Paris Report - June 2012 (Drouant, La Coupole, Frenchie Bar Au Vins, etc...)
We recently had a relatively quick stop through in Paris, (my wife’s first visit to the city). Of course she is ready to plan another visit and each meal we had was fantastic. Impressions of some of the food related highlights are below.
I knew we would be tired on our first evening after an overnight flight. After touring the city all day we needed a lively atmosphere. As I had fond memories of the atmosphere La Coupole, we chose it as our first dinner. It was a bustling and lively atmosphere as I remembered. As a walk in table, we were seated at an available table in the ‘non-American’ section, however there was clearly a large yankees only corral across the room. Service and food were both was excellent. We ordered simply and split the prestige shellfish platter and steak tartar. The shellfish was excellent and we appreciated sampling the Brittany oysters different from those local to our home waters. We also thoroughly enjoyed the generous portion or tartar prepared tableside. The experience at La Coupole was the perfect introduction to get my wife excited for the rest of the visit. It may be touristy, but in my mind, La Coupole is a quintessential Parisian brasserie experience.
At the suggestion of a Parisian colleague, we had our Sunday dinner here and were not disappointed. The atmosphere and room were perfectly suited for Sunday dinner, and the expertly tended bar for pre dinner drinks was an unexpected bonus. Service was some of the most gracious we had on our trip. We were handed the French menu after exchanging greetings when we were seated. The waiter quickly recognized that he had heard most of our learned French and offered the English menu. The dining room was relatively quiet and our waiter not harries, so we asked if he wouldn’t mind us sticking with the French menu and picking our way though it to practice/learn. He happily agreed and graciously pretended that his English was poor so we could both learn something. Standout dishes included the 4 dish vegetable starter, after which we commented that cooking like this could make being a vegetarian livable. The roasted langoustine (Sunday special) was mouthwateringly succulent as were the next round of 4 seasonable vegetables served with the entrees. The fondant portion of the chocolate tasting dessert was deemed our favorite dessert of the trip. Maybe it was the several bottles of champagne consumed, but we agreed this is a place we return to on a future visit.
Frenchie Bar Au Vins:
This is the type of place we usually love and reminded us of a favorite in Florence Italy (il Santino Bevitore). The wine was an excellent value, small plates were delicious (burrata, charcuterie and a crudo I don't recall the specifics of in particular) and service was excellent. However, it was not our most enjoyable meal and probably not somewhere we would return, due to the other patrons. We arrived close to the 7pm opening time on the advice of our concierge and were seated at the two bar seats perpendicular to the door. We were happy to be out of the way as it quickly became a zoo. People (mostly English speaking) did not understand that there was a waiting list outside and kept coming in, clearly displeased they had been waiting too long. The staff was in no rush to turn over tables or seats in the 2+ hours we were there, explaining us that people could reserve a table across the street if they wanted guaranteed seating. A woman who had been standing took my wife’s seat when she got up to use the restroom and actually didn’t want to give it back. The entitled behavior was sort of ridiculous, and made the atmosphere far from relaxed. We were there on a Monday, perhaps another evening would have been a different crowd.
L’As du Falafel:
Yet another meal in Paris that made us complains that there could easily be better food where we live! Famished, we stumbled on this place while shopping in the Marais, and felt very fortunate that we decided to go inside and sit for lunch. The falafel and eggplant were both delicious, particularly when paired with the house hot sauce. The fries were a bit limp and not up to par. All in all, this is the one meal I have craved the most since coming back home.
We grabbed a hearty lunch at this comfortable bistro off the Champs-Élysées (located on a quiet and pretty side street) as our last meal before heading to the airport. A classical meal of endive salad with Roquefort, roast chicken and fries, and profiteroles were delicious. Accompanied by a nice bottle of rose, this sent me to a nice nap on the plane while flying home.
Le Flore en l'Ile:
Another worth bistro. We stopped here for ice cream and rest while touring around Notre Dame and Ile St. Louis. We decided we were hungry enough for a light meal and were glad we stayed. The salade landaise was particularly tasty. This was a very nice spot to sit outside and watch the foot traffic on the island.
