Tuesday, June 16, 2015

International Eats - Paris: Steak Frites and Such

Our first meal in Paris was at La Fontain De Mars, just beyond the Eiffel Tower. Naturally, the Eiffel Tower was the first thing we had to see and it was spectacular. I'm sure if I was a Parisian the tower would be to me like Empire State Building is... Just Another building. But this is Paris and it was awesome!

We walked around the park below for a bit then headed to the restaurant. Without reservation we were able to get a seat in the corner but we didn't mind at all. We happened to be sat next to New Yorkers so that was kind of fun too. While purusing the English menu their meal arrived. They order potatoes au gratin that looked absolutely heavenly... Covered in creamy, golden cheese. Who wouldn't want that!? We immediately asked for them as our appetizer. People have potatoes as an appetizer, right? 

I ordered fried duck as my main course. It seemed like the thing to do, well that and gluten free entrees were a bit limited since most of their steak sauces contained gluten. 

I couldn't complain though. The duck was crispy and perfectly juicy on the inside. 

After a few glasses of wine, dessert seemed like a great idea!! I had a bowl of strawberries with vanilla ice cream and pistachios. The combination of sweet and crunchy was phenomenal! 

On night two, we stopped for an afternoon glass of wine at cheese in Saint Germain. Cafe De Flore was highly recommended by my former boss as well as our travel book. Since being back in NYC, I saw that Scott Conant from Food Network was there as well so this is obviously a great place. 

We sat outside people watching, sipping wine and sharing a cheese plate. Christiana had bread along with her cheese that looked so good! Gluten free bread is not really common at restaurants so it was just cheese and wine for me (no complaints here!)

Across the street from Cafe De Flore is Brasserie Lipp which was frequented by Julia Child's when she lived in Paris. It was pretty awesome to be around restaurants that fed one of the culinary worlds biggest legends. 

We walked off our wine and cheese as we made our way to Bastille for dinner. Chez Paul was recommended by several colleagues so we were excited to check it out. Again, we were fortunate enough to be sat without a reservation. This meal launched our "dinner plan" for the rest of the trip. We learned the hard way our first night that two entrees was just too much food. Instead, we both ordered an app and shared an entree. 

At Chez Paul, Christiana had French onion soup and I ordered my first plate of escargot for the week (there was plenty more to come!) Her soup arrived first and was loaded with cheese - which in my book is the best part!

My escargot was so delicious!! Who wouldn't love butter, garlic and basil with anything? The escargot was the perfect texture, not too chewy or rubbery. I could have eaten six more. 

For our main meal we split steak and au gratin potatoes. While the portion of potatoes was smaller than the night before, there was a different balance of cheese and cream that we loved! 

For dessert I had a poached pear with vanilla gelato. I was certainly not hungry enough for it but just curious enough to try it and it turned out to be quite refreshing.

I would highly recommend Chez Paul to anyone traveling to Paris. The scene was not touristy at all and our meal was very authentic. 

On night three a miracle happened. Christiana had searched for top rated French cuisine and came across Socre Fleur. After two attempts to call and make a reservation we could not get a table for dinner at any time. We were both bummed. We had just visited Sacre Coure nearby so we popped into a local wine bar recommended by the owner of another wine bar we stopped at earlier that afternoon for wine and cheese. 

While drinking our wine, we started searching restaurant options... Until Christiana realized we were right across the street from Socre Fleur. I figured we had nothing to lose so I ran over to see if a table had opened up. Sure enough one had and we had 5 minutes to fill it! I ran back across the street, we chugged or wine and we were back at the restaurant in no time. Success!! 

The ambiance was beautiful. It felt like we were tucked away in a little French farm house enjoying a farm to table meal... Which we were but in Paris rather than the farm. ;)

We started with nice bottle of red wine then placed our order: French onion soup, escargot and steak frites. This time, the French onion soup came out much less cheesy than the night before but equally as good (according to Christiana.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find my escargot floating in a creamy onion sauce. They were so delicious. I wanted to lick the bowl clean when I was done! (Don't worry - I didn't.) 

Our filet was served on a butcher block with three different (gluten free) sauces. The presentation was beautiful and the sauces paired perfectly with the meat. You'd think by now we were sick of potatoes but trust me, we weren't. We scraped up whatever bits of steak sauce were left with the frites. :)

On our last full day in Paris we walked so much that we needed a midday break. We stopped for a soda at a cafe near Luxemborg Gardens. We sat outside to take in the views around us. Within a few minutes the guest next to us began to receive the food he ordered. When I looked over to my surprise was a plate of escargot - in the snail shell!!!!!!

My jaw hit the table. Obviously I called the waiter over and ordered my own plate immediately. They came out filled with garlic and pesto butter with tongs to hold the shell for easier removal. It was just as fun to pull the snails out as it was to eat!

By night four we were at a loss of where to go for dinner. We hadn't visited the Latin Quarter yet so we narrowed our search and found Brasserie Balzar. There were so many reviews since the restaurant opened its doors in 1886!!! Crazy! 

We were immediately sat in a packed dinning room between an English family celebrating a birthday and an older French couple on a date. It definitely seemed like this was a very popular place to dine. 

Christiana ordered French onion soup to start, once again, loaded with cheese and looked so yummy!

I was a little snailed out after my mid-day treat so I ordered burrata. After cutting into the cheese, the center didn't ooze with creamy cheese like I am used too, however, the center was richer and full of creamy flavor!

We split steak frites for the last time (so sad!) and had potatoes au gratin on the side. The potatoes were super creamy and the frites perfectly crisp!

After finishing our meal and wine, we had just enough room for dessert. More so, because we saw everyone else's dessert come to their tables and knew we wanted it too! ;) Christiana had profiteroles that looks absolutely amazing!!

As the waiter was pouring chocolate over her dish, I asked to use what was left from her carafe (or as I saw it, vat of chocolate) and pour it over my strawberries and ice cream. That was the best decision ever. The chocolate sauce was awesome! Super creamy, rich and milky. Yum!

After dinner we summed up all of meals and realized it was nearly impossible to pick which was the best. Each was great in its own right and all worth recommending to friends. One thing we did agree on was that our waistlines could not afford us eating another potato for months!!

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