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Where to Eat: Paris

Submitted by on February 22, 2011 – 12:24 amOne Comment

By Susan McKee
The Road Trips Foodie

Parisians raised dining to an art form centuries ago, and visitors to the City of Light have been enjoying the results ever since. From that first sip of cafe au lait in the morning, through a croque monsieur lunch and on to a four-course dinner capped with a snifter of cognac, eating out is meant to replenish both the body and the soul. Don’t expect a quick bite, unless you’re selecting a crêpe from a sidewalk vendor or picking up a baguette filled with sliced meat and cheese in a bakery to eat sitting on a nearby park bench. Dining is leisurely in Paris: savor the experience.

There are many choices, and it’s fun to select different kinds of restaurants. On a recent trip, I found a whole new-to-me group of restaurants to recommend, from Thai to classic bistro to tourist mecca.

Chez Georges

Some restaurants are so popular that they don’t always answer their telephones (and, with some, it’s not possible to make a reservation online). One of these is the venerable Chez Georges (1 Rue du Mail, Paris, 2nd arondisement). After calling several times and getting no answer, my husband and I finally decided to knock on the door. We took the Métro to Bourse and walked over, about an hour before they were scheduled to open for dinner. The door was ajar, so we peeked in — startling the staff, who were sitting at a table sipping coffee. No, there were no tables available that evening, but they could take a reservation for me a couple of days later, and wrote our name in the book.

Chez Georges, which opened near La Bourse (the stock exchange) in 1964, is run by three generations of the Brouillet family and has a loyal clientele. (The man sitting next to me on the long banquette when we dined there said he’d been coming to Chez Georges for 40 years.) It specializes in what Americans call comfort food or, in French, la cuisine bourgeoise. I had a traditional favorite (Sole Georges sauced with Pouilly wine and crème fraîche), while my husband enjoyed a steak. The service was charming, the atmosphere very old Europe and the food delicious. Just be sure you end up at this Chez Georges, and not one of the other (less notable) restaurants in Paris with the same name!

Thaïm

When we couldn’t get into Chez Georges on that first stop, we continued our search for sustenance through the streets of the Second Arondisement, and happened upon Thaïm (46 rue de Richelieu, Paris, 2nd arondisement. Ethnic restaurants are trendy in Paris, and this one showed its one toque award from Gault Millau in the window. It’s a very elegant, small restaurant decorated with lavender and touches of gold (even the plates — square, of course — were a light shade of purple). We each chose one of the day’s specials. I started with a crunchy shrimp spring roll, then chicken soup with lemongrass and hot and spicy shrimp served on white rice. The light yellow cake with mango sorbet was the perfect finish.

Le Dôme

Another venerable Paris institution is Le Dôme (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, Paris, 14th arondisement) that’s been known for its seafood since it opened in 1898. It’s a bit stuffy (the reviews say “traditional décor), but the bi-lingual wait staff is charming. Seafood stars here, and you can’t go wrong starting with oysters. My sole meunière entrée was darned tasty, too. Besides, don’t you want to have a meal where everyone from Vladimir Lenin to Ernest Hemingway has dined? It’s even mentioned in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.

Le Jules Verne

OK, so it’s probably as touristy an upscale restaurant as you can find in Paris, but we really enjoyed lunch at Le Jules Verne (in the Eiffel Tower, Avenue Gustav Eiffel, Paris, 7th arondisement). It’s an Alain Ducasse restaurant, so the menu is inventive if limited. But, then there’s the view. Right out the window: all of Paris at your feet. We took the dedicated elevator up to the restaurant, grateful we didn’t have to wait in line with the dozens headed to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The menu is somewhat limited (and extravagantly expensive: the menu déjeuner at 85 € offered three courses with three choices each). Mine? shellfish soup, Poulet de Bresse and strawberry/rhubarb sorbet with a pistachio biscuit.

Ze Kitchen Galerie Restaurant

Reservations at Ze Kitchen Galerie Restaurant (4 Rue des Grands Augustins, Paris, 6th arondisement) are almost impossible to snag at the last minute, but we lucked out (once again) by turning up in person to beg for a slot. This is contemporary haute cuisine served in an intensely 21st century setting. The tasting menu offered seven courses, each of which was a delicious work of art — from the fish eggs through the cucumber gazpacho, gnocchi, codfish and black pork right through the chocolate and raspberry dessert.

And, PS: It’s not true that you can’t get a bad meal in Paris. Just look for the signs in restaurant windows that read (in English or Chinese or Spanish or Japanese) “tour buses welcome”.

(Photos by Susan McKee)
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One response to “Where to Eat: Paris”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Road Trips 4 Foodies, Road Trips 4 Foodies. Road Trips 4 Foodies said: Parisians raised dining to an art form centuries ago. Visitors to the City of Light have enjoyed the results ever since. http://ht.ly/41aE2 […]

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