I've been enjoying reading about what to eat in London. Everyone raves about food in Paris but what makes it so good? What should we be trying at the cafes? Your favorites?
Cafes are not about haute cuisine. They feature standard items such as magret de duck (canard). Restaurants serve the exemplary meals. The French menu begins with a foundation of cuts of meat, schedule of sauces and precisely prepared vegetables. The chef works from that standard and then mixes in her/his own inspiration.
In addition to all of the good cafes, I second the idea of a picnic lunch (or dinner). There is absolutely nothing as good as a fresh baguette with sliced fresh tomatoes, sliced or creamy cheese, various sliced meats or a rich pate. Make sure to buy something sweet or maybe some fresh fruit to finish the meal. Wash this down with a bottle of wine I suggest doing this in one of the great parks, such as the Jardin de Luxemborg or along the Seine. In every neighborhood in Paris there are great meat and vegetable markets, fromageries, bakeries, patisseries and wine shops....then you can afford to spend a little more for a great dinner.
Eating in Paris: You don't have to spend a lot of money to eat in Paris. Most of my meals in Paris are had doing what the last two posts suggested for $10 or $15 per person. But for someone who wants to splurge and try a "good Paris restaurant", here's a thought: Instead of relying on a recommendation from someone who doesn't know anymore than we do (none of us here are experts on Paris restaurants), take the 10 minutes to identify one of the 60 or so Michelin one-star restaurant, and make reservations for lunch; have the fixed price lunch menu and even in 2008 you can have that experience for roughly $75 per person. I've never done it but the next time I'm in Paris, I'm treating my wife to a lunch at a genuine one-star restaurant, just to see what it's like. And then I'll go back to buying crepes or picnic fare at the Monoprix, and probably enjoy that just as much, in a different way.
Kent -- you should definitely do the Michelin star restaurant, just to have a top-of-the line Parisian dining experience. Paris is ground zero for fine dining. I think you will get your money's worth and enjoy it, but will also see that it really is just as much fun to eat in the regular cafes and restaurants.
I agree with the specifics of the previous posts.. and am myself by no means a food expert - but one of my favorite things in Paris was the banana nutella crepe. My boyfriend and I are on a constant mission to find a suitably comparable one here in Portland, but to no avail.
Another favorite thing was going to the market to compile a picnic lunch - specifically buying and trying an assortment of tiny cheeses.
And of course french onion soup! Enjoy your trip!
Assiette de Salad (variety of french salad mixture)
Soup - any soup - always fresh - gazpacho with goat cheese - onion
Venture out here try something new - France eats lots of lamb, veal, quail, cornish game hen, chicken
Fish - fish - fish St Jacques (traditional dish - sea scallops yum) - poached salmon with a cream sauce -
Try a baked chicken - simple fresh wonderful
Medallion of lamb - with any sauce - plum etc
Assiette de fromage (cheese plat)
Chocolat et poire (warm cholocate sauce with a cooked pear)
Tarte aux pomme (the real apple pie)
Anything with Chantilly (you will never think Cool Whip again)
There is so much I could say and so little room.
Yes yes get a crepe - dessert or lunch - Nutella and banana of course - but how about Ham and cheese - ohh la la
Croissant - sure - but you really want pain au chocolat (croissant with chocolate inside)
Beignet - French version of a filled donut
Hungry now? I am...
For my main meal, at mid-day, I usually eat at a Chinese deli. Breakfast is at my hotel or from the bakery plus an expresso at a bar. Late in the afternoon I get something at the bakery or grocery store. Fruit from a produce store completes my nutrition pyramid. Crepes, onion soup, and an occasional plat du jour can also be found on my menu. One of the great things about the food in Paris is that it looks so good. These are people who respect food and eating.
... copy and paste, one at a time, the above links into your Internet address box. When you have Tom's Guide to Paris home page on your screen, click on the icon "Eating". If you still have questions, contact Tom by email and ask. Just click on "Contact Me".
... Monkey Chef looks like a nice change of pace from the more expensive cuisine available elsewhere...
... bon appétit ... P
croque monsieur and croque madame - I had another wonderful sandwich like the croque monsieur but with roasted potatos - delicious. Had some good duck dishes. At Tribeca on Rue Cler I had a great club sandwich (smoked salmon and egg salad). We did not eat at any fancy restaurants in Paris - we were there in February with our 8 year old and ate at cafes and sat outside under the heaters. I loved France - I love a good sandwich/salad and they had lots of those.
