Paris Journal 2015 – Barbara Joy Cooley Home: barbarajoycooley.com
Browsing through Lafourchette.com’s listings reminds me of how many of the best restaurants with great food and good value are in the 15th arrondissement. That is partly due to the sheer size of the 15th: it is the largest arrondissement, if you do not count the ones that contain the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, which are huge parks.
But it is also due to the nature of the 15th; while it is central Paris (particularly the northern half of it), it is not that touristy. And it contains amenities for Parisians that make urban life easier and more pleasant – such as the Parc André Citroën.
So, many restaurants in the 15th focus on real Parisians as their primary market/clientele. Parisians will not dine in tourist traps that aren’t up to snuff.
Many foreigners who temporarily or permanently relocate to Paris for their jobs also choose to live in the 15th, for the same reasons that Parisians do, but also because of proximity to multi-lingual schools for their children. That’s how we met our friends Alan and Deb as well as their kids and cat.
I have a feeling that we will be dining mostly in the 15th arrondissement this summer, because we will not be moving to the 6th in September, and because the restaurant options here are so good and plentiful.
Last night we reserved at place at La Table D’Hubert. We began our stroll down to the southern part of the 15th at a leisurely pace, but after a pleasant stop and chat with a shopkeeper on the rue du Commerce, we had to quicken our pace. We arrived under the restaurant’s awning just as Hubert was walking in the door, and just as rain began to sprinkle.
Hubert greeted us warmly and gave us our choice of the two best tables. He brought us a couple of complimentary kirs, and a small dish of homemade biscuits. Half of the biscuits were topped by a nice slice of saucisson, and the other half were embedded with slivers of cheese similar to Parmesan (perhaps a Salers?).
We sipped and nibbled as we studied the menu. Both of us decided on the rack of lamb for the main course. I selected the asparagus-and-tomato tart for the starter course, and Tom selected the lemon tart for the dessert.
I love it when restaurants treat vegetables as if they really matter; too many restaurants back home do not do this, even the best ones.
At La Table D’Hubert, vegetables matter. The asparagus in the tart was of the large, pale yellow variety, and the tomato slice was like the best of Florida tomatoes. These were cooked to savory softness in a quiche-like medium, on a tasty homemade crust. The slice of tart was accompanied by a fresh little salad with a dabbling of snappy vinaigrette. Bravo!
The racks of lamb were tender, thick and juicy. They were partially sliced and arranged in a spiral, atop a puddle of rich, dark mushroom sauce and soft slices of flavorful mushrooms. Another small salad sat at the side of the plate, but more importantly, a pile of julienned zucchini that had been cooked in butter until really done, but not overdone, was a prime character in the dinner.
The slice of lemon tart was generous, and good. It had texture, due to some pieces of lemon zest, I think. The taste was custardy and lemony, and not too sweet.
The restaurant filled up as we dined. A Japanese-American family entered and asked if the food was genuinely French. Hubert assured them that it was, and he gave them the best big table in the back dining area. Other than that, we were surrounded by young urban professional Parisians.
After that satisfying and utterly pleasant dining experience, the rain had ceased and we strolled back up the Avenue Felix Faure, stopping in the Monoprix on Convention so that Tom could find some shaving gel.
Today I went up to the market under the elevated train tracks on the Boulevard de Grenelle. It is only open on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. As long as you go early, it is a good place for a walk because the market is extensive; there’s much to see, and smell.
I was hoping to visit the housewares vendor to buy doorstops, but that wide space was mysteriously vacant. It was the only vacant spot in the entire market stretch.
I stopped into Monoprix to buy the body lotion I like, which I saw there last year. But no, it isn’t there – not at either Monoprix (Convention and Grenelle). I’ll have to decide on something new.
At mid-day, we went out together to shop for some clothes that Tom needed. For the sort of thing he was searching for, The Gap seemed like a good choice. There’s one right across from the Grenelle Monoprix. But The Gap prices were ridiculous.
We left that store and crossed the street to Monoprix where Tom found what he wanted. The line at the cashier was way too long. We were amused by our cashier’s periodic phone calls to her manager, in which she sarcastically insisted on backup; one of the cashier’s desks was not occupied, and that was not helpful.
Everywhere we go, Parisians seem frenzied and hurried – such a big city state of affairs! As the month goes on and more of them leave on vacation, the city will calm down – especially after Bastille day. One more week . . . .
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
A very pretty bakery that we frequently pass, on the Avenue Felix Faure.
Part of the dining room and bar area at La Table D’Hubert. This restaurant was once called Aux Trois Chevrons, and was owned by Serge Bonis – a friend of Sanibel’s Jean-Paul, who used to own The French Corner on that island.
The juicy rack of lamb on rich mushroom sauce with a pile of buttery julienned zucchini.