Paris over NYE 2013/14 and what we ate
For pictures of my dining adventures in Paris: http://bit.ly/foodparis
One of the things I most enjoy about being in Europe on vacation is having long, leisurely meals. Paris is a perfect example – we followed Anthony Bourdain’s footsteps to Bistrot Paul Bert, had Pierre Hermé’s delicious macarons, and dined at one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Bistrot Paul Bert / 18 Rue Paul Bert / 75011 Paris / 01 43 72 24 01
This was our first meal in Paris, but unfortunately not one of our favorite meals of the trip. The bistro was busy when we arrived, but we were seated right away. The menu is written on a board daily, with a 3 course option at 38€ (if purchased separately, the appetizers is 10€, entree 27€, and dessert/cheese 9€). It’s only lunchtime there but our bodies were still in Eastern Standard Time and exhausted from a day of traveling. The waiters were nice and they explained every item on the board since it was all in French. We opted for the appetizer and main course only with a bottle of house red wine. This is the restaurant that was featured on “The Layover” and the food they had on the show is on a different “specials” board that was not part of the prix fixe. We had the smoked herring and scallops, followed by venison and beef – I adored the buttery scallops but my venison entree was too rare – it was difficult to chew and swallow. We had a decent lunch here but I wouldn’t rush to come back again soon.
Pierre Hermé / 18 rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie / 75004 Paris / 01 43 54 47 77
We were wandering around Le Marais after we visited Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris and we purposely stumbled upon the Pierre Hermé boutique. These are the most beautiful macarons I’ve ever seen, an assortment of rich, bright and metallic colors. The flavors here are exquisite, from hazelnut to passion fruit to foie gras. I bought a box of various different macarons, including a white truffle (my favorite) one that the clerk kept separate (in a bag) from the box so that the scent doesn’t overtake the others. I tried the white truffle macaron as soon as we left the store, it’s one of the best treats I’ve had in the year (it was December 28!), truffle and hazelnut is a luscious combination – I wanted to go back into the store immediately to buy a whole box of them. These macarons were still fresh and tasty after 2 days when I had it for breakfast at the Louvre. Make sure you visit to the store when you are in Paris – even if you don’t like sweets, these gorgeous confections and chocolates make fantastic souvenirs.
Le Chateaubriand / 129 Avenue Parmentier / 75011 Paris / 01 43 57 45 95
This was dinner for our first night in town – they take reservations for the 1st seating (7:30pm) only, walk ins are welcomed for times later in the evening. In 2013, Le Chateaubriand was #18 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. I was lucky to get the last reservation of the night when I called, since they were closed the next two days (on Sunday and Monday) and Tuesday night would’ve been New Year’s Eve. There is no menu here the prix fixe is 60€, you are asked if you have any allergies and preferences for drinks (wine pairing available) to accompany your meal. We had cheese puffs, cerviche, pomelo with foie gras, (a few more dishes), squid, venison, fish, and Tocino del Cielo (must eat in one bite) for dessert. There were some other dishes too, the servers were attentive and introduced every dish to us when they were brought to the table. The decor here is simple, no table cloths, or new silverware between courses – the food is inspired and unique. We left full (stomachs and wallet) and happy and I’d recommend Le Chateaubriand to my good friends any day.
Axuria / 54 Avenue Felix Faure / 75015 Paris, France / 01 45 54 13 91
It’s not easy finding a good restaurant in Paris for dinner on a Sunday night: there’s a booklet called “Les Restaurants Du Dimanche” created to solve this problem. We arrived at Axuria just as chef-owner Olivier Amestoy as taking a break from the kitchen. The restaurant is located in the 15th district and close to the metro 8. This is a neighborhood restaurant but also worth a visit from across town; the decor inside was contemporary, natural, and inviting – suitable for a date or special occasion. As an amuse, we were greeted with cheese puffs and a few slices of charcuterie. We had the 2 course prix fixe for 28€ and there were plenty of choices on the menu. Chef Amestoy uses high quality ingredients from different parts of France: the escargot was made with butter from Burgundy and the beef was from Aquitaine. We also had the ravioli with langoustine and duck with polenta. For dessert I has the Grand Marnier soufflé and it was a perfect ending to our amazing meal. For the rest of the trip I kept checking the restaurant menus to have the soufflé again but I didn’t see it, perhaps it was better this way because the one I had at Axuria is how I’d like to remember my soufflé in Paris – unadulterated and simply heavenly. If I had a few more days to spend in town I would be happy to return to this restaurant again.
