We picked August 10-18 to travel with the kids (boys ages 8 and 5) this summer. We splurged and bought airfare to Paris from northern CA, and who knew that Parisians often take summer vacations and close their businesses in August due to heat waves? All the very best restaurants we were hoping to try based on David Lebovitz’s web site are closed during our stay. Crestfallen and desperate, we are trying to visit any remaining recommendations on his list that are open regardless of whether or not the descriptions catch our fancy.
Interestingly, there is no heat wave and the weather is perfect, highs in the mid 70’s all week.
Tonight, tired from jet lag after arriving this afternoon, we tried to go to the falafel place he recommended (L’As du Fallafel, 34 rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris, France). It ended up being closed for vacation, so we walked to Miznon (22 rue des Ecouffes, 75004 Paris, France) nearby, another of David L’s recs, and dined happily.
Miznon serves Israeli inspired middle eastern food. We loved the food. Lamb stuffed cabbage rolls, ratatouille, a ‘potato salad’ sandwich, and a roasted head of cauliflower that was simple and remarkable.
In the middle of our meal the server (who was more of a food runner since you order at the counter and wait for your food to arrive at your table) came to the table and told us that we needed to remove the paper bag with our 2 pain au chocolate from the table. We bought them from a Hebrew speaking bakery a block or so away as my wife needed to use the WC and we wanted to patronize the establishment. She had placed the closed paper bag on the table only to store the purchases since we had just walked from there, not to eat them in the restaurant. Maybe she recognized the logo of the bakery and guessed the contents?
The waitress was annoyed. She said, “you need to take these off the table because this is a kosher restaurant and these contain milk.” I said “milk?” To which she replied “they look to be pastries which contain butter.” Embarrassed we put them in my wife’s purse. We thought she might have suspected we were going to eat ‘outside food’ in their restaurant, which we were not. My wife just put them on the table without thinking since she was carrying them in her hand from the block before, as a place to keep them during our meal.
I felt as though I had brought meat into a vegan restaurant. Though my wife (and I suppose our children by proxy?) is ethnically Jewish, she wasn’t raised Jewish and doesn’t know any of the rules. The next part bugged us more, though. At the end of the educational scolding, the waitress asked my wife her name, which my wife gave. The waitress didn’t offer her own name in return, but just walked away. We think she was trying to place our religious background (Jewish vs Muslim) since we look clearly middle eastern. We are neither, it turns out.
In any case, you can’t prove anyone’s intentions. However, we interpreted this as mild anti-Muslim energy. We are privileged not to be exposed to prejudice in our daily lives, but it was informative to taste a bit of its bitterness alongside our otherwise delicious meal. I recommend Miznon for the food. I wish the waitress becomes more accepting of all of the human family and more tolerant of those ignorant of kosher law. We didn’t know the restaurant holds patrons to these standards, and we clearly don’t know the standards themselves, but out of respect for my Jewish brethren (and children?!?) I will be sure to learn them so as not to offend again elsewhere.
On our walk there, we had coffee at Partisan Cafe Artisanal (36 rue de Turbigo, 75003 Paris, France). The coffee here was **outstanding**, on par with my favorite places in Seattle. I ordered a Caffe Latte, though I’m usually an Americano drinker (I’m on vacation so why not splurge on calories). They use a high end modern espresso machine with pressure profiling capability and excellent coffee grinders and perhaps most important the baristas seem to be well trained in all steps of espresso making. I highly recommend this outstanding coffee house. Unfortunately for us, the day we arrived is their final day open before closing for the rest of August for their summer break. This is so far the best ‘worst’ week in Paris ever.
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