While good barbecue is available at The Beast, you don’t really go to Paris to eat barbecue. There are thousands of good and truly great restaurants in Paris, and many good resources for helping you decide which to try. It can be a trick to match your preferred restaurants with the place you are staying and the various sites you are visiting. The best resource I have found is John Talbott’s “other” blog (he does Paris by Mouth), http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com. Two things I especially like about the site are that it is organized by arrondissement (see the left side of his main page) so that you don’t have to spend time trying to locate a one-block street, say the Rue des Mauvais Garcons, on your woefully inadequate map to see what part of Paris the restaurant is in. And he gives you full details of the meal -– exactly what was ordered by each diner and, importantly, exactly what the meal cost. That can help you avoid unpleasant surprises. Oh — and he also provides the decibel level, but then I have never eaten in a Paris restaurant that approaches normal US decibel levels
I will post some suggestions from our latest trip, some of which were planned and some serendipitous. Here’s the first installment.
Near the Louvre: La Regalade
If you go to Paris you absolutely have to do two things: go to the Louvre and eat at La Regalade. We ate at the one near the Port d’Orleans last trip and it became my favorite Paris restaurant. This time we ate at the second and much closer branch, which is on St. Honore not too far from the Louvre.
Try to avoid going toward the end of the lunch of dinner hour. One of the signatures of La Regalade is the communal terrine of pate that they give you when you sit down as a sort of appetizer — an amuse bouche on steroids.
You spread some on a piece of bread or two, and when the next customers come in, the staff takes the terrine away and gives it to that table. Very nice. If you arrive near the end of lunch or dinner, however, there may be no additional customers, in which case the staff will simply leave it at your table. It just sits there, acting all delicious and crying out to be eaten with a persistence and persuasiveness that you simply cannot ignore. And you respond until saved by your first course. I had garlicky pasta in squid ink with shrimp, ham and garlic chips.
O doux Jesus! It was fabulous. And squid ink washes right out of a shirt. For my main, I had roasted pork breast (skin on) over a lovely spiced carrot puree with julienned fennel.
Pork breast basically is pork belly (think bacon) next to the ribs (think ribs). And the skin was perfectly crisped. Let’s pause a minute to think about that.
It was delicious. Nancy had a chicken stuffed with the house pate over sprig vegetables. Lovely, isn’t it!
Nancy, alas, did not like the slight liver flavor from the pate, and any hint of liver is anathema to Nancy. I thought it was delicious, but I suppose it offers a good lesson: if you don’t like liver –- even to the point of actively avoiding foie gras! -– you have to maintain a state of constant vigilance in Paris.
For dessert, get the rice pudding. Don’t argue, just order it. It comes in a large tureen and you are confused. No one, you think, could possibly eat it all. Wrong. La Regalade has realized the Platonic ideal of rice pudding. The highly touted (and also huge) serving of rice pudding at Chez L’Ami Jean is a mere shadow to La Regalade’s. It is perfect in itself, but also comes with a side dish of excellent caramel sauce that you can add if you’re in the mood to gild the lily — or taste separately if you’re not. Nancy absolutely loved it.
The formule at La Regalade — entree, plate, desert — was 39 Euros, up from 32 a couple of years ago and above what I like to spend, especially at lunch. But then the Euro had dropped from $1.45 to $1.12 (Yes!), so I was happy to play ducks and drakes with my money for a truly sensational meal. Go there!