Restaurants & Bars 4

NYC chowhound in Paris 1st time: recommendations & impressions (very long)

JackS | Dec 16, 2002 07:08 PM

I visited Paris for the first time and did a lot of chowing. I'll cut right to the highlights, in no particular order:

1. The Belleville stop on the Metro lets you off in the 19th, a diverse, untouristy area. On 34, Rue de Belleville is Lao Thai, a Laotian restaurant that I must confess I found a referral to from "Let's Go." We had a brunch buffet that was solid fare, from spring and summer rolls to pork wontonny-things (I can't speak French). About 8 Euros/person for all-you-can-eat.

2. I got a recommendation from this board for Chartiers at 7, Rue de Faoubourg Montmarte, and was disappointed. I got steak au poivre and the sauce was fine, but they seemed to be unaware of an innovation in cooking whereby application of fire to meat makes it easier to eat. (Maybe that's my fault, since I didn't say "medium rare" or the French equivalent, but then again the waiter didn't ask me how I wanted it). My dining companion got a lamb dish that was also unsatisfying.

3. There was a crepe stand on Boulevard St. Germain, right near that Metro stop, near some church that was built in 500 A.D. or something, that served up a delicious ham-and-cheese crepe. I know that Paris bursts with these places, so it may not be anything special, but hey, I liked it.

4. The Rue de St. Denis is usually dismissed as a seedy area, but went I took the Metro to that stop, I found a very diverse immigrant neighborhood reminiscent of Queens or Brooklyn, with tons of Balkan, Greek, Turkish, Arab, Indian, and African restaurants. I wandered randomly into a Turkish Restaurant, Saray at 75 Rue de Faubourg St. Denis, and had a fine and cheap doner kebab.

5. The felafel in the Marais on Rue de Rosiers (L'As felafel or something) is famous, of course, and deservedly so. I've never liked felafel much before, and I'm a definite convert. What a highlight and a joy. 3.50 Euros.

6. Another recommendation from this Board for a place open on Sunday was Fish, in the 6th at 69 Rue de Seine. We were a bit suspicious at first because there seemed to be a lot of English speakers there, but the food was SUBLIME; a bit on the nouvelle-y side. We had pork fliet mignon and duck breast, both of which were delicious, great salads, a potato and ice-cream dessert and wine. 40 Euros a person; not bad.

7. Another nouvelle-ish restaurant we went to was also in the 6th, 80-something Rue d'Assas near the Luzxembourg Gardens: Cafe Des Delice. The food was good and interesting, but the chef was trying just a little bit too hard; take the foie gras creme brulee with peanuts, or the scallops braised in coffee grounds, or my crab croquette crumble. I mean, it was palatable and interesting, but a little bit forced. About 35 Euros a person.

8. In the vicinity of the Tolbiac (I think) Metro stop in the 13th is Paris' "Chinatown", which is a bit of a misnomer because it seems to be more Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian there. I wandered into a banh mi joint and picked one up, which was a bit disappointing - I've had better in NYC's Chinatown, the spice being the main difference, although you could chalk this up to my language difficulties. I also got a nice pork roll to go somewhere else. Anyway, it looks like an interesting neighborhood for chowing.

9. The other true meal highlight - maybe the best, along with Fish and felafel - was Aux Cutes du Carbot at 31, Rue de Vignoles near the Avron Metro stop in the 20th, a decidedly non-touristy neighborhood and restaurant. Food from the Antilles (Guadeloupe, more specifically). Ohhhhh. So good. We got fish croquettes as an appetizer with an incredibly spicy sauce, a great crab appetizer, and I got "rousse pork" (you can tell I was relishing the treyf on this trip), which tasted a bit like jerk, but it was different and evidently had been stewed to great heights of tenderness. Some of the other dishes I tried were more familiar to those of us who live in, say, Brooklyn (curry goat, e.g.) and were good. Topped off with a banana flambe and rum cake. So so good. About 25 Euros a person (with wine, of course).

10. When we inquired about Moroccan food, some Parisians recommended "404", on Rue de Gravilliers in the 3rd. A disappointment; it was like Moroccan food for white people. Also, we went to Morocco itself last year. Expensive. Don't bother.

11. I had to try the fabled ice cream at Berthillon in Ile De Saint Louis. As good as the hype. I got a white chocolate cone. Yum!

12. We had an interesting meal at Aux Petits Chandeliers, on 62 Rue de Daguerre near the Denfret-Rochereau Metro stop in the 14th. This was cuisine from Reunion (Reunionian?), an island in the Indian Ocean near Africa that is still a French colony. The food is a mix of Indian and African. THe best was the appetizer course; we had something called achard, a pickled-cabbagey-type thing. I got a shrimp curry dish, which was pretty good, and we also had a masala dish that was good. Mango sorbet for dessert, and wine; about 25 Euros/person.

13. Finally, to a bistro: Au Porcain, at 10 bis Rue de Servandoni in the 6th. I had a nice but underwhelming duck breast, and my dining companion had a better escargot dish and a really good foie gras dish. About 24 Euros a person (without wine!!)

Anyway, the trip was great even for non-food reasons.

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