Au Petit Sud-Ouest / 46 av. de la Bourdonnais / 75007 Paris / 01 45 55 59 59
Foie gras and duck was the theme of our lunch: a trip to France wouldn’t be complete without this rich, buttery, and local delicacy. French law states that “Foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France“. We arrived around 2pm to a dining room filled with tourists from France and abroad. There were different preparations of foie gras, fresh, bloc, pâté, cold, half cooked or fried and the hostess is helpful in describing the choices. There was a toaster on every table, it was nice to have hot fresh bread on demand on this chilly winter day. We had a bloc of foie gras, duck gizzard salad, classic confit duck leg with fried potatoes and mushroom, and duck stew. Don’t miss the mushrooms, it is earthy, wholesome, savory, and expertly prepared. There’s a shop in the front of the restaurant too for more foie gras and other treats to go. Au Petit Sud-Ouest is located just a few minutes from the Eiffel tower and they take reservations by request on their website – it’s a must if you like foie gras and duck.
Le Ballon des Ternes / 103 av. des Ternes / 75017 Paris / 01 45 74 17 98
This was a last minute restaurant recommended by the hotel when we asked for a place with fresh seafood. It is located directly across the street from Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile. The decor is art deco classic French brasserie. We had the onion soup and crab bisque, the onion soup arrived lukewarm but the crab bisque was better. We ordered a platter of seafood that included oysters, periwinkle, mussels, shrimp, and clams – we also added sea urchin (small and briny). Overall the meal was okay, the restaurant is catered to the tourists and hotel guests in the area. The waiters are sliding from table to table and they were not pleasant – he told me they only have champagne in France and there’s no such thing as sparkling wine when I asked if they had pétillant. I’m not impressed and I wouldn’t go back again.
FL Restaurant / 1 bis Rue Augereau / 75007 Paris / 01 45 51 06 04
FL is how the French pronounce Eiffel (as in tower), the restaurant is practically located in the shadow of this world famous attraction. We had a delightful lunch here on New Year’s Eve. The waitress was friendly and her English was very good. The space is intimate and cozy, our bread was served on a skewer and not in a basket. The two course lunch was 16€ and it’s 23€ for three courses. We had the famous Ficelle Picarde, which is a mille-feuille of potato crepes, ham and cheese – it was light and divine and I wouldn’t mind having another serving. The duck terrine was fresh and home made, the fricassées of chicken was moist and served on a bed of vegetables thinly sliced like pasta strands, and the pork special was juicy and crispy on top of a bed of lentil and foie gras. We finished our lunch with a plate of delectable cheese. Nicolas Valanchon is a talented chef and it is easy to see that in his food, the ingredients are fresh here and the combinations are inventive. Be sure to book your table in advance, there aren’t many seats here so you will want to have a reservation.
Picnic at the Hotel:
Foie Gras – Dubernet / 2 Rue Augereau / 75007 Paris /01 45 55 50 71
Baguette Tradition - Le Champ Des Delices / 145 Rue Saint-Dominique / 75007 Paris / 01 45 51 43 86
Champagne – Le Repaire de Bacchus / 122 rue Saint Dominique / Paris 75007 / 01 45 51 77 21
Taramasalata and Salmon Roe - Boutique Hédiard George V / 31 Avenue George V / 75008 Paris / 01 47 20 44 44
Spending $$$$ to dine at a restaurant on a holiday doesn’t appeal to me, I prefer not to be in a room filled with anxious, inebriated strangers. After our lunch at FL restaurant we started gathering the courses to our picnic at the hotel. The area was perfect for this, Dubernet specializes in foie gras and it was right across the street from the restaurant. The wine shop where we got the champagne was around the corner, and the bakery was down the street. We picked up all this on the way to the Eiffel tower after lunch – we thought about going up but the line was too long and it didn’t look like it was moving. Besides, it was grey and cloudy too so we opted not to wait on the queue. We strolled to the Hédiard on the way to the Champs-Élysées and grabbed a few more items, as well as some tea leaves to bring back to the states. We created a scrumptious meal and we were ready to welcome in 2014! Cheers!
NOTE: Many restaurants are closed between Christmas and New Years for holiday break, make sure to call ahead before stopping by.