I love dining in Paris cafes. I order omlettes, crepes, croque Monsieur. I also love salad Nicoise, steak & frites, duck confit, and rillettes (a pork pate -- they serve a very nice one at Pied Au Couchon), onion soup, rotisserie chicken, and all the cheese. I stay away from andoulille (tripe sausage), snails, and foi gras -- but these are hightly popular items also.
The walk-away sandwiches and crepes you see all over town are pretty good. As of course is all the pastry and chocolate. Don't miss Berthillon ice cream, and Angelina's hot chocolate.
I recently bought the 2007 edition of Michelin "Guide Rouge" and am going by what it says in that book, which I understand to be relied on as pretty authoritative in France (the Michelin folks have been rating French restaurants for about a hundred years now). When I just now took a close look at the 2007 Michelin "Red Guide" it turns out that the "average" price per person of a "typical" Paris 1-star is more like $100 to $150 per person. There are about 60 1-star restaurants in all of Paris, 13 2-star, and 10 3-star, in 2007, that's a total of about 80 to 85 restaurants in Paris with 1, 2, or 3 stars. Here's something that surprised me: all the other restaurants in Paris have NO stars. The red guide lists many of them and recommends them, but they don't have even one star. This also surprised me: The famous Tour d'Argent only has one Michelin star. One Michelin star is a big deal in Paris--whereas in the US if somebody says something is one star it usually means it's not good, but au contraire in Paris. Anyway, the famous Tour d'Argent 2007 "menu" dinner price is stated as €200/person, that's $320/person. Now I guess they they get more because of the name, but take another Paris 1-star: Auguste in the 7th was €50 to 70/person last year, say $100/person in 2008. Other one stars are about $100 to $150/person for a "typical" Paris 1-star. I also learned that in 2007 there were only 25 3-star restaurants in all of France (see posts below for more on 3-star restaurants).
For an idea on prices... My sister and I had the prix fixe lunch (which included appetizers, dessert) at Le Grand Vefour, a three star Michelin restaurant, last September. The total cost was $377.00. This included extra cost of a small bottle of wine and kir royales (made with Bollinger champagne) before dinner. Outrageous as this may seem, the total experience was wonderful--- food, service, ambiance -- and worth it, for a once in a lifetime experience. (though I'd love to go again!)
Since then, they have lost a Michelin star -- not sure if it has affected their prices!
The best thing about Paris is the food.
I love to sit in cafes, have a galss of rose and a croque madame--grilled ham and cheese with a fried egg. Hard to find the madame version. I also enjoy omelettes with the provided bread.
One of my favorite things is the one Rick says is boring--jambon with butter on a baguette. The ham is so great, and I hate to mess it up with crudites. And crepes, of course.
For dinner, I love to try pates and goat cheese tarts or anything that is a speciality of the house. Ang oysters--just wonderful.
Please don't forget ethnic food. Paris is home to millions of immigrants and some of them cook some of the best african, indian, chinese, sushi, etc food I have yet to find elsewhere.
I agree with Kent...do at least one Michelin one or two star restaurant in Paris....and if you plan it properly, you will select one in the Arrondissement where you will be staying (or at least one easily accessible by metro). I had the pleasure of dinning at Restaurant Pic in Valence before Sophie Pic earned her 3rd star...(she is the only female 3 star chef in all of the Michelin guides). It was a memorable experience and one she made more memorable by coming out of the kitchen at the end of the evening to talk to us about the meal and to ask us if everything was alright.
Chocolate Eclairs! They are sooooo incredibly good in France! Nothing like what you get here.
Being a librarian i suggest that you look at, not necessary to buy...Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten..lovelu photos and recipes plus a list of "if you're going to Paris"...not cheap destinations, but tastey and French. She also says for those really interested in food an excellent resource is Patricia Well's Food Lover's Guide to Pais....I agree, though my copy is out of date, and lost...
and just to let you know...foie gras is not on the daily family menus...it's a treat for holidays and celebrations...
Crepes!!! I plan on eating a minimum of 1 crepe per day - and hopefully much more on my upcoming trip. Of course I will try some other items too :)
Pain au chocolat is also very good. Also if you stumble upon a Moroccan restaurant I would try that too.
Lots of good Algerian restaurants just south east of Place S. Michel (Metro St Michel)...they serve the same cous cous dishes as we find here in our Moroccan restaurants.
What to eat in Paris? Everything you can get your hands on! ;-) Besides those yummy things already mentioned, I enjoyed kir (apertif) and fromage blanc (dessert). I also enjoyed playing "menu roulette" by ordering things that I had no idea what they were until they arrived at my table.
