Restaurants & Bars

Paris Report: Marais, Baby - Bistros (long)

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Paris Report: Marais, Baby - Bistros (long)

bernalgirl | Nov 9, 2005 07:15 PM

I think I got all the keywords in that subject line. First, thanks for the great tips before we left. We had glorious weather and a really fantastic time. A lot of our expectations about how we would dine with a baby were shifted almost as soon as we got there, but we had a great trip, and great chow, nonetheless.

We almost never ate breakfast out, preferring instead to enjoy the bounty of the local markets and boulangeries. And rather than long lunches, we found ourselves grabbing salads and sandwiches so that we could see something of the day around the baby’s nap schedule. We enjoyed early dinners at casual bistros, and were universally warmly received. FWIW, the baby is 9 mos and eats quite a lot of what we eat sitting in a portable booster seat we brought along, after reports that few places have high chairs. And she isn't loud (yet?).

This is going to be a long report so I will break it into pieces so it's easier to find what you might be interested in. Bistros to start...

Le Caveau de L'Isle (36, Rue St. Louis en L'Isle): Our first dinner. The 3-course menu was nicely presented and service was good, but the food didn’t wow us. It wasn't bad, just unremarkable. Also, they erred in putting us downstairs where people were enjoying an intimate evening rather than upstairs where there were already many tables with kids.

Le Dôme Bastille (2, rue de la Bastille near rue Saint-Antoine, across from Bofinger, 75004): They couldn’t have been nicer about the baby, tucking us into a corner table for our early dinner, and preparing a special plate of sautéed courgettes for her (which we nibbled and enjoyed). She also enjoyed pumpkin soup and some of our delicious skate wing. This place gave me an idea of what Alice Waters was trying to achieve in the early days of Chez Panisse, nothing was overwrought or even particularly fancy, but everything was well and simply prepared. The skate wing with steamed potatoes and a parsley-shallot-caper sauce absolutely sang to us, the grilled sardine starter was fresh and delicious, and the Coquilles St Jacques with pork belly, figs and spinach was a delight of flavors and textures. Desserts were fine, but I failed to note them. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Au Bascou (38, Rue Réaumur, 75003) did not disappoint. Once again we were tucked into a corner table with the baby, this time in the window, where people would flirt with her on coming and going. We enjoyed: the piperade and Piments d'Esplette stuffed with salt cod, a lamb axoas, and cod with sweet tomato and pepper. Baby couldn’t do three courses so we skipped dessert and grabbed a boule on the way home.

Les Fables de la Fontaine (131, rue Saint-Dominique 75007): We chose it because we could sit outside, and we weren’t in the mood for the more traditional La Fontaine de Mars next door. Our server loved having a baby at the table, she consulted with the kitchen and brought us a beautiful plate with a simple piece of roast cod and three perfect pipings of carrot and fennel mousseline for her. We enjoyed: smoked haddock terrine, a shrimp and artichoke gratin, red mullet a la planche, roasted scallops and a nice chestnut pie. We would return.

Le Vieux Bistrot (14 r du Cloitre Notre Dame, 75004): Fine but not overwhelming. Everything was good although it seemd butter-drenched. The best and worst were the apps, a divine salad featuring a hot filo pocket of boudin noir cancelled out an odd salad of sardines with inedibly large scales still clinging to their bodies. The entrecote and sea bass en papillote were both good if not remarkable. The pear tartin dessert was very nice.

La Rose de France (24, place Dauphine, Ile de la cite 75001): A real find, we stopped for drinks and charcuterie, and stayed for dinner because it all looked good and interesting (in spite of the horrible name). It was. We enjoyed: a savory clafouti seasoned with Roquefort and black pepper, a salad of duck gizzards, breast and foie gras, duck with a pain d’epices sauce, a roast sea bass, and a mango dessert called a “medallion du mangue a canelle,” but my French isn’t great so I didn’t expect what was essentially a mango coulis (with vanilla ice cream). The food overall was very good, and big on flavor. And the outdoor tables on the place Dauphine were irresistible. I would return.

Page 35 (4, rue du Parc Royal, 75003): I’d been wanting to try this place in our neighborhood, we had simple lunch here but noticed the menu -- everything looked delicious and prices were reasonable. We enjoyed wonderful composed salads and dessert crepes, and the interesting wine list. Perhaps not a destination, but a great place to stop if you’re visiting the Musee Picasso.

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