I can't even begin to imagine how so many of you manage to eat so many things in Paris. I am no willowy waif, believe me, and I can certainly overeat with the best of them. Or so I thought. But I was thoroughly undone by Paris. Don't get me wrong, we ate well and it was absolutely wonderful. But in 5 days we were unable to reach anywhere near the level of Chowhoundiness that so many of you apparently achieve. Here are our highlights - and one unforgiveable failure.
Directly off the Eurostar from London, our friends lead us across the street from Gare du Nord to a time warp of a brasserie - Terminus Nord - for lunch. Had I been alone, I would never have gone into this place - across the street from the station? Must be terrible. Wasn't. Had a delicious lunch - a starter of foie gras pate (ok, not the best of the trip, but still) followed by duck confit which was also not the best of the trip but it was a wonderful way to start our visit. My husband ordered the boulliabaisse which tasted fine but I wasn't so taken with the quality of the seafood in it. Who orders boulliabaisse in Paris? My husband, obviously. Whatever. That night we dined in our apartment on wine and cheese and sausage and bread and fruit that we picked up on Rue Mouffetard.
Next highlight was a dinner at Au Fil des Saisons - a sweet little bistro on a back street off Rue de Turbigo (not far from Place de la Republique). We all got the - I think it was - 30 euro menu (might have been 28). For starters my husband ordered the bone marrow and I ordered the foie gras (again). We traded halfway through. Both were delicious but the foie won the contest for me. I followed this with (yes, again) duck confit. Are you seeing a pattern here? It was fantastic. Came with a sort of gratin potato and I can't remember what else. Nor can I remember what my husband or my friends ordered. The cholesteral has already addled my brain by this point. We ordered the wine that the restaurant was highlighting that night - it was ok, but not wonderful and I can't remember what it was. Finally dessert. I ordered what turned out to be a molten chocolate cake with a salted caramel centre - delicious and definitely too much. But of course I ate it. And my husband ordered something they called Cafe Gourmand tres Gourmand (or close to that anyway). This was a selection of various things in little glasses - like mousses and creamy things. All delicious and rich. Our server was, I assume, the owner and he was hilarious and charming. We waddled home but the damage was done. I was starting to go downhill. I blame it on the dessert. Oh, and the marrow. And the duck. Not to mention the foie gras...
The next day we had reservations for lunch at L'Ami Jean. It was the only time we could get in. But in the morning, over coffee, we all looked at each other and we knew the horrible truth. We. Could. Not. Eat. Lunch. It was a difficult, yet unavoidable, decision. My husband and I went out to the Bastille market and my friend called to (weep, wail, gnash teeth) cancel the reservation. I bought us a rotisserie chicken with those wonderful potatoes, a bunch of fruit and some lovely stuff to make a salad for that evening's meal. Lunch consisted of I can't remember what. I can't say I regret making a dinner of market fixings, but I do sadly regret our lost opportunity for L'Ami Jean. Next time, I guess.
There were other bits and pieces along the way. I won't bore you with miscellaneous tidbits - Paris is so unbelievably full of delicious things to eat on every street, every corner. You don't need to be Vasco da Gama to discover a wonderful croissant or macaron or, for that matter, sandwich in that city. So I'll skip right to Chez Josephine Dumonet. Just the most wonderful place - as much for the ambiance as for the food. Both fantastic. We ended up sharing some starters and the dessert - a good decision. For starters we ordered the pate maison and an artichoke salad. Both were wonderful but the pate was outstanding. None of us could face the foie gras, as much as we would have loved to try it, since it is much lauded. But no regrets about the pate. I ordered (surprise!) the duck confit and my husband shared the bouef bourguignon with one of our friends. Everything was unbelievably delicious. This duck blew all others out of the water. And the bourguignon was murderously good. With the duck there were some addictive potatoes. For wine we ordered low on the list for financial reasons - but it was a good malbec that went well with everyone's meal. For dessert, we shared the Grand Marnier souffle - just a couple of spoonfuls each, but so delicious.
So there you have it. I thank the generosity of the Chowhound community for many of these recommendations. And I apologise for our failure to complete the mission to the standards of many of you on this board. I must say, you're an intrepid bunch of eaters. Next time I guess I'll have to go into training before a trip to Paris. But honestly, I can't imagine what that might consist of. The mind boggles.