Oliver!

Food, glorious food. My God, is the food in Paris amazing. Everywhere we go is a recommendation from someone. There’s just too many places to choose from! We sift through all our options and make decisions based off things like location, price, type of food, and if we can get a reservation. Most of the places we hit come from The Infatuation. It’s a website “started in 2009 by two guys who wanted to help their friends find not only great restaurants, but the right restaurant to suit their needs on a particular evening.”

The following four places are found from The Infatuation:

Pas de Loup:

pas

Our first dinner and our first meal in Paris. It’s packed outside, but there are plenty of seats inside. Usually we opt for the bar but we like even more the high top table they place us at, against the wall and next to the bar. Our server is a delight and the cocktails are amazing. It is here at Pas de Loup that I eat the best radishes I’ve ever tasted in my life. I didn’t even know it was possible to enjoy radishes this much. Even more than that, it is here that I eat one of my favorite dishes that I’ll eat in Paris – the octopus. Grilled and meaty and packed with flavor. Every bite is absolutely scrumptious. I especially like places like this – a small menu and all tapas dishes. It’s an amazing first meal and first dinner in Paris.

Le Chateaubriand:

How does a 10-course tasting menu sound? Amazing. Just a little bit of everything to taste and enjoy. Very unique dishes. Some excellent. Some just OK. Service is wonderful and the sommelier picks out the perfect wine for us.

Miznon:

A tiny Israeli lunch spot on the most adorable winding, cobblestone street, filled with other tiny lunch spots. The place is packed and it doesn’t look like there’s anywhere to sit. While we scope out the place, I grab a menu. What language is this?! NOT French and definitely not English. Arabic? Uh, we’re in trouble. Behind the counter, we can see and hear everything that’s happening in the kitchen. They are busy and moving fast. To our left, a couple sits at the counter. The girl takes a bite of a pita sandwich. Steve hears her say something in English, so he leans over and asks what she’s eating. She stops just as she’s about to bite into it and very happily tells him, “The beef bourguignon. It’s amazing.”

Steve is sold. Thankfully, we find another menu in French. I can at least sort of navigate this. We heard that the cauliflower sandwich is a favorite, so I think we should get that, too.

Two seats open up at the counter, next to the couple we saw earlier. Once seated, we sit and watch the crowded and lively place at work. It’s loud, but inviting. The guy next to us leans over. “There’s bread and dips over there. They won’t tell you, but you can just go over and take it.”

Oh, wow, thanks for the intel! Steve walks over while I hold our seats. After a bit, the beef bourguignon, wrapped in brown paper, is handed to me across the counter. Why, oh why do I not take a picture of this amazing treat? Because it looks so good and my mouth is watering. The thin, doughy pita envelopes big chunks of tender beef in just the right amount of sauce. Steve returns with some bread and dips and I immediately take a bite. Oh my God. The beef is so tender and the flavors are so, so good. The cauliflower arrives and doesn’t look nearly as good. It doesn’t taste as good either. But the beef bourguignon…

Clamato:

Septime is our first choice, but near impossible to get a reservation, so we settle on a restaurant owned by the same people. Still, it’s at least an hour wait, so the host sends us across the street to a wine bar, the little sister to Septime, called Septime La Cave. A very tine wine store and bar, the place is packed (probably with people waiting to get into Septime or Clamato). It is here that Steve and I enjoy are favorite and extremely affordable red wine that we have not been able to find anywhere else. Il fait soif.

At Clamato, we’re seated at the bar – always our first pick anyway, so we’re thrilled. It’s a nice meal, but what stands out most is our bartender. So warm and friendly that he actually comes around the counter at the end of our meal to take a picture with us and exchange contact information. When we get in the Uber afterwards, Steve is so excited.

“Our server guy gave me a hug!” I know. “And he said, I don’t give my card to everybody! And I said, I don’t give hugs to everybody!” I know, you’re such a nerd. “Babe. I know. That’s why people like me. Because I make them feel good because I’m so corny.”

The next recommendation comes from Steve’s cousin, Laura.

Chez Michel:

chez

Definitely a splurge, so we go for lunch. The only option is a 3-course meal – appetizer, entree, and dessert. If only we were hungrier when we walk through the door! This is probably our best full meal in Paris. Everything is excellent – you can’t go wrong with anything. I promise myself I will only eat one bite of each dessert because I’m so full, but I can’t help myself.

Another recommendation comes from our concierge at the hotel.

