On a recent trip to Paris, we based ourselves in the 9th arrondissement, which is a lively area just north of the Grands Boulevards. There was no shortage of restaurants in the area, so we decided to do our eating there. Officially we were being vegetarian for Lent but seeing as it was St. Patrick’s weekend and we were in Paris, we decided to let ourselves fall off the wagon, so to speak.
Le 7eme Sens, 7 rue Cadet, 75009 Paris
This small restaurant was around the corner from our hotel and seemed to be run by a family team. The food was good, although service was a little slow to start. For starters we had deep fried goats cheese in filo pastry and a pork terrine. I liked the terrine but Anna wasn’t crazy on the cheese. My main was a rabbit casserole and Anna had a sea bass filet. We had cheese and creme brulee, washed down by two espressos, to finish. The price including two glasses of champagne and a bottle of Cahors red wine came to €93.
This was a more upmarket restaurant than on the previous night but was fairly empty for a Saturday night. One of the nice things about France is the lack of any issue in eating veal, which featured heavily on the menu here. After perusing the menu over a couple of flutes of champagne, we decided to start with a crab terrine and the classic Tete de Veau with sauce gribiche. Neither were particularly memorable, but at least after years of wondering what Tete de Veau, or calf’s head, tastes like, I now know not to bother ordering it again.
The main courses were veal liver and Quasi de Veau, which seems to be a lean cut from the hind quarter. Both were good although, I would have preferred the liver a little moister. It seemed to have been poached and then seared. While it was very tender and tasty, it was also a little on the dry side, which ironically is often a side effect of poaching meat. The desserts were frozen lemon with ice cream and rum baba. The latter was exceptional. We finished off with two espressos.
The wine was a somewhat extravagant €44 for a nice bottle of Savigny. The total bill came to €146, which is a little more like the prices we’re used to in Dublin. While the meal was still better value than at home, it was far and away the most expensive, but not most memorable, meal of the weekend.
L’Orient D’Or, 22 rue de Trevise, 75009 Paris
At home we tend to eat out on Sunday evenings, rather than on Saturday: there’s more freedom to choose at short notice. We often choose ethnic restaurants for these meals. So although in Paris, why break an old habit? Not having any definite restaurant in mind, we ended up in the L’Orient D’Or on the corner opposite the famous Folies Bergere. This was a Chinese restaurant specialising in the Hunan Xiang style. The place was packed and most promisingly we were practically the only non-Chinese there.
I have spent quite a lot of time in China but am not too familiar with Hunan cooking, except knowing that it is la or spicy. We were offered some advice from our neighbour and ended up choosing jaozi dumplings, stir-fried Chinese cabbage with lots of chillies, aubergine and eel, both of which were prepared in the Xiang style. The food was excellent and along with a couple of big bottles of Tsingtao beer, the bill came to €53.
Instead of having our usual extravagant going home lunch at Atelier Joel Robouchon we decided it was time to revisit the incomparable but incredibly cheap Chartier. Now, you shouldn’t go to Chartier expecting haute cuisine: it offers bistro classics, in a great space, and with a great atmosphere. You can’t be too precious here, as you’ll be seated wherever there’s room and will often share a table with complete strangers. This restaurant does not take bookings and is so popular that there’s nearly always a queue to get in.
We started with a celeriac salad and some prawns served with mayonnaise. Anna found the salad a little heavy but the prawns were simple and good. Mains were quenelles of pike and andouillete sausage. The quenelles didn’t contain too much pike but the andouillete was excellent. Dessert were the bistro classics iles flottant and coupe Mont Blanc. We finished with two espressos.
Along with a half litre of house wine the bill came to the grand total of €43. And we were also treated to a stand-up row between two of the waiting staff. Unbeatable!