Last night in Paris but where to eat. It was a very cold night. About 2 degrees Celsius with a bit of gentle wind. I have been assigned a task to look for a good place to eat, and hopefully I make the right choice for a memorable time trip to Paris.
I was glad I did made the right choice. It was an unsuspected choice. I chose a different restaurant initially. A four minutes walk from where we are staying. My first selection criteria is that the restaurant has to be under five minutes walk. It was too cold to walk. Second criteria is that it has to be a real French food with local people eating there. “Itineraires” was my first choice. There was not that many that meet my first criteria. At least not that I know with limited knowledge on the area. I depended a lot on Google Place and Trip Advisor when I searched for my choice of place to eat. I read from other reviewers that Itinerairies is a modern and stylish modern French restaurant with degustation menu. It is also on the pricier end. And, the food is very good. The restaurant met my first criteria of being really close to our location. But, not the second criteria.
How I found the restaurant we ended up with was that I Googled Map for direction to Itinerairies. I found that there is another restaurant with the symbol of a fork and a spoon that indicates an eating place – “Le Petit Pontoise”. Next, I googled to read some reviewers’s comments on their experiences. The first two comments already convinced me that we should eat at Le Petit Pontoise. Both reviewers rave about the food, and how the customers were mainly French. That should meet my second criteria for our last night dinner in Paris.
It took us four minutes to walk there on Rue de Pontoise. We walked past Itinerairies. It is a small, stylish restaurants with white linen table cloth. All the tables are closely packed together. I was told by a local that the best places in Paris are those that are small and compact. Most Americans are not accustomed to sitting and sharing the tables with other customers, which we found from a New York couple at a different night’s dinner. They were very happy that they sat next to us, and when the wife heard us speaking in English and not French. I have more to say about this American couple, but in another post.
As we walked past Itinerairies, I told my partner that we can walked further down and check out Le Petit Pontoise. If we don’t like how it looks from the outside, we can walk back which is five doors away. There was another restaurant in between Itinerairies and Le Petit Pontoise.
Our first impression of Le Petit Pontoise was very positive. It looks French, slightly bigger than Itinerairies, casual and comfortable, with blackboard menus written in French. We opened the front door. There were two ladies in there. One was the owner and the othe younger woman was the FOH staff. We looked at each other. They were waiting firus to say something. We both greeted by saying, “Bonsoir Madame, …” ” do you have a table for two please?” I could tell they were not sure whether to offer us a table. I read that the good French restaurant prefers customers to call and book a table and it is customary to do so. We took the chances on all the places we ate on our trip. We were lucky that the owner told the younger woman to set the table at the back furthest corner. An ideal table for me. I always prefer to sit further away so I can observe the other tables. We were the first customers to arrive. I could tell that most of the other tables were booked.
One other thing I found out is that, and from a well travelled friend, is the local will be nice to us once they know we are from Australia. And, he is right. I guess we are more friendly and make an effort to speak French and understand their local customs. I have to admit that we had a fantastic time at Le Petit Pontoise. A great experience, eating French food in a French restaurant in Paris. Every single dish we had were superb. I had nothing to complain, which is strange. I would normally have a teeny weeny bit to say. But, not at Le Petit Pontoise. Everything about this place is real French. There was no pretense. The service was friendly, casual and relax. The restaurant was fully packed by the time we left.
We were given an English translated menu, which is exactly ad the French menu on the blackboards on the wall. All the dishes in the menu sounds so good. They got goat cheese, homemade foie gras, snails, duck terrine, pig cheek, frog legs, quail, duck and seafood. We chose Snails cooked in Garlic Butter (€12) and Panfried Crystal Blue Shrimps (€14.50) for entree. Main we had Roasted Quails with Grapes (€23) and Pigs Cheeks with Honey and Spices (£23), ending with a dessert, Grandmother’s Tart Tatin (€10.50).
The two entrees were quite unexpected. The snails came in a small bronze saucepan with slices of mushrooms cooked in the garlic butter sauce and parsley. Plenty of sauce for us to soaked up with the bread. It was very, very good.
The panfried crystal blue shrimps was also a splendid surprise. I expected to see small shrimps, not a generous size prawns. They were three prawns perfectly pan fried and served with fresh salad and citrus fruits. A great combination of textures and flavours. Simple and yet delicious.
Next, our mains. Pig cheeks and quails.
First mouthful and we were both smiling at each other. What an excellent dish! They were both homestyle and comfort food. Perfect for the cold winter night. This was the first time I have ever tasted pig cheeks and I just love it! So flavoursome and tender. The pig cheeks were slow cooked in a rich honey spiced sauce. It came in an oval shaped cast iron cassole pot. When I get back to Melbourne, I am going to have to seek out where I can buy pig cheeks and have a go in my cooking.
I was very surprised that after my second course, I was still able to eat a dessert. Not on my own , but shared with my partner. The grandma’s tart tatin was freshly baked. We cleaned out the plate. Should have ordered one each.
We had the best time in Paris, and Le Petit Pontoise was a nice way to end our stay in Paris.