Biondi:

biondi

An Argentinean spot with a very small menu. I love small menus. It’s very easy to decide on empanadas and octopus to start, then Churrasco to split. Thank God we split the skirt steak because it is massive. And so, so delicious (my kind of steak because it’s so thin). And the chimichurri served in a little jar on the side for dipping is so tasty that I have to ask for seconds.

The ambience is lovely with its dim lighting. The wine is wonderful, even though it’s a small selection, and at the end of the meal, our server gives each of us an aperitif on the house.

On our long list of recommendations, the following is the only one recommended to us by Steve’s friend, Andrew. He tells us it will be the best steak we’ve ever eaten.

Robert et Louise:

I’m not a big steak person, so we’re indecisive about going, but on our first night in Paris, we walk right by it. I yell, Robert et Louise! There it is! It’s an adorably warm, dark blue restaurant on a cute, walkable street. We peer in. Looks cozy and inviting. Not only is it in a great location, but they can squeeze us in for a reservation.

We arrive around 8:30pm. As soon as we walk through the door, we pass a man at the bar and I do a double take. I totally recognize that guy. An older gentleman with gray hair and piercing light blue eyes. Who is he?? But we’re already being seated at our table. Or rather, a four-top where two burly men sit facing each other at the two seats against the wall. Steve and I take our seats, each of us next to the two big men. It’s a tiny table in a tiny restaurant. There’s no way we can sit here next to these men and not at least say hi. It would be awkward. So out course, we do. They speak English. They’re not French, but they’re not American either. They’re Irish. They have thick accents and they make us laugh. We get to know each other for a bit, and find out that they both work in the fashion industry and they’re here on business.

I’m seated facing the front door, and right next to the front door is the man at the bar. I can’t stop looking at him. I for sure know him. And then it clicks. Yes! During the first leg of our trip, when Steve and I were in New York, we went to this wonderful place one night, where a man plays at the piano and different people in the audience come up to sing songs. But not just any people. Really, really talented singers. They’re so good and they are clearly having so much fun up there. It’s such a fun night.

This guy at the bar, he was one of the singers. I’m sure of it. I tell Steve but he’s reluctant to agree. We just happened to see this guy in New York and now a couple weeks later we’re seeing him in Paris?? What are the odds? But I’ve had a couple glasses of wine and now our new friends are egging me on. Fine, I’m going over there to find out.

I walk over to the bar, only steps away from where we’re sitting. The man is sitting with another man at the bar, having a conversation. I stand between them.

Excusez-moi. Tu es Americain?

He turns towards me, slightly surprised. “Yes.”

Did you perform at The Duplex a couple weeks ago? “Yes.” I saw you there! You were wonderful!

robert

The older man with the big, blue eyes smiles in disbelief. What a small world. I tell him that Steve and I saw him perform, and point over to where Steve is sitting. The man looks over and Steve and our two new friends goofily smile and wave at us. He’s very friendly as we talk a bit more. It’s his first time in Paris. He is staying at a hotel across the street and just decided to come in here with his friend for a drink. So random.

I go back to our table. The guys are laughing. I guess when people at neighboring tables saw our exchange, they wondered who the man at the bar was. Was he famous? Well, he was famous enough for me.

We continue with our dinner – which is marvelous. Steve says it’s the best steak he’s ever eaten. I’m more in love with the rillete we start with. So tasty. We’re having a wonderful conversation with our two friends and they have me laughing so hard. Steve and I have been on a Grand Marnier kick, so he orders a round for the table. At one point, I laugh, in that loud way that I do, and get a tap on the shoulder.

I turn to see our server. He looks at me and puts a finger to his lips. “Shh.”  It’s curt and rude and unexpected. I’m taken aback, immediately apologetic. The table seated closely on the other side of us must have complained or made a face? I don’t know. I turn around the other way, to look at them, and apologize. No one seems bothered by my laughter. Either way, I’m embarrassed. But not for long. Our friends, who are big and bold and loud, start making a fuss. “I guess you’re not allowed to have fun here. No laughing!” One of them bellows out in forced laughter, and I have to cover my mouth. I love them.

The server – I guess he feels embarrassed now – apologizes to me. I tell him it’s totally fine. But then he comes over with the bottle of Grand Marnier, tops us all off, and apologizes again. The guys cheer. We must be the loudest people in here.

It’s a wonderful night. And a wonderful way to end our trip.

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