51, Rue du Commerce, 75015, Paris.
I am gradually catching up on writing the reports of my recent travels to England and France and would like to share my experiences with Chowhounders. These were written from notes made at the time of visiting.
Date of visit: July 6th 2004
[Disclaimer, a restaurant owner I have got to know well enough to now describe him as a friend, after eating at his restaurants regularly in SF has some kind of interest in the Parisian Cafe I am writing about here]
If you go to Cafe Bastille on San Francisco's Belden Lane, you might notice, above the stairs, a framed poster for Le Cafe du Commerce. This is no coincidence as Bastille's owner, O, also has interests in this classic French eaterie in the 15th Arrondissement. A long mirrored passageway leads you to the atrium-style restaurant on 3 levels with a glass sliding roof, balconied eating areas and a whole jungle of leafy plants.
F introduced himself to Etienne, the owner, who had met once in San Francisco. He suggest we sit upstairs on one of the balconies.
This Cafe is famous for serving strictly traditional French food. Fred had been longing for oeufs mayonnaise so that is what he requested for a starter. Five halves of boiled egg, arranged flat side down around a piece of tomato were each decorated with a swirl of fresh made mayonnaise with a piquant taste of mustard that transported it to world's away from something you would find in a jar on the supermarket shelf. My poireaux vinaigrette, a pile of soft dressed leeks with a strong taste of shalottes was clean and fresh tasting.
For our entrees (which refers to the main course in France, not a starter as it is confusingly means in the USA), Fred ordered a bavette steak and I decided to try lamb chops. Both meats were served with fries and the tarragon-flavoured sauce bearnaise. All ingredients were freshly cooked and piping hot but I found the meal to be incredibly fatty. Fred thought his steak was a little bit on the tough side. I certainly wouldn't be able to eat that kind of rich meal every day.
With our meal we drank very reasonable red Gamay de Tourenne, served cold in 50cl carafes.