I had huge food dreams going into my trip to Paris. I’d been once before, and had some of the delicious but cliche items like pain au chocolat and macaroons. And of course, I had those again, but I also expanded my culinary horizons and went to some exceptional restaurants. While I did end up going to a few of my pre-planned, pre-researched restaurant choices, we also did a good amount of exploring, and went to places all across the board in terms of cuisine, ambiance, and price.
Le Severo –
After traveling for 10+ hours, Le Severo was our first big meal in Paris. We stopped at La Rotund de Saint Honore for a light lunch that afternoon, but I was saving room for the steak frites I’d read about. I had the concierge at the hotel call and make a reservation for us, which was smart seeing as I don’t speak much French, and the every seat in the restaurant ended up being taken.
The ambiance was small, cute, and quaint. My favorite touch was the illustrations of butchering cows and the different cuts of mean drawn in chalk on the walls. The server was attentive and knowledgeable, and recommended a delicious bottle of wine.
We decided to go for the Cote de Bouff for two, served with frites. It was amazing. I loved the rare cook, and the salty seasoning. There were a few pieces that had a lot of fat which I decided to cut off, but besides that, it was near perfection. The frites were absolutely incredible too. I love sauce, and these didn’t even need any! This was a great spot for a more casual yet nice dining experience for steak frites in Paris.
Au Passage –
I had Au Passage on my list of restaurants before we arrived, but the night we went, we actually tried to go to two different spots first. After being turned down at Ober Mama and Clown Bar, I realized we were only a few blocks from Au Passage. My google maps took us down a slightly sketchy alley, and into one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever been to.
It was small, trendy, and no frills inside. We sat at the bar since we didn’t have a reservation, and had the pleasure of working with a super knowledgeable and friendly bartender. He recommended some great wine, and we ordered five tapas dishes.
The food was absolutely amazing. Plated beautifully, and smart flavor combinations. Here’s a breakdown of the tapas we got:
- House Made Summer Sausage: So delicious! You could taste the freshness. Paired with some pickles and fresh bread, this was the perfect starter, especially for two people who grew up in Wisconsin!
- Mussels in saffron cream sauce: I was very impressed with this dish. Not only was it beautiful, the flavor was amazing. I ate every last drop of the saffron cream sauce off the plate. The cucumber, dill, and little flowers added nice light compliments too.
- Foie Gras: I had to get some fresh foie gras while in France. Au Passage did not disappoint. It was so rich, creamy, and delicious. The consistency was great, glistening and just thick enough. It was a really large portion too, super filling but worth it completely.
- Octopus: This octopus dish was different than the usual grilled octopus I’ve gotten at other restaurants. It must have been cooked differently, because it was the most tender, soft, and buttery octopus I’ve ever tasted. It was served with a chipotle sauce and some red onion—very flavorful combination.
- Duck Breast: This dish was so rich and flavorful. The duck breast was served with a white bean puree, greens, and a lovely red wine reduction. It was the perfect “main dish” for our tapas dinner, and paired beautifully with the wine our waiter had recommended!
We absolutely loved our evening at Au Passage, and were so happy our prior plans fell through! I would highly recommend to anyone looking for small plates in Paris.
Le Calife Cruise –
My dad booked this cruise for me as a gift, and I was really looking forward to it. I thought that the main draw was going to be the chance to see the whole city during sunset, but the food was much more than you’d expect from a cruise! There were four courses, each one very enjoyable (except the cheese course for me personally). The menu gave you the ability to choose from a list of 4 or 5 for each course. For my starter, I had the foie gras pastry. It was really delicious, flaky puff pastry and rich foie gras paired nicely together. For my main, I had the duck breast. It was SO flavorful. I really enjoyed the honey glaze that was drizzled over it. The cheese course looked good, but being lactose intolerant I only had a few bites. And finally dessert. I had their take on tiramisu, and was great! I am not a huge dessert person, but it was tasty and enjoyable. And of course, you couldn’t beat the fantastic views. Le Calife was a great option for a cruise on the Seine!