Don't miss the macaroons at LADUREE. In fact don't miss Laduree!!!! They have several locations: on the rue Bonaparte in the 6th, on the Champs Elysees and on the rue Royal near the Madeline. I believe they are in one of the 2 large dept stores as well.
These are no macaroons like you have ever had.
Favorite dishes are wintry ones: Cassoulet and Choucroute Garni. The last is mainly sauerkrat with all kinds of meat/sausages on top. This is sauerkrat like you have never eaten..fabulous I don't eat sauerkrat in the US but this is fabulous. It is an Alsatian dish and if you have it for lunch, you won't need dinner! Had it at the Brasserie L'Ile St. Louis,,just over the little bridge from Notre Dame where the accordionist is.
This is all making me very hungry. There is also a pastry called the Sacristan that I bought on Sunday morning..all almonds and butter and to die for.
of course it is sauerkraut!!!
Chez Gladines--bar none, the best I've had anywhere--if you're not a snobby American. It took awhile to find (used public transpo, always) and we were the only non-locals there. There was a wait and some people offered to share their wine with us as we watied outside. Got sat at big noisy tables across from each other with stangers on either side and loved, loved, loved it! Right down to the creepy bathroom in the cobweb-ridden basement, loads of steps down.
Chez Gladines--bar none, the best I've had anywhere--if you're not a snobby American. It took awhile to find (used public transpo, always) and we were the only non-locals there. There was a wait and some people offered to share their wine with us as we watied outside. Got sat at big noisy tables across from each other with stangers on either side and loved, loved, loved it! Right down to the creepy bathroom in the cobweb-ridden basement, loads of steps down. The escargot casserole (it's been awhile) was great and we should never have ordered more there as it was more than enough for to. I seem to remember the veal was a let down after the snails.
" what should we be trying in the cafes"' gee, maybe we could answer that question , as some of us really do not see the point of spending 300 dollars or more for lunch for two just to say we ate at a starred place.
As Jona suggested, they have some lovely salad composees, salads with a bunch of mixed cold veggies on top, a meal in themselves.
French onion soup, predictable , but still good.
Goat cheese ( cherve) salad , delish, and a favorite of mine.
Mussels, they do great mussels, don't think I hit one skunker in all the time I had mussels in Paris. They are smaller then we are used to , but so good.
Crepes, well these are best IMHO when purchased as a street food from a kiosk or cart. Ham , cheese and tomato is my favorite.
I also second that meats other then beef are a great choice, France does lovely veal, pork dishes, and various forms of poultry( try pintarde if you see it, similar to chicken but moister) .
Must try creme brulee, serveral cheeses, and
BREAD , which is so good in France.
With all the good bread you must try escargots, you must soak up the garlic butter!
Oysters , fresh and still kicking, I try to get to La Coupole for my osyter fix, but this summer I think I will return to Mollards,, yum.
Avoid " ris de veau" it is NOT RICE.. LOL.. I think it is veal pancreas or something equally glandular,, LOL
Ris de veau is veal sweetbreads, which is the thymus gland. They can be absolutely delectable--my daughter had them (in Paris, ironically) when she was nine and loved them. I suspect if she had been older, she might have passed them up because of our North American aversion to organ meats. Ah well, our loss...
I second Kent's suggestion that you visit a starred restaurant for lunch just to get a sense of what all the fuss about French cuisine is about. But only if you really enjoy food and cuisine. If you're just doing it to say you've done it, it's a waste of money. Here's a question: When you're planning to visit a place, how quickly do you ask "Where shall I eat?" If that question is high on your list as you plan, then food matters to you. If it's low on your list (or not there at all), then cuisine is a low priority and you probably should spend your splurge money on something else.
Here's a great website for food recommendations: www.chowhound.com. It's broken down by world regions, and the archives are filled with terrific suggestions. You can solicit advice as well (though searching first is a good idea, since most common cities like Paris have loads of posts already.) What I like about the Chowhound philosophy is that the posters love food--high end, low end, and even scary dives! The only criterion is--is it really, really good? So you will find excellent advice for every taste and budget. It's the first place I check when I am heading to a city where I can't answer the question, 'Where shall I eat?" Whether you're headed for Cleveland or Croatia, Chowhound will give you some ideas for memorable meals.
Parisian food seems to benefit from a great "trickle-down" effect. I can only imagine how wonderful the food must taste in a starred Michelin restaurant. But it seems that the mere presence of so many world-class restaurants have elevated the standards of everyone else, from the corner bistro, to the sandwich take-away counters. I can only think of one restaurant in the whole city that I know serves bad food- here's a hint, it starts with an "M" and ends with a "cDonald's".