Return to Paris
I often get asked why I keep going back to Paris instead of traveling somewhere new. I do feel the push and pull of wanting to explore new cities, but something about the magic of Paris keeps me coming back. I just returned from another week in Paris, and yet again was wowed by the people, the sights, and the food.
JOSEPHINE CHEZ DUMONET
I have been reading about this classic French bistro for years now. On this most recent trip, I made my reservation months in advance to ensure I could indulge in what David Lebovitz and Bon Appetit magazine have both deemed the best beef bourguignon in Paris. We arrived to a small and comfortable restaurant with a very friendly staff. The menu was the perfect size with just a few appetizers, entrees, and desserts to choose from. We enjoyed a bottle of red from Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy. While snacking on bread with divine French butter, we ordered dinner and sipped our wine while patiently waiting for the famous beef bourguignon to arrive.
When it arrived, it was more beautiful than I could have imagined. It was served in a large cast iron pan drenched in homemade sauce with a huge spoon for serving. In addition, Chez Dumonet also provides a side of plain pasta so you can pour the saucy beef overtop of the starch. It was everything I had hoped for and more, and I now dream of this dish regularly.
We ended the meal with three desserts, all of which were memorable. The standout was the apple tart which was sliced very thin, beautifully arranged, crispy, slightly browned on top, and finished with powdered sugar. Josephine Chez Dumonet is now on my "must" list when in Paris. The restaurant is located in the 6th arrondissement at 117 Rue de Cherche-Midi.
I would argue this might be one of the best tables in Paris right now. The new-ish sister restaurant to Verjus, Ellsworth offers seasonal American small plates in an elegant wine bar setting. It's a small and narrow restaurant that packs a major punch when it comes to ingredients and flavors.
I was wowed by the food at Ellsworth, and each dish was better than the next. We started with a bottle of the Bandol rosé, and immediately jumped into the interesting flavor combinations of each course. My favorite dish was the fried clams with creamed corn, pickled chiles, lemon and basil. We also loved the green beans served over white bean hummus with sesame and sourdough bread crumbs. The grilled squid with potato and leeks was excellent, and we finished with a malt ice cream dessert with espresso and milk crumble. It was one of the best meals we had on the trip, and on my next visit I hope to try their brunch. Ellsworth is located in the 1st arrondissement on 34 Rue de Richelieu.
LE BISTROT PAUL BERT
I have wanted to dine here for some time, especially after Alice Waters called Le Bistrot Paul Bert out for its "time-honored classicism" in Condé Nast Traveler. While most of the people were speaking English when we first arrived, this was mainly because we dined on the earlier side. As it gets later into the evening, French locals choose it for dinner as well. The menu is written on a chalkboard and offers three courses at a very reasonable price. I started with the green bean salad which sounded good on the menu, but ended up being one of the most delightful dishes I ate the entire week while I was in Paris. It included shaved Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, croutons, and olive oil.
For my main course I went with the lamb shoulder served with polenta and my friend chose the hake fish with mushrooms. Both were quite nice, but I couldn't help to feel like I had ordered wrong as I saw the "special" steak frites coming out to other tables. The steak was not on that evening's menu, but it turns out they serve it every night... you just have to know to ask. Next time!
The best advice I can give to anyone dining at Le Bistrot Paul Bert is to not skip dessert. The lemon tart was perfect, and the raspberry macaron was both beautiful and delicious. On my next trip to Paris I hope to try the more contemporary sister restaurant, Le 6 Paul Bert. Le Bistrot Paul Bert is located in the 11th arrondissement at 18 Rue Paul Bert.
One of the most famous spots along Boulevard Saint Germain, it makes for the perfect Parisian lunch. Just next door to another favorite of mine, Les Deux Magots, both of these offer great choices for salads, sandwiches, and lighter fare during lunchtime. We snagged a table on the crowded outside patio, drank rosé, people watched, and enjoyed satisfying bites to eat.
I ordered an artichoke salad served over arugula with prosciutto and Parmesan. My friend ordered the prosciutto and melon salad, and we then split the croque monsieur which provided a carby and cheesy addition to the meal. Café de Flore is located in the 6th arrondissement on 172 Boulevard Saint Germain.
I have been to this restaurant before, and I even blogged about it during my trip in 2012. For our last night in Paris we wanted something easy and delicious, and this was the perfect spot. It's a small restaurant that doesn't take reservations, but if you get there early enough you can snag a seat at the bar and have a very enjoyable and casual dinner.
A cocotte is a casserole dish, so many of the items they offer are served in a dutch oven. I started with the lobster ravioli which arrived in a cast iron dish with a creamy sauce. It was rich, but the perfect portion size which made me hungry for more. I then opted for the sirloin steak with potatoes which was flavorful and cooked well, and finished the meal with delicious waffles topped with cream and served with a caramel sauce.
Les Cocottes was just as good as I remembered it to be. Les Cocottes is located in the 7th arrondissement at 135 Rue Saint-Dominique.
You might think of Ladurée as a pastry shop that sells macarons, and they do. However, many of the locations throughout Paris have a sit down restaurant that offers a fantastic breakfast. We went on our last day in Paris and indulged in excellent French coffee and delights.
For breakfast I enjoyed a cappuccino, a chocolate croissant, and the most fluffy and creamy eggs I have ever tasted. Situated in a whimsical and French atmosphere, it's a nice place to start the day and map out your game plan for the afternoon. There are many locations throughout Paris, but we chose the Ladurée in the 1st arrondissement located at 16 Rue Royale near the Louvre.
My friends who were in Paris at the same time as me signed up for a croissant making class at La Cuisine Paris, and encouraged me to do the same. It ended up being one of the best activities we participated in during the trip, and easily the best croissants I have ever tasted. The classes are taught in English, and they are kept to a small size to ensure that everyone gets to have a large role in the process.
The class was three hours and we made everything from plain croissants to chocolate croissants, to cinnamon rolls, and other pastries stuffed with cream and jelly. At the end of the class, they served us coffee and tea and we got to indulge in eating all of the amazing baked goods. In addition, they provided us with doggie bags so we could take home all of the leftover items our stomachs couldn't fit at the end of class. It was a great experience, and I will definitely look into taking additional classes with them in the future. La Cuisine Paris is located in the 4th arrondissement at 80 Quai de l’Hotel de Ville.
In addition to all of the wonderful meals mentioned above, we also found ourselves back at L'Avenue for dinner on our first evening in town. I wrote about it in my post from my trip in September 2014, and it continues to be a chic spot while strolling along Avenue Montaigne. We also enjoyed a stop at Willi's Wine Bar for a drink before heading to dinner at Ellsworth, and I highly recommend enjoying cocktails in the outdoor courtyard at Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V.