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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Eateries - Day 1

Considering I expected to have 5 or 6 posts from Paris during this month I'm only on my second. Being there for 2 evenings it will come as no surprise to know we ate out twice. Two very different styles, two very different experiences.

Le Vieux Belleville

This, I would say, is what you expect when you think of a Parisian eaterie. A cafe with basic furniture, yet comfortable enough, a menu written on chalk boards that changes daily, and entertainment which on our day was the woman in the centre of the page playing the accordion. Belleville is in the North East part of Paris and at the same altitude as Sacre Couer and just round the corner from the restaraunt is a small area with views over the city.

The first thing to comment on was that unlike the UK, where it is considered the height of effrontery to ask for water with the meal, here you could not stop it. Bottle after bottle of still water arrived, all free, and baskets of fresh baguettes. No small print mentioning a £2.50 surcharge for bread in this establishment. I could quite happily have dined out on that!
But instead I had a pate for starter. A little bit of a safe choice but excellent. A companion had a salad called Mali Melo which tends to be whatever is available with a honey dressing. So good did it look that I chose that the next day as my starter even though I don't like honey. And the thought of me having a salad for starter! The main course was veal. You never see it here now, or incredibly rarely. It wasn't a thin escalope but a proper "chunk" and so tender that it really did "melt in the mouth". Cooked pretty much as braising steak.

To finish, A Creme Caramel. A proper creme caramel. Firmer than we normally get here and just the right amount of caramel not to overpower the body of the dessert. Being two thirds made up of French people, our party also got through a reasonable amount of wine. Just the house wine but it certainly went down well.



The entertainment consisted, as mentioned before, of a woman playing the accordion. But that was not the full extent of it. Before each song she would hand out sheet music and we would all sing along.


These were songs of Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and what must have been songs from the music hall era. Everyone joined in, even those who would not usually be caught singing in public. Between songs she would find out where all the diners had come from. The place holds about 30-40 covers and amongst us we numbered, apart from the French, English, Welsh, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and even Colombian. You could call this a tourist trap and yet quite a few locals popped in for a quick drink and a sing.

We left about midnight. Mainly because the metro stops at half past and we wanted to get back, but most people seemed to work on the fact they would stay till she finished and they'd get home somehow. The bill? £27.00 each. And worth every penny.

4 Comments:

  • I have never yet made it to Paris, your make it sound like a lot of fun, unlike some writers.

    By Blogger Toffeeapple, At 12:34 PM  

  • You, not your! Tut.

    By Blogger Toffeeapple, At 12:34 PM  

  • Twenty seven quid sounds like a bargain for that little lot!

    I've been to Paris twice. The first was with a vegetarian girlfiend. We lived on Crepe Suzette for a whole weekend. The second time was with Mrs M... and we ate VERY well.

    By Blogger Masher, At 8:26 PM  

  • Toffeeapple - Paris is a fun city but I'm probably a bit biased being such a Francophile. It's so easy to get there for us now, with Eurostar. It would be a little expensive but we are talking easy enough for a day trip. Then again, with the cost of petrol only about the same cost as a tank of petrol, and they do occasionally do discount fares.

    Masher - Either sounds like great dining to me!

    By Blogger kennamatic, At 7:26 AM  

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