Monday, September 14, 2009
On to restaurants...here are a few that I was lucky enough to dine at plus a few that are highly recommended by others that I didn't get a chance to!
France really isn't for vegetarians; I find it a challenge to find totally meat free dishes while trying to dine with abandon(eating around the meat has become a bit of a norm). For those who prefer meals untainted by meat, salads, pastas, pizzas and soups will be your staples. There are also a small number of vegetarian restaurants I noted wandering the streets...I will highlight places I got a completely meat free meal...
One of my favourite aspects of culture and exploration of other cultures is that surrounding our food choices and norms. Most interesting in France is the utmost respect for good food and dining - and they manage to have such without the slightest hint for our North American excess. This is an excess which they notably detest and it might be best when in France not to note the "small" portion sizes :) For those of you used to dining at the Cheesecake Factory, take note! The portion sizes in France are the ones we should be eating...and with the quality of food here, bursting with flavour, you might be surprised to find yourself completely satisfied!
Should you find yourself wandering the streets of Paris, it is important to know that meal service is at very definite times - lunch is generally 12:00 - 2:00 and dinner from 7:00 - 9:00 or 10:00. Try and get a meal outside those times and you might find yourself with a closed restaurant or only a crepe at a restaurant with "service continue"(see my previous post for good street food options).
Meal times are to be enjoyed at a leisurely rate, with good wine and conversation. The French also strongly believe in the multicourse menu and the Menu or Formule is a 2 or 3 course which is also usually the freshest and the best deal. Amazingly, because of the proper portions, you can leave a 3 course meal here about the same degree of stuffed as after a single main course at home. Also nice, you can get demi bouteilles of wine. Your own bottle...just half the size. Very civilized at lunch ;)
So, on to the restaurants...
1. Les Cocottes 135 rue St Dominique 7th arr (Metro: Ecole Militaires) http://www.leviolondingres.com/eng_cocottes.htm This restaurant from chef Christian Constant is a chic take on French comfort food. The "cocotte" is a pot...stuffed with delicious French home cooking. They even offered a young vegetable pot that tasted of the freshest "pulled from the ground" peas, carrots and new potatoes. A must have is the fabulous tart or la fabuleuse tarte. Yup, its pretty fantastic...and it's chocolate.
2. Au Pied de Cochon 6 rue Coquillier (Metro: Chatelet Les Halles) http://www.pieddecochon.com/index.php?lang=en This restaurant is pretty legendary in Paris...it boasts that it has not closed its doors since it opened in 1947 and there may not even be a key to those doors. The place is open 24 hours and it is classic Paris bistro. Not for the meat timid...I had to push aside the Chicken in my salad.
3. Higuma 32 rue Ste Anne 1st arr (Metro: Pyramides) I found this Japanese ramen shop in the Paris Shopping Guide that the tourist info centres provide. It is super close to the Louvre and is pretty well stocked with locals...which is always a good sign. The Yasai Ramen is the vegetarian choice. Nothing beats a bowl of noodles (yes, Connie!) to restore your energy after a long slog on the pavement.
4. I also had a lovely meal at a restaurant near the Sacre Coeur...I will ask my Parisien friends the name so I can let you all know about it.
A few restaurants that I found highly recommended but didn't get a chance to visit...
1. Chez Janou 2 rue Roger Verlomme (near the Bastille)
2. Zoe Bouillion 66 rue Rebeval (in Belleville)
3. Lao Siam 49 rue Belleville (in Belleville)
4. La poule au pot 9 rue Vauvilliers (at Les Halles)
I am not sure if my next hotel will have wi-fi...so stay tuned for my notes from Provence and Cote d'Azur!