Tranquillity Base: A lunch in Paris

Several years ago, on one of our periodic visits to Paris, my wife Jan and I happened upon an elegant old hotel, tucked away behind some arches along one side of the Place des Vosges, which is located in the Marais district on the city’s Right Bank.

Place des Vosges, by the way, is the oldest planned square in Paris, and it’s worth seeing. In fact, says the Paris Marais website:  “A stroll in the Marais without admiring the Place des Vosges is like a walk on the Champs Élysées without seeing the Arc de Triomphe!”

In any case, Jan and I were quite taken with the charming hotel, known as Le Pavillon de la Reine. It turns out that the hotel was built in 1612 (Gads!), and was named for Queen Anne of Austria, who had stayed in one of the wings. Always interested in new places to stay while in Paris, we asked the concierge for a list of the room prices.

And that was the last thing I remembered before the medics brought me out of cardiac arrest.

Okay, I’m kidding about the cardiac arrest, but let’s just say that the prices (even for a top Parisian hotel) seemed a bit steep. We crossed it off our must-try list, but for some reason the hotel lingered in our memories. Then, last year, I read that the hotel had opened its first-ever  restaurant — Restaurant Anne. Since we knew we would be in Paris in February, we made a reservation for lunch.

Now here’s a look at Le Pavillon de la Reine, taken from its quiet front courtyard:

A hidden gem of a hotel.

Restaurant Anne is located in the library of the hotel, on the ground floor, and is nothing if not peaceful (hence my title, Tranquillity Base). Here’s a look at the table next to ours, with a wall of books behind it:

The table next to ours.

While the room prices seem sky-high to Jan and me, the cost of the three-course lunch menu was a manageable 55 euros. For each course, you’re offered two choices, and as it happened, we both wanted the same dishes.

Our entrée was billed as seiches grillées au barbecue, or grilled cuttlefish, served with spring asparagus and a squid-ink sauce. It was quite tasty, but I thought that the cuttlefish pieces had barely been cooked, much less barbecued. Here’s how my plate looked:

The seafood could have been  more barbecued.

Our plat principal was billed on the menu as comme un navarin, or “like a navarin,” and I’m not sure why — since it seemed to be a (very good) plate of the traditional French spring stew of lamb and vegetables. Each  dish included two nice servings of lamb (a chop and a piece of shoulder), and a delicious rich sauce. Here’s my serving:

My delicious lamb dish.

To finish, Jan and I both ordered a cheese course rather than a dessert, and enjoyed the thin slices of Manchego (the wonderful Spanish sheep’s milk cheese), served over a salad of bitter greens.  Here’s my plate:

A nice twist on the cheese course.

All in all, Restaurant Anne is a pleasant spot with good food. The obvious question is always: Would you return? And my answer would be: Probably not. But that’s only because Paris is loaded with so many fine restaurants (including those with one, two or three Michelin stars) that we haven’t tried yet. More trips to Paris, clearly, are needed.

This entry was posted in Food, French food, Holidays in France, Paris restaurants, Travels in and out of France and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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