I have had several friends who will be traveling over the next few months ask me about restaurants in Paris this week. Of course I have made my recommendations based on some of my favs (check out Paris Update: Adventures Through the City of Lights) – specifically Cafe de Flore, Les Deux Magots and Brasserie Lipp in St. Germain de Pres, L’assiette and La Closerie Des Lilas, to name only a few (believe me!). Oh! and just for the experience – the Café Procope, in rue de l’Ancienne Comédie. It is called the oldest restaurant of Paris in continuous operation – opened in 1686.
With this interest in food and travel lately, I was delighted when I saw the blog post from Conde Nast Traveler on their take on The 50 BEST Restaurants in Paris. The list ranges from the most grand French classic Michelin Star awarded restaurants, to the more modern and youthful bistros and brasseries. Are the restaurants on the list the BEST in a city that is undeniably the culinary capital of the world? Well… you, we, will just have to go and see!
Here are a few of my experiences dining in Paris mixed in with my favorites from Conde Nasts’s 50 Best list. Enjoy!
“There is a memorable story behind every beautiful dining experience!”
“This off-the-beaten-track restaurant near the Bastille serves a particularly good boeuf bourguignon.”
Restaurant Info: Chez Paul
I have never been a lover of Oysters or shellfish of any kind, but I have to tell you that when my friends Dominique and Philou took me to a little bistro in the St. Germaine area of Paris and MADE ME order Oysters, I was sold. Philou coached me: “Squeeze on the lemon, put the shell up to your mouth and suck!” They were so cold and fresh and delicious. Then, I had my first experience with Escargot, yep, over 40-years old and I had never touched the things. When my sister Judith and I sat down for lunch on the Seine River with a perfect view of Notre Dame, I could not resist ordering the French classic. When the dish of fresh Escargot sizzling in herbs and butter was set before me – I ate them all, digging every last tiny bite from their cute little shells. Just being in Paris? Maybe. Or maybe the French just know how to prepare and serve the most fresh Oysters and Escargot…ya think?!
“I love the seafood bar here. It’s by the team behind Septime, located just next door.”
Restaurant Info: Clamato
When in Paris I stay in the Saint Germain des Pres area. I have eaten quite regularly at a version of the local Brasserie – the infamous outdoor Paris cafe – there are hundreds! Just down the stairs and around the corner from my apartment was Cafe Le Buci. So Frenchly outfitted with the familiar rattan café chairs and petit tables all situated snugly under a red outdoor canvas awning. A perfect stage for people watching, to have impromptu conversations with strangers, get picked up by French men (ha!) and have a smoke (yes, everyone still smokes in Paris). My favorite fare for lunch was a salad with baked goat cheese crostinis, thin ribbons of fresh salmon topped with fresh lemon and drizzled in Olive Oil (or dipped in mayonnaise). Add toast points and a glass of wine and fini!
A funny story: I was packed and ready to get on a plane back to the United States, it was early (right at dawn) and I had time before I had to leave for the airport. Melancholy, tired and hungry, and needing espresso, I walked down to Cafe Le Buci to see if they were open. They were closed. I made the circle to see if anything was open yet, but nothing. As I am walking back by the cafe, I noticed the guys unloading food stuff from the truck and setting up the chairs outside, they were bustling around with activity so I thought I would make a bold move, and just see if I could get some coffee. I walked inside the cafe and went straight to the bar where the guys were cleaning and getting ready to open for business. I asked “I know it’s early, but is there any way I could get a cup of espresso?” They smiled and looked at each other, and then nodded, yeah, they could accommodate me. The chef appears and they all start talking to each other as if discussing what to do with me. The chef comes up to the bar and we have a very limited conversation, flirt a little and then voila! a few minutes later he delivers a scrumptious omelette with a fresh out of the oven croissant AND espresso! And no, I don’t speak French! ; ) It was my favorite breakfast of the trip!
“The long, gray winter is when one goes to La Brasserie de l’Isle Saint-Louis for choucroute garnie and a stein of beer.”
Restaurant Info: La Brasserie de l’Isle Saint Louis
On the list and on MY list is the Brasserie Lipp – a cozy and historic brasserie located on Boulevard Saint-Germain in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. The restaurant is one of several historical cafe’s in the area that are famous for the intellectual and artistic crowds they attract, including Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore. I was dining alone and so taken with the professionalism of the staff and their almost robotical way of working – of course I am snapping pics (I know, disgusting tourist!).
And did I mention that there are beautiful men there too? My waiter was very sweet and looked like Andy Garcia, so I quickly snapped this photo of him. He did NOT take too well to me taking photos, I kinda got in trouble. But when I offered to show him the photo I took of HIM, he was ok with that!!
Lesson learned in France – French dining is taken very seriously. When you go into a restaurant, cafe or brasserie, you are there to savour the food, drink, have intelligent conversations, relax, take your time and enjoy the experience. Something we need to learn here in the US!
“I had a clear sense that everything was correct in that particular French connotation of the word, meaning ‘done as things should properly be done.’ The feeling was something I’d now call a sense of civilization—an awareness of the continuity of meaning across time, of the inheritance of the past. I came to recognize the same feeling again when I tucked into trotters at Brasserie Lipp or showed up for late-night oysters at La Closerie des Lilas.”
Restaurant Info: Brasserie Lipp
One of my favorite places to stop for an afternoon “refreshment” is le Comptoir, right in the heart of Saint Germain area shopping. My sister Judith and I stopped there many times when we were working on our Secret Project – read it here: Secret Project Revealed.
“Yves Camdeborde helped define ‘new bistro cooking’ with dishes like roasted scallops in algae butter. A casual eatery by day, it reopens with white tablecloths and a prix fixe menu at night.”
Restaurant Info: Le Comptoir
Many culinary delights await you, interesting people to meet and inspiring places to visit, so be sure to stop and savour each single moment.
Take a minute to comment below and tell me what your favorite culinary experience was in Paris. And then check out the complete list with wonderful quotes and information on the individual restaurants – The 50 BEST Restaurants in Paris.