Thursday, September 21

This year’s trip to Europe follows the pattern of our 2016 trip, with two days in Paris at the beginning and three at the end, staying with our friends Ana and Bertrand in La Varenne, and six days of touring in between.  This year our tour will be to Normandy and Brittany, which I will post about as it evolves.

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Quai Winston Churchill, La Varenne-St. Hilaire

Once again, we had a very nice flight on Norwegian, arriving on time. We found a cab driver whose GPS led us faultlessly to 79 Quai Winston Churchill, giving us just enough time to say hi to Ana and Bertrand before hurrying off to lunch at Clown Bar, the very trendy bistro in the trendy 11th Arrondissement.

Clown Bar

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This is one of two restaurants we are trying this time that are run by Japanese-born chefs, and combine Asian influences with French technique.  The food was as fabulous as we had hoped.  We started with three appetizers and then shared one main course (everything is a la carte).  First up was a bowl of calf brains and a plate of tempura sardines with a red pepper cream dipping sauce, both outstanding.  Next was steak tartare, which, though we would have preferred it to have more spice, was nonetheless delicious, and helped by the generous amount of black pepper that I added.  The main course was pigeon, cooked perfectly rare, with the most wonderful potatoes.  We were quite filled, so no dessert, just two coffees.  With a bottle of an interesting wine from the Ardeche, “Le Canon” 2013, the bill came to 114 euros.

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The atmosphere is rather no-frills, with the exception of the gorgeous ceiling and bar.  The servers were very cordial and attentive, really nice people.  This is a fun place.

After lunch, we headed back to La Varenne, where we first stopped off at the Spanish gourmet shop to buy several bottles of Pedro Ximenez Sherry, then visited with Ana and Bertrand before we all headed off to dinner at Le Radis Beurre in the 13th.  We were excited to return there after the wonderful lunch we had there last year.

Le Radis Beurre

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Once again the food was superb, and Ana and Bertrand were thrilled to try it.  The three-course menu at 35 euros is a steal, and the menu changes daily, though the signature appetizer of pig’s feet seems to always be available.  Bertrand and I started with that, while Stanley and Ana had the pate de campagne.  For the main course, I had beef tongue with mashed potatoes and gaufrettes, and the others had confit of lamb belly with Paimpol beans.  Both dishes were exquisite.  For dessert, Stanley had a poached pear with ice cream and chocolate sauce, while the rest of us had rice pudding with caramel sauce.  With a bottle of Cotes du Roussillon, Les Milleres 2015, the total was 175 euros.

As before, the service was very friendly and professional, and the atmosphere simple but elegant.

Friday, September 22

Friday morning, after a rather fitful sleep, I took it easy and started writing this post.  Then we headed into Paris again for lunch at Amarante, once again revisiting a favorite from last year’s trip.


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Once again, I started with thin-sliced cold veal tongue.  Stanley had foie gras.  Then I had the pintade and he had tripe.  The lunch menu is a great deal at 19 euros.  We had a bottle of Cotes du Rhone, and the total with two coffees was 70 euros.

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After lunch, we went to the Petit Palais to see the special exhibits, one of pastels and the other of the Swedish artist Anders Zorn.  They were well put together and the building is magnificent.

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By then it was late afternoon, so we had just enough time to get back to La Varenne and relax a bit before going back into Paris for dinner at Tomy & Co. in the 7th.  Tomy Gousset was formerly the chef at Pirouette, and opened his own restaurant a year ago.  We didn’t manage to try it then, so it was on our list for this trip.

Tomy & Co.

Photo Sep 22, 9 38 20 PMPhoto Sep 22, 8 48 26 PMPhoto Sep 22, 7 59 04 PMPhoto Sep 22, 8 01 01 PMWe opted for the three course menu at 47 euros (with 6 euro supplements on two of the dishes).  Stanley started with gnocchi with black truffles, a lovely dish, though the truffles did not have the intense flavor of the ones we’ve had in Piemonte (see my post on that from last year).  I began with an interesting variation on tete de veau that was very good.  Our main courses were confit of shoulder of chevreuil (roe deer) topped with foie gras, and duck breast with beets, both delicious.  For dessert we ordered figs with cream sauce, and a Granny Smith apple ice with tapioca.  They brought us an extra dessert, which was a chocolate tart with nuts (this was actually the best of them all).

With a bottle of Cahors at 25 euros, the total was 131 euros.

After dinner, we stopped at Gare de Lyon to pick up the rental car for the trip to Normandy and Brittany, and drove back to La Varenne.  My report on Normandy is coming up next.




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