Les Papilles –
Las Papilles was on my list of restaurants from my initially research. On our way to the Luxembourg Gardens, we stumbled upon it and it seemed like fate! We had a big dinner to follow that night, so we decided to split two dishes, and wow was it incredible.
First, we had the escargot. It was my first escargot in France on the trip, and it did not disappoint. Very flavorful, salty, and delicious herb butter sauce. Highly recommend (which I did, to the table next to us!)
For the second dish, we got the Boudin Noir. It was served over a potato puree with roasted vegetables, and came with a pot of gravy. The flavors were so amazing. The boudin was tender, puree was the perfect texture, and the gravy was to die for. I actually ended up pouring extra gravy into the escargot dish, and dipping my bread into it – very smart move.
La Table de Eugene –
This was my choice for a Michelin star dining experience. Off the beaten path, it wasn’t the neighborhood you’d expect to find a Michelin star restaurant in. It was well hidden, unable to see inside from the outside. We had reservations for 7:30pm, which was the time they opened for dinner service, and had to wait outside until that very time for the doors to open. By the time we left, the small restaurant was completely filled to capacity.
The ambiance inside was lovely. It was small and classy, which tasteful and simple décor. The staff was extremely knowledgeable and attentive. We opted for the 5 course tasting menu with wine pairing—and it was a great decision. Not usually straying away from red wine, I really enjoyed the chance to try a variety of white French wines, which all paired beautifully with each course, and were accompanied by a story from the sommelier.
Not included in the five courses, our first “course” was an amuse bouche. There were three small dishes—a celery sorbet served with mushroom and puffed rice (the original had mozzarella, but I had the no cheese version), a blue corn tortilla chip with some sort of puree and fish (I honestly don’t remember what kind), and a watermelon cube! Very beautifully plated and nice palate cleansers.
Next, our first real course was a hamachi crudo, served with avocado and blueberries, with a red pepper and hibiscus broth. This was a really nice dish, with the mellow hibiscus flavor perfectly complementing the pepper. I drank every last drop of that broth!
Next, we had fillet of red snapper, served over a squid ink sauce with a vegetable foam. It was also served with spheres of zucchini and meringue, topped with a seaweed crisp. I loved this dish. Not only was it gorgeous, the fish was cooked perfectly and the flavors just exploded in your mouth. This set the expectation for the next courses super high.
The third dish was also incredible. It was a house made ravioli filled with chicken, topped with peanuts, a mushroom sauce, and a light foam. Something about the crunching peanuts and the perfectly tender pasta was just a melt in your mouth perfect combination. There were only three ravioli, and I could have easily eaten 20. This was a dish that I would love to attempt to recreate because I’ve never had anything quite like it!
Dish number four was like a work of art. Three pieces of succulent rabbit, served over a pea puree and fresh peas, a light foam, and gravy poured over right at the table. This dish was comforting and delicious. At this point in the meal, I understood why the portion sizes had to be small to eat all of the courses.
Now onto dessert. Dish number five was not only one dessert, but three! First was the pre-dessert. This was a thin biscotti type crisp, served over hazelnut ice cream and pumpkin seeds. The combination worked nicely and it was light and crispy. Next, for my main dessert I was served a special panna cotta (I couldn’t have the cheesecake that was the original dessert). The panna cotta was amazing – perfect texture and served with fresh raspberries, cherries, and a raspberry cookie crumble. And finally the post dessert. At first glance, it looked like a solid chocolate ball. But then the waiter came over and poured a hot chocolate sauce over the chocolate ball, and it slowly broke away the shell and revealed more chocolate! To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what it was, but we were told it was their signature. It was rich, delicious, and any chocolate lovers dream.
La Table de Eugene was an incredible dining experience. It was also extremely affordable for a Michelin star restaurant in Paris. The food and the experience were both unforgettable, and I can taste the dishes now as I write this. I am so glad we decided to do the wine pairing as well, because it really added to the experience.
It’s no wonder Paris is a global culinary destination. So many of my food dreams came true on this trip, and I can’t wait to make more next time! Also, don’t underestimate the deliciousness of a street baguette sandwich or crepe! There is good food to be found around every corner and at every price point.
Cheers from the Eiffel Tower! 🙂