Ah, how many things I wish I had time to eat, but alas, wandering the streets of Paris, with no agenda, foggy from jetlag, nibbling along the way, wasn't a bad way to spend a few days.
The best part was tasting the cooking of a few of the great chefs of Paris. The theme of our reservations (unintentionally, but indicative of a trend in France) seemed to be "chefs who've ditched their former fine dining ways." First up was Alain Senderens, the renowned chef who raised eyebrows when he closed his three Michelin star restaurant, Lucas Carton, and reopened as the more modern Senderens in 2005. Highlights from dinner included a luscious piece of foie gras poached in an Asian style broth, a crustless vol-au-vent with crawfish and truffles, and rich ginger and cocoa ice creams. The menu helpfully—and somewhat playfully—offers a suggested drink pairing with every dish, whether a floral glass of Vouvray or Talisker whiskey with water.
But for all the attention the chef received for ditching his stars and creating a more casual vibe, Senderens is neither casual nor cheap. There may not be white linen table cloths and tuxedoed waiters, but the dining room (pictured above) and the crowd are très chic.
Chef Dominique Bouchet has a similar story, having done time in the kitchens at the renowned La Tour d'Argent and Hotel de Crillon and then opening his own quaint neighborhood spot. Dominique Bouchet was my favorite decor-wise, thanks to the snug, warmly lit dining room. I loved the creamy chestnut soup topped with shaved black truffle, seared scallops accompanied by the delicate, fried green tops of carrots, lamb with thyme, and to finish, a towering Grand Marnier souffle. (If you happen to go, be warned that the street is tiny, and good directions are a must.)
At Chez Les Anges, we opted to give our vocabulary skills a rest and went for the tasting menu. Highlights included oysters topped with a tangy Champagne sabayon, seared scallops over risotto and tender pigeon breast and leg. The modern dining room is anchored by a bar, beneath which colored lights fade in and out.
Our aimless wanderings included a stop at Fish La Boissonerie, an ex-pat wine bar, for an afternoon snack of wine and 30-month Comte. The bar helpfully label its wines by grape varietal (pour les Americains, bien sur) as opposed to region. (It also happens to sit right across the street from the very first Cosi.) Another afternoon, sugar-dusted crepes and creamy chocolat chaud on the Ile Saint-Louis were the perfect side dishes for the setting sun.
And because of the stellar recommendations you all provided and all the food yet to eat, the only logical course of action is to book another trip—I'll hope sooner rather than later.
(Photo from lucascarton.com.)