Breizh Café – ◊◊◊ – 109 rue Vieille du Temple (3rd)
I highly recommend this place, I think it’s the first place I’ve been to so far in Paris, where I know I will definitely be bringing all of my out of town guests. They serve delicious buckwheat crepes, both savory and sweet. I’ve learned that in Brittany (Normandy as well) they can’t grow grapes very well because of the climate so they make hard cider and other alcohol from apples. Breizh Café is a charming little place that exudes cheerfulness not only from the staff, but also the light wooden decor, I really don’t know why, but it all felt very Californian to me. And seeing the tiny kitchen they were using to serve an entire restaurant gave me courage to use my tiny kitchen to it’s fullest potential.
I had the Crêpe Complete Oignon: a buckwheat crepe filled with scrumptous onions carmelized in cider, ham, cheese (I think it was gruyère), and topped with a soft runny egg that when broken coated all of the contents with a luscious glaze of warm egg, oh and of course I had to get a boule de cidre to wash it all down. (3.19.10)
Café de Flore – ◊◊ – 172 boulevard Saint Germain (6th)
Arguably the most famous café in Paris and the only challenger would be the place next door, Les Deux Magots. They were both made popular by the noted clientele that frequented them during the early to mid 19th century; American expat writers, such as Hemingway, and surrealist artists and existentialists, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. It still is a place that is more about the who, than the what (the food, which as you probably realize is paramount to me). I had a mediocre croque monsieur and my friend, Jenna, had an equally mediocre looking croque madame. But I do have to say that I did feel slightly fabulous sitting amongst the chic Parisians in the front as they relished their chicness and scrutinized the tourists walking by and the others being ushered to the tables in the back. I of course pretend that “the chic” didn’t do the same to me when I was leaving, but somehow no matter what I do or wear the neon-blinking-“american” sign has a pesty way of popping up above my head at the most inopportune.
Bottom line, I don’t think I’ll be a regular here; however, I do think it’s a place worth visiting for the history alone. And I could imagine coming back for a small (expensive) snack and a glass of champagne, as I do my best chic Parisian imitation. (3.15.10)
Da Rosa – ◊◊ – 62 rue de Seine (6th)
Da Rosa is a super hero of sorts, gourmet delicatessen by day, chic small plates bistro by night. I didn’t particularly enjoy the dish I ordered (risotto avec ibérico bellota), but I can tell from everything else that I saw, that my lackluster dish was the exception and not the rule. It was the most bland risotto I had ever tried and if it wasn’t for the salty morsels of ibérico ham on top, I probably wouldn’t have eaten more than a few bites. I was dinning alone this night so I ordered a “specialty” from a short list of main courses; however, this place is definitely best suited for 2 or more people so you can order a variety of the small plates. There is a generous list of olives, caviars, cheeses, and most notably, hams from Spain, Portugal and Italy. Aside from the risotto, the green olives and red wine I ordered were great. I look forward to coming again, with additional people this time, to try out more of the menu. (3.18.10)
L’As du Fallafel – ◊◊ – 34 rue des Rosiers
Ehhh…it’s good but it didn’t quite live up to the hype. Before I went, I read about this place on countless blogs, I even heard about it on a San Francisco Yelp message board before I moved here. So needless to say my expectations were high and perhaps that was the problem. I was expecting orgasmic and what I got was a solid falafel. Yes it was flavorful and unique from other falafels I have enjoyed, but it wasn’t “the best ever” as others have claimed. First of all, anyone coming here should expect to wait in line. Personally, I find that ridiculously good food comes in one of two ways, either it’s cheap and you have to wait in a long line or it’s really expensive and you don’t have to wait, but it is NEVER cheap with no line. So long lines or high price tags don’t bother me one bit, as long as the food is worth it. And despite my somewhat average review above, I do think it’s worth the line. A guy comes to take your order when you first enter the line, which makes it seem like the line is moving faster, because you are distracted for a time, but the real reason is to make sure people stay in the line, cause I doubt they will give you your money back if you decide halfway through the line that you don’t want to wait any longer. When you get to the window they ask if you want it épicé (spicy), I of course said yes and next time will probably ask for extra spicy as the sauce isn’t as spicy as it appears. I never knew I would miss spicy food as much as I do. It comes in a very thick pita and, if I remember correctly, is layered from the bottom in this order: cabbage (red and green), juliened cucumbers, 2-3 falafel, more cabbage and cucumbers, 2-3 more falafel, tomatoes, grilled and marinated (delicious) eggplants, some yogurt/mayo-ey sauce and then the spicy sauce, if you ordered it. I ate from the top down, only mixing up the very top layer (my big mistake), which left me at the end with a pita half full with cabbage and no sauce or yummy-ness. So make sure to mix up the entire thing in the beginning, so the first bite will be as good as the last. (3.16.10)