Blai’s work brings him to Paris occasionally and earlier this month, he brought me along for the day (how romantic!). Our train arrived in Paris at 11:47 and for our lunch, I had searched for a restaurant near where Blai needed to be that afternoon. We selected Bistroy Les Papilles from this list – a little restaurant very close to the Pantheon with very good reviews online. Walking down the street, it’s a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it kind of place with its narrow storefront that, on that cold day, was entirely condensed over.

We didn’t have a booking that lunchtime but there were a few spare tables, of which one we snagged. The place is extremely cute with its beautiful bar counter, its tiny tables and equally tiny kitchen in the back and lots of specialty goods that they sell and that I think they use in their food as well. There’s a menu at lunch and dinner that’s entirely fixed – it’s based on what’s good that day at the market. You can go for either the entree-plat-formage-dessert formule (35€) or just entree-plat or plat-dessert (28€).

The starter that day was a sweet potato soup with chorizo and croutons. A small tureen of the soup was brought to the table along with a bowl of diced sweet potato, chorizo, croutons, creme fraiche, fried parsley and piment d’espelette. This was just gorgeous – I’m not sure why I don’t order soup more often. The creamy sweet potato soup was fantastic with all the bits adding great textural contrast.

Sweet Potato, Chorizo, Croutons

The tureen was huge too! I reckon there was enough to refill that bowl twice over.

Sweet Potato Soup

The main that day was also brought to the table in a similar manner as the soup – in a large serving dish. This was magret de canard glazed with honey and spices and served with carrots, new potatoes, mangetout, tomatoes and thyme. Each serving was half a huge and tender duck breast and there were plenty of vegetables too – no leaving hungry here! And there was lots of bread to mop up all that delicious sauce. Fantastic stuff.

Magret de Canard

I ordered something different off a separate a la carte menu (only available at lunchtime): brandade de morue parmentière (20€).

Brandade

The salt cod puree had been toasted to a beautiful golden hue and was served with a fresh and perfectly dressed salad on the side.

Brandade

For dessert, we skipped the day’s option (pear pannacotta with caramel) and went with Gelée d’agrumes au campari, crème battue aux zestes (9€). This was a refreshing dessert with lots of citrus fruit segments but unfortunately, the jelly itself had not set. Still, it was pleasant.

Gelée d'agrumes

With coffee came some fantastic soft nougat – I’ve heard that they also sell the little sweet things they serve with their coffees. What a great way to sample their wares!

Cafe

It’s a gem of a place for a meal but it’s not cheap – this lunch for two (we were stuffed) came to about 70€. It’s a lovely treat though. If you’re extremely keen to dine there, do call ahead for a reservation – we saw them turn away many disappointed people after we arrived.

Bistroy Les Papilles
30 rue Gay Lussac
75005 Paris
France

Unbeknownst to us, our Paris hotel on rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud was a short distance away from lots of good eating. Our hotel’s free wifi was a great help, with a quick search finding us Astier, a very traditional French bistro, only a hop, skip and jump away. A reservation was made for our second night and off we went for our dinner date in this quaint red and white checked tableclothed restaurant. A four course set meal (starter, main, cheese, dessert) was on offer for €35 (with about 4 choices for each course, except cheese) and we both chose that. There’s also a choice of going a la carte as well as specials of the day on a separate chalkboard that can be had as part of the menu at a supplement.

My Harengs Marinés, Pommes Ratte en Vinaigrette first came as an empty plate and a bowlful of deliciously nutty potatoes in a tangy vinaigrette. The marinated herrings came separately in a huge terrine dish that was thunked unceremoniously next to me. I love these help-yourself dishes and I certainly did help myself but don’t worry, I didn’t clean out the communal herrings! The herrings were gorgeous – not at all fishy but almost meaty and the pickled pink peppercorns and onions that swam alongside them were so perfect with them.

Harengs Marinés

Pommes Ratte en Vinaigrette

Blai’s Caillette de Canard aux Herbes, Effilocheé de légumes, jus de viandes was slices of what appeared to be a fat sausage of duck on a bed of boiled green beans and it was delicious. It was a great start to the meal.

Caillette de Canard aux Herbes

For mains, a Pressé de Jarret de Veau Braisé, Légumes à la tomate et olives noires de Nyons was very tender and had very southern French flavours – fresh tomatoes, olives – that I never would have thought to pair with veal. It all made up for a very fresh and relatively light dish.

Pressé de Jarret de Veau Braisé

The Cote d’Agneau Rôties au Thym Frais, Pommes de terre et aubergines à l’ail doux was fantastic. These was some the best lamb I’ve ever had and each lamb chop was cooked to a perfect rose inside. The accompanying mashed potatoes and aubergine puree were equally good.

