Finds, Paris, Restaurants, Voyages

2 Responses to All the Pretty Paris Meals, 2nd Edition

  1. JIm Nesmith says:

    Dear Kerry, You have no idea how timely and deeply appreciated this article is. I am taking my three kids (17, 18 and 35) to Paris on March 26 for spring break. This will be our second trip so we are still very wet behind the ears on great places to eat. So this helps immensely. Thank you so very much. Jim

  2. Jen/YVR says:

    Oh, this has made me ache for Paris!
    My first trip taken without my parents was to London and Paris with my best friend, over spring break of grade 12. After a long day of traveling from Canada to Paris, we crashed into bed and slept like the dead. Our traveling companion woke us up just after the crack of dawn, having already been out for a walk. She urged us to follow her – she said she had something to show us. We were so tired and groggy, we put our jackets over our pjs and trumped out of our hotel after her. We followed her for a few blocks, not really taking in our surroundings. Until we walked through the arches of the Louvre, the mist cleared, and there in the grey distance was the Eiffel Tower. It hit us both at the same time – we were really here! A year of working after school and on weekends to pay our way to Paris had finally paid off. It was amazing.
    We made our way back to the hotel, put some proper clothing on, and made our way down to breakfast. It was like nothing we had ever experienced. Fresh croissant, baguette, and pain au chocolat. Little foil-wrapped wedges of Le Vache Qui Rit to spread on your baguette. Pots of steamed milk to add to the best coffee imaginable. It was heaven. We would spend the next week in Paris thinking or talking about the next day’s breakfast. And like you, when we boarded the Eurostar to head to London via the Chunnel, we were heartbroken to see it slip away.

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