If you had asked me when I began my job what my dream work scenario was, the answer was easy: get sent to Europe for a long-term assignment. It wasn’t necessarily something I thought would happen, but I certainly hoped for it. And then, in August, the opportunity fell into my lap: an assignment that would have me relocating to Paris for the fall.
Almost immediately, I began thinking about what I might do with my time in Paris, and before long, the list of places I wanted to go, things I wanted to see, and – above all – restaurants where I wanted to eat had grown long. I’ll never put a dent in all of it, of course, but I certainly did try my best in September.
One place I had heard much about was Bistrot Paul Bert, a classic French bistro in the 11th. Many places don’t live up to their own hype but, happily, Paul Bert did: I loved every bite of my meal, but particularly my octopus with crystalized lemon starter (so flavorful) and my lemon tart (decadent but not sickly sweet). Hell, the steak frites were great, too.
My other clear favorite of the month was La Bourse et La Vie, a brand new restaurant serving up traditional French favorites. In fact, I loved this place so much I returned twice, opting for the steak frites during round one and the Oysters Rockefeller and pot-au-feu during round two. Everything was great, but the pot-au-feu especially blew me away: made with veal, bone marrow (oh, the bone marrow!), and veggies, it’s a hearty treat.
After a morning huffing up and down the hills of Montmartre (seriously, that neighborhood is a hike), I was ready for sustenance. Enter: Jeanne B, a cute restaurant slash épicerie. There, I tried the fixed price lunch: a fish appetizer (the variety of fish escapes me), roasted chicken for my main, and a chocolate caramel mousse for my dessert. It was all delicious, and look how lovely that fish was:
There’s one place I seem to return to again and again in Paris: Le Petit Cler, a cute little restaurant on Rue Cler. Their menu is simple, but I just love it and, like La Bourse et La Vie, I visited it twice this month. On my very first day in the city, jetlagged as hell, I popped in for my favorite lunch there: roasted goat cheese on grilled bread. A few weeks later, with a friend, I had their steak frites (which were so good I ate them before I remembered to take a picture). Le Petit Cler has my favorite Parisian comfort food, and it never disappoints.
One thing I never realized about Paris is that the 1st is teeming with Japanese restaurants. Since that also happens to be where my office is located, I’m excited to try some of them! I began with Hokkaido, a ramen place (where, word to the wise, you should go early if you don’t want to wait in line). I had gyoza to start and a big, heaping bowl of ramen for my main, which was a nice change of pace from constant French fare.
Another favorite spot near my office is Mipi, which serves up Neapolitan-style pizzas. It’s not quite being back in Italy, but it is very good – I loved my pizza margherita, and they have a variety of tasty antipasti, including zeppolelle, which are basically little dough balls of awesomeness.
And finally, one morning, I dragged myself out of bed early (always a challenge for me) and headed to Île de la Cité for breakfast at Café Saint-Régis. The breakfast was fairly standard, but I loved the cheerful wait staff, including my waiter who seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of chatter and songs to sing to himself as he worked.
September in Paris was incredible – but over a week into October, and I have to say it’s possibly looking even better. Stay tuned.