leave your inhibitions at the door
When people talk about the food being fantastic in Paris, it’s not just at the fancier restaurants. As I mentioned in my other Paris post, our lunches were mostly fast food – or at least their version of fast food. That meant crepes, grilled sandwiches, quiches that had fresh ingredients and lotso flavor. You know, the exact opposite of Arby’s here in the U.S.
But what about the restaurants in-between? How was the food at normal neighborhood restaurants that didn’t cost un bras et une jambe? (That’s an arm and a leg to you and me)
I’m glad you asked. Or I asked. Whatevs.
The last time I was in Paris I had a great meal at Chez Denise, just north of the Louvre near Les Halles. I had read about it in a New York Times article that came out a couple days before I went back then. Great timing.
I knew I wanted to go back to it and it just so happened we had plans to be in that area one night. Great timing, part 2.
Chez Denise is clearly an old-school place with zero pretense. It’s loud and lively with tables that have diners packed together like sardines.
Speaking of sardines, the décor may not have changed since the 1970s
Mini-me was originally facing that picture and he asked I switch with him. He was in utter disbelief that it would be displayed in public like that. The little prude.
Perhaps even more shocking to him was the men’s toilet, which definitely hasn’t changed since the 1970s.
What We Ate
There weren’t any menus there, only hand-written chalkboards. That’s always a good sign. (Damn right that pun’s intended)
What’s a French dinner without some foie gras?
I had the Onglet de Boeuf, which I originally thought was hangar steak topped with sautéed shallots, but it may have been flank steak. Doesn’t matter, it was amazing.
Boom Boom had the haddock
It was a bit salty side, but still good. Mini-me had the most amazing salmon dish which I, of course, can’t find a picture of.
One of the girls had Brochette d’onglet de Boeuf, which was also excellent.
Those religions that forbid people from consuming pork often refer to it as the meat of the cloven-hoofed animal. I wonder what they’d say about eating pied de porc – the actual cloven hoof?
I had it last time and it was dynamite. My other daughter ordered it this time around. It’s a pain in the ass to eat, but the tenderness and crispy skin made it all worthwhile.
And of course, no meat-laden meal would be complete without some frites…
Ok, more than just some…
What We Drank
While they had a bar and several other options, there were a few barrels of Brouilly so it seemed that was the way to go. Although it’s part of Beaujolais, this wine was nothing like the usual fruity and light wines of the region. It was still easy-drinking, but had more than enough heft to pair well with the beef.
Being in that place – with the old décor and lively atmosphere, mingling with neighbors, drinking house wine, and eating great food – really gave me the sense that this is what dining in Paris is all about.
So yeah, not only was a mid-level restaurant good, it was freakin’ fantastic.