From Saturday March 17 – Wednesday March 21. We stayed at a small boutique hotel in the 9th, Hotel Aston. It was OK, nothing special but fairly centrally located. Saturday night, first dinner in Paris. Wanted a relatively early evening, we reserved for 7:30 at Juveniles Wine Bar 47 Rue de Richelieu 75001. Read some nice reports online and they were all spot on.
Started with the tapenade and crostini Ron which were both delicious and large portions. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of French and Italian white wine with the starters. Mains were also really good, magret duck breast was done a perfect medium rare, came with potato gratin and a small bibb lettuce salad. DW had the pork chop, also came with the potato gratin and salad. With dinner we had a nice bottle of Spanish red wine that came recommended to us.
We were stuffed but decided to share the assortment of glace which were vanilla, caramel and gingerbread. All were excellent, my favorite was the caramel which had a nice burnt note to it. A nice start to our Paris visit
Second night (Sunday) we had dinner at Café des Musees 49 Rue Turenne 75003. We were looking forward to having steak frites and were not disappointed. Started with mixed vegetable salad with warm goat cheese and a selection of sliced sausages. We shared and thoroughly enjoyed both.
Mains were the steak frites which came perfectly medium and medium rare and with a heaping plate of crispy frites. The steak came with béarnaise sauce and a small salad. The steak was flavorful and tender. Washed everything down with a bottle of 2009 CdR which went well with all the protein we had.
Too full for dessert, maybe next time. They offer a 3 course prix fixe which at 22 euros is quite a bargain. Service was very helpful, especially considering my French which is virtually nonexistent.
Monday was a “free” night and as we were beat from touring the Louvre and Notre Dame we headed back to Juveniles which we enjoyed and it was a short walk from our hotel.
Starters were that eggplant tapenade and sautéed chorizo. A yum start. DW went with the cheese plate, a good portion of four different cheeses. I went for the three course menu of the evening which started with the chorizo already mentioned and duck leg confit with roasted potatoes and a small salad. Duck was moist and flavorful. My meal came with a piece of cheesecake and DW had the trio of vanilla, caramel and gingerbread glace. A bottle of 2009 Crozes Hermitage finished off a very nice evening.
Tuesday brought a whole new level of dining. We had a 7:30 reservation at Les Papilles 30 Rue Gay-Lussac 75005 and it exceeded our expectations in every way. It is a cute clean specialty goods shop as well as a restaurant. There is a 4 course menu that changes daily. Everything, from the presentation, service and food was excellent. First course was a creamy rich potato leek soup served in a huge tureen and we poured it over crème fraiche, chives, leeks, bacon and croutons. Wonderful start. Second course, slowly braised lamb shoulder served in a copper pot along with baby potatoes, whole peas, carrots, crushed tomatoes and garlic. Hearty, delicious and filling. Third course was cheese, a wedge of brie served with caramelized onions, topped with chives and served with a bright red spice that had some savory notes. $th course was a tasty dessert. Banana panna cotta was topped with caramel foam and was the perfect ending to an excellent meal. We had a bottle 2009 red from the south that paired with everything. Very welcoming service, especially by the manager who took the time to explain everything. The 4 course menu at 33 euros is excellent value.
Lunch Wednesday after walking, touring and shopping the Marais area was Breizh Café, 109 Rue Vielle du Temple 75003. Needed to get a crepe before leaving Paris so wife and I split a galette with Andouille, gruyere and a sunny side up egg and for dessert we split a crepe with chocolate, caramelized almonds and Chantilly cream. Also had a couple glasses of cider which are a specialty here. Crepes were fine and hit the spot for lunch.
Our final dinner Wednesday evening was L’Ami Jean, 27 Rue Malar 75007. We wanted to go out with a bang and chose the 5 course tasting menu. Was not able to take notes but each course was very very good. My simple description does not do the meal justice. Course 1 was a rich creamy vegetable soup. Course 2 was mackerel that was wrapped with zucchini and topped with bacon. Course 3 was hake with peppers and a spicy foam emulsion. Course 4 was roasted pigeon with a generous piece of foie gras, with lentils in au jus gravy with a side of mashed potatoes. Course 5 was the rice pudding with a side of caramel cream that was just awesome. Everything you have heard about the rice pudding is true and then some. We also were served a banana rum dessert and a kiwi based frozen dessert with brown sugar that was also excellent. We enjoyed a 2009 Cotes du Rhone with the feast.
During our stay we also stopped at several patisserie and chocolate shops and had an assortment of pastries and macaroons. All were excellent. One in particular that had lines out the door all day is Jullian Patisserie 85 Rue Saint Dominique in the 7th.
In summary, each meal was different and excellent on its own. If we had to pick a couple favorites they would be Les Papilles and L’Ami Jean. We walked practically everywhere, used the metro a few times when tired and it is very easy to navigate.
A couple last notes, people were incredibly friendly and understanding of my very limited French (words not sentences). Lastly, we mainly had 8:00 pm or 7:30 pm reservations due to the jet lag factor. If you arrive 5 minutes or so early, you will likely find a near empty restaurant and you get the “best” seats in the house which is often slightly away from others. You avoid getting crammed or dining elbow to elbow. Worked very well for us. Paris is a great city and we hope to get back there soon. Sorry for the long rambling report.