Thursday 21 August 2014

Restaurant Reviews: Paris

I love Paris in the spring time/

I love Paris in the fall/

I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles/

I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles

I visited Paris in the spring on a work assignment; it was the first time I had been for about ten years. I had an overnight stay so after I finished in the office I went sightseeing, and decided to take a trip on a bateau mouche - a pleasure boat on the Seine. I figured that was the best way to see several things at once and the guided commentary would be interesting; I've visited several museums and the main sites like the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur etc on previous trips, but I couldn't remember whether I had been on a bateau mouche before or not.

Amuse-bouche: duck pate

I alighted after an interesting couple of hours near the Eiffel Tour (albeit on the other side of the river) and wandered along the Avenue Georges V and took a side street or two until I found a restaurant I liked the look of, called Chez Andre. I wondered afterwards if I had subconsciously chosen it because I was in Paris for work and my boss's name is Andrew! The main reason though was that the restaurant had a good menu, wasn't too expensive and looked quite cosy inside.

Cosy wasn't the word for it -  most of the tables were arranged around the edge of the room, with a long table for a larger group in the middle, and the waitress had to pull out the table so I could get in to sit on a banquette, and then push the table back, effectively trapping me. Not ideal if you want to get out to use the bathroom!
Starter: toasted mozarella

Chez Andre describes itself as a traditional French brasserie and was opened in 1936 - "and has kept the same feel it had back then". That's not to say the decor is dated; it is quite traditional though, but one thing that particularly appealed is that I had the impression many of the diners were regulars and locals (they seemed to know other people in the restaurant, and the staff) rather than business travellers or tourists.

I was brought an amuse-bouche of pate on the house and had a starter of mozarella parcels that were delicious but very rich. I then ordered the half roast chicken with French fries; the chicken was moist and fell off the bone and it was a pretty filling meal just right after a long day's working and sightseeing. For dessert I knew right away that I wanted the floating island, having tried to make this dish with limited success in the past. The soft meringue in a shallow bowl of custard is probably something of an aquired taste; very sugary with a caramel sauce on top adding to the sugar rush and nice but not something I would be in a hurry to order again. I have a very sweet tooth but couldn't finish it (though perhaps that was down to the size of my main course as much as the overt sweetness).
Main course: half roast chicken with French fries (or just fries, as they probably call them here!)

The staff in the restaurant were helpful, offering an English menu (though I do speak French, they could clearly tell I was a foreigner) and when I had paid the bill, the waitress pulled out the table again to allow me to leave - I had been a bit worried they might forget and I'd either be trapped in my seat or forced to move it myself and no doubt knock something over!

This restaurant is something of a hidden gem, only a stone's throw from the luxury shops on the Avenue Georges V and the Alma-Marceau tube station (used by a lot of tourists for the bateaux mouches and the Eiffel Tower) but tucked down a side street away from the hustle and bustle.

Dessert: floating island with caramel sauce

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