A few tastes of Paris

Paris is our feel-good city, so Jan and I were feeling good when we headed off by train for the City of Light last Saturday. We were travelling there to celebrate Jan’s birthday, to enjoy some culinary delights, and to spend time with great friends from Toronto, Keith and Kathy, who had braved the transatlantic crossing for some biking and sight-seeing in France.

With this post, I’m just going to show off some of the dishes we really enjoyed — even if they weren’t always in fine-dining restaurants.

One dish that may seem surprising for a Paris restaurant is the lobster roll. Yes, it’s the New England classic that consists of cold chunks of lobster in a mayonnaise, served on a sprinkling of crisp chopped lettuce and placed in a soft roll. (This being Paris, the bun is a delicious brioche.)

Jan and I each had the lobster-roll-and-fries special, at 32 euros each, at the Café Tourville, a short walk from our hotel. In fact, we had this meal twice — once on the Saturday afternoon of our arrival, and once on the day we left. It’s absolutely wonderful, which you might tell from this photo:

Cool lobster, hot fries — an absolute favourite.

The Café Tourville has been one of our favourite haunts in Paris for years, and so has the Romantica Caffé, an authentic Italian restaurant where we’ve lunched many times. On this trip, we enjoyed lunch at Romantica on Monday, when Jan had pasta with clams, and I had a creamy pasta that had been stirred in a large, hollowed-out wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. Have a look:

Jan’s clam-and-pasta dish, and my creamy, cheesy spaghetti.

In addition to the high quality of the food and the friendly service, the location of Romantica Caffé is also a plus. The restaurant is located on the Boulevard de la Tour Maubourg, right across from Les Invalides, the impressive building that houses Napoleon’s tomb. Here’s a view from our table:

From our table, a view of the top of the Invalides.

Our friends enjoy oysters as much as we do, and so on Monday night we all repaired to Huitrerie Regis in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. This restaurant specializes in oysters (quite obviously) and is also notable for being incredibly tiny. At our table for four, it seemed as if we were taking up most of the restaurant’s inside space. Here’s our tray of slipperies:

Oysters at perhaps the smallest restaurant in Paris.

We did have two disappointments on the lunchtime front. First, we were looking forward to Sunday lunch at an Indian restaurant that Jan and I know and love (Chez Raja, on the rue Surcouf) and had our reservation confirmed by an online service. However, the online service had missed the rather important fact that the restaurant would be closed on Sunday, and so when we arrived we were greeted by a locked front door. (We ate at a not-very-special café around the corner.)

The other disappointment was Tuesday’s lunch (for Jan’s birthday) at a Michelin-starred restaurant. I’ll cover that in a future post.

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10 Responses to A few tastes of Paris

  1. D2 says:

    For a restaurant, finishing pasta in the wheel of cheese is very smart. It’s not likely something you are going to do at home. Now we are going to find a lobster roll. New rule, never read your blog when hungry.

  2. Alison says:

    I thought Jan was GF?

  3. Joan E Taylor says:

    Happy Belated Birthday! Hope it works out next time we try to meet up in Paris – no more pandemics!

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks, Joan, on behalf of Jan. Yes, we’d love to see you in Paris — certainly one of these days. So far, Keith and Kathy seem to be having no problem with the transatlantic travel. They did have to wear masks during their long flight, just as Jan and I had to wear masks for the Paris train trip, but all in all, it’s not too much of a pain.

  4. Paul Russell says:

    So much fun returning to this blog after a few years! Your adventures clearly continue. Glad you’re both doing well!

    A quick question Jan and Loren — do you feel comfortable speaking in French at this stage? In the post about the Michelin star restaurant disappointment, Loren mentioned speaking to the manager after by phone. This would terrify me with my basic French. Is it second nature for you both now? Wife Kathy retires at the end of this year, and a few months living in France is on the agenda. Just wondering if we should be taking some classes in Toronto now to prepare.

    All the best!
    Paul

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks Paul. As it turned out, the restaurant manager who called us was English, so there was no problem communicating. As for my French, it is pretty intermediate — Jan’s French is much better. But I can handle most “routine” situations/phone calls, like making appointments, changing the dates of appointments, ordering food, and so on. I used the Alliance Francaise in Toronto, and frankly didn’t think much of their approach. Private lessons are much, much better than “group” lessons. Another good choice, I think, is RosettaStone. I used it for quite a while after moving here, and found a noticeable improvement in my French. All the best to you and Kathy.

      • Paul Russell says:

        Perfect! This is great information. I’ve always been curious, especially since you’re so much part of the community there. Thanks for continuing your posts too. It’s a great window for us into a different world (smaller town living, France, etc). Take care and hope the next Michelin star restaurant is a better bet!

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