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Paris report: Mon Vieil Ami, Les Pipos (with toddler)

Kelly | Jan 31, 201102:06 AM

Don't tell the child protective services, but we *just* got around to taking our 20-month-old son to Paris for the weekend.

It had been two years since we'd made the drive to Paris, so I spent a bunch of time combing this board to get myself up to date, and have a slew of new places I'd like to try...but most of them would definitely not be toddler-friendly. So for R's first venture, we stuck to a couple of tried-and-true options:

Les Pipos: Should be a lot more touristy than it is, given its location right behind the Pantheon (Rue de la Montagne de Sainte-Genevieve). But it's unpretentious and cozy, and my veloute de champignons, followed by boudin blanc aux morilles with puree de pommes de terre and compote de pommes, was perfect on a COLD day. My partner drew the short end of the straw here, as his soupe aux oignons was pale and anemic, and his fricassee de poulet fermier was distinctly overcooked. But the gratin of white winter veg (turnips, panais, cauliflower, potatoes) that came with it was yummy. Two glasses of wine, a coffee and a lait chaud brought the total to 50 euros.

Mon Vieil Ami: It seems that this resto has fallen out of favour on the board, if it was ever there to begin with. But we've been 4-5 times ahd have been unequivocally delighted every time...until now. The Sunday plat du jour, chou farci, did not tempt, so we went a la carte: pumpkin soup with a quenelle of creme fraiche and "tartare" of smoked haddock and then a salade de betteraves with curried chicken, followed by the 2-person "carottes aux agrumes avec poitrine de cochon caramelisee." And...meh. Everything seemed uninspired, and basic workmanship seemed to be lacking; my soupe was lukewarm at best, and would have benefited from a few trips through a tamis, and the pork was sadly overdone. The carrots, however, were gorgeous. Three glasses of a very nice Pinot Gris (G.Neumayer, "Le Berger" 2009) brought the total to 95 euros. Really not worth it, sadly. Time to strike out for new horizons.

After Mon Vieil Ami, we walked through the Marais and up Rue de Turenne to Jacques Genin's for coffee and dessert (and a couple of sachets of caramels au beurre sale to take home). A lovely space, light and airy. Obviously very popular in Japanese guide books. Partner had the degustation de 7 chocolats (nature, vanille, miel, pain d'epice, the au gingembre, something else and mint) with an espresso and I had a tarte aux pommes with a lait chaud. 27 euros, not counting the caramels. I wouldn't go again, though the caramels ARE lovely - the tarte was pedestrian, and the chocolates paled in comparison to Pierre Marcolini's here in Brussels.

Must say that lunching with a toddler wasn't as bad as I'd feared. My top tips would be: book for a noon lunch so that you can store the stroller in a corner without bothering anyone and get the pick of the tables (both restaurants had one wall of banquette seating with two-tops; perfect location is at the end of the banquette at the front of the resto -- so that the young'un can look out the window and have a bit of floor space to explore without deranging anyone). Add in a goodly supply of dried fruit and cereal, an etch-a-sketch and a small car -- and a willingness to overlook the finicky one's refusal to even TRY a mouthful of what YOU'RE eating -- and it all seemed to go well.

P.S. We got around the dinner issue (prime cranky time) by picknicking in our hotel room -- a slew of cheeses from Barthelemy; gorgeous pate de grand-mere and rillettes d'oie from Gilles Verot and a couple of Kayser baguettes, washed down with a '98 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru we brought with us. There are worse ways to spend an evening. :o)

At the top of the list to try on our next trip: Le Regalade St-Honore (if we're ever there during the week), L'Hedoniste, La Ferrandaise and Breizh Cafe.

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