I was in Paris a few weeks ago and I managed to eat at some amazing restaurants. Even with a baby on my lap.
My husband told me to meet him for dinner at Terroir Parisian in the 6th after he was done work. He had heard it was a casual bistro serving French classics done right. He had also heard the chef, Yannik Alléno, has 3 Michelin stars for his other restaurant Alléno Paris. When we all arrived, our “casual bistro” was a bit more upscale than the joints you see on almost every corner in city. We had a mild freakout- oh shiiiiiit, we brought a baby….. But with other patrons and their humungous dogs sprawled out underneath the tables inside the restaurant, we realized that although the interior was fancy, the ambiance was not. I guess this is how you do casual-Michelin dining.
I ordered the toddler an amazing croque-monsieur off the kids menu. Yes, there was a kids menu that had fresh pressed apricot juice on it- Loving the French even more. Unfortunately for my aspirations for kiddo’s palette, he would only eat pretzels. Our child had decided early on in the trip that he would only eat pretzels, croissants, and bananas while in Paris. We had the sandwich for lunch the next day, it was amazing- not too cheesy, and just enough béchamel surrounding chunks of locally sourced ham. That’s the thing with this restaurant, it is known for sourcing its ingredients locally, and chef Alléno was one of the first chefs in Paris to ignite this dining trend. So although the menu read casual, the food was anything but. And the wine list- we split a bottle of the 2011 Haut-Médoc Bordeaux.
My husband and I shared an artichoke salad with a simple vinagrette. Actually, the vinagrette I’ve mentioned earlier on in my blog that I learned how to make from all the French mothers I encountered in Montreal. We also shared a chicken liver terrine encased in puff pastry: classic French, yet modern. For our mains I had a ribeye with bearnaise, husband had some sort of foul in broth with spring vegetables. For desert: a cheese course and a tart tatin.
We also managed to eat at chef Yves Camdeborde’s Le Comptoir du Relais (6, Carrefour de l’Odéon), also in the Left Bank’s 6th Arrondissement. I’m not really sure how we managed to get in, we definitely did not have a reservation (it can take Months to get a reservation), and we had the baby. But we did and it was pretty amazing. We started off with toasts slathered in lemon marmalade and topped with chunks of foie gras. O.M.G. Kiddo actually ate it too. I had more steak, husband ordered milk braised pork with poached vegetables. And for such a big name chef, the ambiance was again, super casual- the specials were written on a mirror overlooking the dining room, and not a white tablecloth in sight.
We also discovered a “classic” Parisian bistro, patrons avec un verre du vin rouge, languidly chain smoking Gauloises underneath a red awning, near the Louvre by accident (Le Montaigne, 7, rue de Ponthieu). This one was not by a Michelin starred chef, but their bistro classics were superb, and the staff was very pleasant.
-best quality olive oil
-red wine vinegar
-whole grain mustard
-1 clove garlic, minced
-salt & freshly ground black pepper
-juice of half a lemon
-additional add-ins: juice of half a lime, walnut oil, balsamic vinegar (the older the better), a teaspoon of sugar or honey
-Since I was taught how to make this by using judgement and pretty much eyeballing the measurements, that is exactly how I will tell you to make this:
-In a short glass tumbler, pour in your oil. You will need enough for however big your salad is going to be, and if you would like to have leftover dressing or not.
-Next, add in the vinegar. The more you add, the more acidic your dressing will be. Remember, you’ll be adding in citrus which is also tart.
-Next, add in a heaping teaspoon (the type of spoon you use to put sugar into your coffee) of each mustard.
-Pinch your salt in, grind some black pepper in, add your garlic, and squeeze your citrus juice in
-Whisk with a fork until emulsified.
I like to add in the balsamic sometimes, while adding in a squeeze of lime juice gives it another dimension. You can add sweetness or not, it really depends on how bitter your salad greens are and whether you want to play that up or neutralize it.
Kind of a chaotic recipe, right? What this not-recipe (to quote Food52) will teach you is how to trust your palette and develop your good judgment as to how you want your dressing, and salad, to turn out.