Resto du Printemps:
This was a surprise find. We just had coffee up here as a break from the department store. However I must say it is one of the best views in all of Paris. I would recommend it as a must stop for anyone hitting up the department stores.
I had never been in here on previous visits. Wow! Even when abroad, some stores are a dime a dozen, but this place is fantastic and unique. The old shop speaks volumes of history. From the copper pieces, to smaller utensils there are many items worthy of shipping home. When people on these boards ask for places for cooking supplies, this has to be THE place. The staff was pleasant, helpful and low pressure.
Detou was the perfect place to pick up sea salt and all sorts of edible gifts to give to worthy friends back home. If you want it, they’ve got it.
Our choice for the requisite chocolate purchases.
It had been several years since my last visit, but I was strongly reminded what a wonderful city Paris is. We were treated graciously at every turn. Luckily it is a quick direct flight away, so we will be back soon.
Thank you for reporting back. Your experience at Frenchie wine bar is hilarious; does not sound very civilized if one has to take one's chair with one to the bathroom.
Very interesting take on La Coupole. I used to love going there. It used to have a - surprise - very good chicken curry rice, then DH and I would share a Soufflé grand marnier. I went back a few times and can't bear seeing the menu become identical with those Flo clones. I do miss that strangely comforting big room and those funky murals.
Agree re l'As du Falafel. Never got what the big deal was about.
Thank you again.
Many thanks for a good read. And, yes, the hot sauce at L'As du Falafels is worth limp fries and indifferent service.
Lovely to see that, despite its Flo-ization, La Coupole can still deliver a memorable evening... and you were wise to order simply ... some of the more complicated plats can easily tarnish the enjoyment ... but to reassure Parigi, the signature lamb curry remains a joy but not sure if a chicken version is still available ... "corraling" Anglophones in a particular area is pretty common in Paris to make sure that they get the more fluent English-speaking waiters and don't slow down the service... actually I wish more restaurants would do it... i've been in restaurants where the service has come to a complete halt because the overworked server has to deal with a table of uncomprehending foreigners who need every detail of the menu explained ...
Falafel on the rue des Rosiers is one of those tourist rituals that leaves some of us locals rather bemused. Certainly when the street is not heaving with tourists and there are no lines, I wouldn't hestitate to grab a falafel at l'As du Falafel or Chez Hanna if peckish and happen to find myself within a few hundred metres of the rue des Rosiers. But when I get a hankering for falafel, the only place worth a detour for me is L for Liza on the rue de la Banque in the 2nd. And then retreat, with lots of napkins, to a bench in the Square Louvois or the gardens of the Palais Royal to consume it and to ponder how beautiful life can be.
Part of the appeal of L'As for us is that we literally did just come upon it with no preset expectations, and it provided better falafel than anything we can get at home.
This trip in general was relatively unplanned for us and we had several walk in meals. This is not normally the way we would do it, but things have been busy and planning was last minute. It is nice to know that you can still eat better in your city than anywhere in the world without too much effort. There are so many threads on this board in particular with much teeth gnashing over A vs B restaurant, or which reservations are not available. I am sure there are bad meals to be had in Paris, however most people on this board can rest assured that they have done enough legwork to have great experiences in your city.
I have meant to respond to this:
"La Coupole can still deliver a memorable evening... and you were wise to order simply ... some of the more complicated plats can easily tarnish the enjoyment ...
Indeed there is such a thing as ordering right in a brasserie.
One should order defensively.
By which I mean one should do as Parnassien: order simply. Don't go for the more sophisticated sounding dishes. Order the kind of thing that is hard to screw up. That for me is the "usage" (French sense of the word) of brasseries. Don't expect the kind of cuisine that gives mankind the word. It's really just comfort food in a historic setting.
"but to reassure Parigi, the signature lamb curry remains a joy but not sure if a chicken version is still available"
No it is not, for which, and for other reasons, I will never forgive those Flo dudes. -- Maybe I will. This thread makes me want to go back actually. Sigh.