Booking a restaurant, bar or cafe where you are eating with the locals in Paris has become a quest for me. A bistro or brasserie brimming with neighbourhood Madames and Monsieurs is like hitting the jackpot. You feel more immersed within their culture and somehow reassured that the famous French palette will guide you.
So, here I shall share a few of my successes of eating with the locals in Paris – Le Tournebievre (along the River Seine by Notre Dame), Astier (north end of The Marais area) and Café Loustic (also in the 3rd Arrondissement).
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Le Tournebievre is full of dark slate and glass with wall hangings alluding to the history of this part of the river Seine. Cosy and friendly, we felt very welcome and happy there.
There are only 3 choices of each course. I like that, as it shows a real confidence in their food. Our expectations are high. As we scan the lunch menu my daughter spies the cocktail list.
The staff are brilliant here and although they don’t usually serve cocktails at this time the main chef leaves his kitchen and makes Charlotte a Daiquiri.
It turns out to be one of the best cocktails we have tasted in a long time. Well done that man!
My tartine with pesto was scrummy. All crunchy, cheesy, moist and moreish.
The tartare was fishy, fresh, soft with the satisfying crunch of diced vegetables..
And the snails were, well, very nice (I’m told). I’m yet to go there…
By now the restaurant was filling up with smartly dressed locals. There were several celebrations going on. The atmosphere was relaxed and chatty.
Ta da! Cassolette Oceane.
We eat this slowly and quietly (for us) as we savoured every bite.
For dessert I opted for this beauty. They called it a Cafe liegeois, a classic in France. It’s all creamy, with sweetened coffee and ice-cream. It’s divine.
My daughter went for this tempting little chocolate cake, with its caramel butter sauce. Daaamn good.
The men were super smart and opted for the Cafe Gourmond and got themselves a selection of not-so-little classics.
Fortunately we do a tremendous amount of walking during our city breaks. So, inevitably we need another pit-stop/re-fuel/excuse for more French coffee. Cue Cafe Loustic.
It’s super funky and full of beautiful students and cool young persons meeting up.
Friendly staff politely put up with our pigeon French and serve us exactly what we wanted (turns out they spoke English very well).
The coffee was delicious and hit the spot.
The owner, and dude, Chana adds even more soul to the place by offering everyone a little chocolate egg (for Easter).
Loving life and feeling refreshed we hit the streets once again.
Tired after a long but brilliant day seeing the sights, staggering into the brasserie Astier felt like a warm hug as soon as we stepped in. The staff were friendly, helpful and humorous too.
It’s spring, so of course we all opted for the new seasons asparagus (well I liked the idea of a runny egg, but seasonality sounds better).
Feeling better already, we’ve settled in. Enjoying seeing the waiter fetch wine from an impossibly tiny cellar.
My scallop dish was incredibly pretty and as fresh as can be.
James went for the lamb with all its oniony yumminess beneath and mashed potato naughtiness on the side.
The table is rather full, no room for that jus.
The restaurant by now was full, buzzing and full of families. We were offered a cheese course. The boys went for it and us girls were happy to let our dinner get down ready for a dessert.
A beautiful tray of cheeses were set on our table. No wonder you are eating with the locals in Paris here!
Being English we politely waited to be served, happily discussing the merits of this and that type of cheese.
Finally, the waiter come over and asks, ‘What are you afraid of? Please, help yourself’.
We did, we dug in. We lost composure. We ‘cheesed-up’. Apologies to these two who are much more French chic than we are.
Because their parents are still un-hinged.
Thankfully, the cheese was removed and desserts arrived.
I take chocolate mousse very seriously and this was in my top 3 of my life time. My current favs were served at the Hotel Eden in Rome and a tucked away restaurant in Florence. This one had honeycomb pieces within in and a chocolate sauce too!! It may have pipped the others at the post.
This pineapple rum baba number was lovely too.
But this classic was lush and loved by all.
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