Paris: Favorite Bites of Spring 2016

I spent all of last fall in Paris for work so one might wonder why, when it came time to take a vacation this spring, I would return.

The truth is that Paris has become one of my very favorite – and some days, I think, my absolute favorite – places on earth. And as the days ticked closer to my trip, I found myself incredibly excited, both to revisit some of “my” favorite Paris spots and to, at last, check off some new ones (hello, elusive Frenchie reservation!). The city is so rich with culinary treasures that I’m fairly certain I could go back for every vacation and not be bored.

A few weeks before my trip, I saw someone Instagram the gorgeous interior of the newly-opened Grand Coeur and, just like that, I had a must-try place to add to my restaurant list. I ordered the lamb shoulder with sweet potatoes, shallots, nuts, dates, and black sesame sauce and immediately knew it would go down as one of my favorite meals of the trip (a bold pronouncement on day two of a two-week stint). The lamb was so flavorful and the sweet potatoes were To. Die. For.

Grand Coeur

Last fall, my friend and I were queens of Parisian tasting menus, trying a ton of great places, but there was one spot that proved elusive: Frenchie. No matter how frequently we stalked La Fourchette (the French equivalent of Open Table), we never nabbed a res. This spring, I was determined to rectify that mistake and diligently stalked La Fourchette each day. My hard work paid off: we got in!

As soon as my mom and I arrived, I understood why the reservation is so hard to come by: Frenchie is tiny! But though it is little, it is mighty: the service was great, and the food quality was sky high. It’s hard to play favorites, but a few dishes stood out. The asparagus with Parmesan espuma featured a cured egg that was crazy delicious. The guinea fowl dish combined a ton of seemingly random flavors – grapefruit, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, and lobster bisque – into a really tasty dish (with perfectly cooked meat to boot). And one of the dessert courses – chocolate mousse with smoked potato ice cream and caramelized buckwheat – just might have been my favorite course. It was sweet (but not overly so) combined with salty, and the caramelized buckwheat added the perfect crunch.

Frenchie

When I think of Café Saint-Régis, the word that comes to mind is “reliable” – but not in a boring way. It’s super close to Notre Dame, making it a great option for a post-sightseeing meal at a non-tourist trap. In fact, we found ourselves here twice this trip: once for breakfast, and once for lunch. For breakfast, I had an awesome bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. For lunch, I chose the duck, which I was incredibly happy about: it was so flavorful, and the crispy fries were perfect. This is definitely one of the spots I know I will always return to again and again.

Cafe Saint-Regis

Cafe Saint-Regis2

After a morning wandering around the Marais, we found ourselves near the Saint-Paul métro stop and in need of lunch. I spotted La Favorite out of the corner of my eye and had a feeling I had heard of it before. We headed there and it turned out to be a great choice: cute decór and solid food. I had my default order when in France – a warm goat cheese salad – and I was not disappointed.

La Favorite

In restaurants so nice we visited twice, we had L’Auberge Dab, which felt classically Parisian to me, right down to the waiters sporting bowties. Everything here was good, from starters all the way through to dessert. Standouts were the amazing steak, the yummy chicken and veggies, and a strawberry chocolate cake that tasted just as wonderful as it looked.

L'Auberge Dab

L'Auberge Dab2

At Le Meurice, my mom and I enjoyed an uber-elegant afternoon tea. The setting here is just gorgeous – the gold-hued ceiling mural and the fancy-schmancy bathrooms make you feel far more elegant than you really are. The tea was lovely too. My favorite touch was when they brought around trays of fresh-from-the-oven madeleines. Yum!

Le Meurice Afternoon Tea

Ober Mamma was one of the last meals I ate in Paris last fall, but it left an impression: I was convinced it was some of the best Italian food I had ever eaten (including in Italy itself!). The impression held true; I was just as wowed by Ober Mamma this time around. We scarfed down lemonades, buffalo mozzarella, San Daniele ham, and pizzas. So good. One of these days, I’ll manage to eat there and save room for the tiramisu for dessert!

Ober Mamma2

Ober Mamma1

If I lived in Paris, I think I would find myself lunching at Ellsworth all the time. Its menu is relatively simple but so yummy. My main dish – an agnolotti with peas and mushrooms – was great, but it was the salad to start that really got me. Kale with lemony dressing and crunchy quinoa: it sounds oh so basic, but I swear that I could eat this every day and be perfectly content.

Ellsworth1

Ellsworth2

One of my go-to spots last fall was La Bourse et La Vie, and I was so excited to return. I was even more delighted when they remembered me and asked how I had been! The restaurant is nothing showy – its decór is simple and it offers just a few choices for each course – but everything is done just right. My steak frites were perfect.

La Bourse et La Vie

Another of my all-time Paris go-to spots is Le Petit Cler. It’s become an inadvertent tradition of mine: for whatever reason, I almost always wind up there for my first meal in town. And, I almost always get the same thing – goat cheese on grilled bread, drizzled with balsamic.

Le Petit Cler

Much like Paris itself, it’s a dish that just never seems to get old.

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