Monday, May 11, 2009
We had a family birthday to celebrate this week and we did so by going out for steak frites. There are a number of places around Paris that do this well and my guess is that it's better to stick with the one in your quartier than to run around town looking for the ultimate.
In some ways, it is the quintessential Parisian meal and some ways it's the polar opposite. First of all, for dinner, you must show up at or before 7 (crazy early by French standards) or risk having to wait an hour and a half for the second sitting. When we walked up before the doors opened this time, there was a long line which, instead of wrapping around the building and heading down the sidewalk, went straight out from the door into the street. Yes, people were standing in the middle of the intersection in anticipation, and that should tell you something about the food.
Once you're in, it's all business -- eat and get out, no lingering -- but oh the meal. It's simple and straightforward: a small salad drenched in dressing and sprinkled with nuts, sliced steak served in a mustardy sauce, and piles of hot matchstick french fries. Your only choices are the wine and dessert, that is, if you still have room after the server comes around for the second time to dish out more steak and fries. I always plan to say "no thanks" to the seconds but who am I kidding? It's all I can do not to lick the plate clean. Maybe next time I'll be more abstemious. But then again, maybe not.