And eat we did. Sucre crepes from the street vendors? Check. The simple perfection of a ham and salted butter baguette sandwich while on the go? Probably one too many to count. Our sit-down meals were no less pleasurable. The beauty of Paris, as with Vienna, is that between the walking and the second hand smoke, I likely lost weight while on my short holiday.
As with most casual French restaurants we dropped into, the plat du jour at a bistro in Saint Germain was inexpensive. €10 bought a plate of pate de campagne (with my favorite tiny French cornichon), chicken paillard in a Norman-style mushroom creme sauce, and just the right sized wedge of apple tartin for me. For Tony, the French onion soup, Boeuf Bourguignon, and a chocolate pot de créme. With a small carafe vin rouge, lunch was but €28.
I have already spoken about the steak at our Sunday evening brasserie supper, unadorned so as to allow the dinner guest not to be distracted with sauces or condiments. Just as steak should be. But the dessert cheese! This is the oozy, ripe, round of creamy and just a wee bit tart Saint Marcellin, expertly paired with a warm cherry sauce and simple salad. The waiter who brought the cheese was as excited as I that I loved it so. Our cost for the plat du jour supper? With carafe vin rouge, of course, a mere €42.
On our last evening we snagged a table at a brasserie that had been rather busy the previous night, and with two couples milling about outside waiting for an open table. We took that as a sign that we should eat at this most unpretentious restaurant, tucked down a side lane and having only ten tables.
From the warm and welcoming maître d’hotel to the chefs who obviously delighted in the culinary works of art served to their guests, to the new friends we made (the tables were very close!), our evening ranks among the top ten dinners we have experienced.
To start I was immediately drawn to the novelty of angel hair wrapped prawns with homemade guacamole. An unusual combination I am now anxious to recreate at home.
Tony selected the sautéed gizzards with bacon. I suspect it was the bacon that captured his attention. This poultry food-grinding organ, gently tossed with crisp bacon, was so heavenly that I have added this, as well, to my list of dishes I am anxious to recreate at home.
Then came the main entrée. Do you see that impeccably roasted duck on my plate? Each morsel, paired with a small bite of the cabbage mousse (Oh, yes! The chef went there!) was its own experience, for which Tony gave me my culinary privacy. (For the record, I did not lift the plate and lick the remaining sauce.)
Once again, my darling husband honed in on the Alsatian beef roll with bacon. The chef, as we learned, is from the Alsace region and likes to influence Parisian cooking with recipes from his mother.
Our long evening, including lovely conversation with the group seated next to us and not one, but two small carafe vin rouge, lightened the pocketbook by only €65.
I am not of the habit to discuss the cost of my culinary outings; however, while taking the long walk back to the apartment that evening, Tony and I commented together that on the previous weekend the four of us had enjoyed an ordinary Austrian lunch, with neither starter nor dessert and but one glass of wine each, that was not much less than the sum of the three extraordinary meals we experienced in Paris, and we wondered why that was the case.
Once back in the apartment, I just happened to search the restaurant on the Internet to see if it was known in Paris. Imagine our surprise to learn that we had just left a restaurant ranked by several travel sites as a “Top Ten Dining Experience in Paris!”