Cote d'Agneau Rôties au Thym Frais

During our main course, we had been watching the progress of the cheese platter around the restaurant with envious eyes! Finally, it was our turn! Two fresh plates were set in front of us and then Le Plateau de Fromages d’Astier appeared! Oh, what a spread – we helped ourselves to a bit of almost everything but my particular favourite (and always has been) was a brilliant Époisses – you can just see it on the small plate at the back.

Le Plateau de Fromages d'Astier

Dessert was of the same excellent standard as the rest of the courses. Blai’s Clafoutis et Sorbet aux Framboises was full of butter and fresh fruit.

Clafoutis et Sorbet aux Framboises

My Biscuit Tiède aux Abricots, Glace à la vanille Bourbon façon Melba was equally delicious with half an abricot baked into the cake and another half roasted and placed on top. Their accompanying ice creams and sorbets are also to be commended.

Biscuit Tiède aux Abricots

We were stuffed. I managed to find some space for a coffee but that was it – roll us out please.

Café

Service was excellent and very jokey (“€200!” announced our waiter as he brought the bill and he laughed as my eyes bulged out of their sockets. Our bill was less than half that.) It’s a fantastic place to take a very traditional bistro meal and yes, it’s good for cosy dates too! Bookings are advised. It was emptier when we went which can possibly be explained by it being the last weekend in August.

Astier
44 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
75011 Paris

And that ends my posts from our long weekend in Paris. All my photos from this short Paris trip can be found at this Flickr photoset. It’s back to London for a bit before I start writing about the south of France!

It’s July – major celebration month in our household. First there’s Blai’s birthday and then there’s my birthday and then at the end of the month, our wedding anniversary. As you can imagine, this makes July a very busy and expensive month! First up was a dinner to celebrate Blai’s birthday at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe; the restaurant was chosen when he requested a French meal. We’d never been to any of the Galvin restaurants and I thought we’d use this occasion to try it. Located on Baker Street, the restaurant looks tiny from the outside but inside is a much larger, very classic and warm French bistro than is expected.

Blai chose the bistro’s famous Lasagne of Dorset Crab, Beurre Nantais for his starter. The little cylindrical lasagne sat in a large pool of the most exquisite beurre blanc (I’ve just learned that beurre Nantais is when cream is added) which we wiped up with the warm bread provided. The silky sheets of pasta held together a rich mousse packed with crab; this dish gave me serious starter envy!

Lasagne of Dorset Crab, Beurre Nantais

I started with the Imam Bayaldi, Greek Yoghurt and Coriander Cress. What arrived was another little tower of food: aubergine, tomato, onion all cooked together to a chunky yet lush mixture and served cold. I thought the aubergine could have been a bit silkier but overall, it was a dish that was well put together and well presented, if a little light.

Imam Bayaldi, Greek Yoghurt & Coriander Cress

Because he just can’t have enough pasta, Blai chose the Open Ravioli of Braised Pig’s Head, Celeriac Remoulade for his main course. While the bits of pig’s head were lovely and tender, there was a strong vinegary flavour incorporated with them. While not unpleasant, it was still a very strange taste to encounter when one’s expecting a rich braise. The creamy celeriac remoulade was hiding underneath the ravioli and again, while not terrible, we felt it didn’t work well with the ravioli on top.

Open Ravioli of Braised Pig's Head

I had the Roast Wood Pigeon, Macaroni, Pancetta and Broad Beans. The pigeon breasts had been grilled till rare and were served on top of a mixture of fresh macaroni, pancetta, broad beans (whole and pureed) and tender pieces of the pigeon leg and thigh. This was a more successful mixture with the richness of the game and the pancetta working well with the greenness of the broad beans. The sauce drizzled around the perimeter was extremely dark. iron-rich and I wonder if it was made of blood.

Roast Wood Pigeon

My Apple Tarte Tatin, Creme Fraiche came out looking like half a wagon wheel on a plate. This was the biggest single portion of tarte tatin I’ve ever encountered! The size may not be so apparent in the photo but trust me, it was at least 7 or 8 inches in diameter. And it was utterly gorgeous too, with the puff pastry half crispy and half chewy with caramel.

Apple Tarte Tatin, Creme Fraiche

Blai’s Valrhona Chocolate Delice, Milk Ice Cream came out with birthday greetings which was a very nice and welcome surprise. I don’t remember much of the little I tasted but judging by the way Blai wiped his plate soon after it was placed in front of him, I’d say it was excellent! Actually, I do remember that it was lighter than it appeared, which is quite refreshing.

Valrhona Chocolate Delice, Milk Ice Cream

Service was wonderfully jovial and, I thought, really made this birthday dinner. The food overall wasn’t bad – the starters and desserts were excellent but I thought the mains, while not excellent, were good. Perhaps we didn’t order very well. Still, we loved the restaurant enough that we’d love to return again – I hear their prix fixe menu is excellent value. For those who are interested, our bill (food + water + a lemonade) came to a total of £69.70.

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
66 Baker Street
London W1U 7DJ

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