adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

Chez Paul, Je t’aime

I think I'm still full from my dinner last Sunday night.  It was the kind of meal that left me happy and stuffed to the gills, yet I still wanted to lick the plate and make sure I'd consumed every last morsel.  The kind of meal that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.  The kind of meal I'm sure I"ll never find anywhere else. Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you:  Chez Paul.

It was an absolutely delightful evening filled with great friends, a beautiful atmosphere and unbelievable food.  Tucked away on a quiet street in the Bastille neighborhood of Paris, Chez Paul is a traditional French restaurant has been around since the late 1940s. The Hub recommended that my friends and I go for dinner while in town and after we read the menu online, we practically ran to the restaurant.  We joked on the way there that maybe we'd be lucky enough to even meet Paul, but we quickly learned from our server that he passed away quite some time ago.  The "new" head chef of the restaurant worked with Paul for over 20 years before taking over and has kept it running ever since. Abby, Stéphanie, Jimmy and I sat outside on the patio and absorbed ourselves in the menu as though we hadn't already decided what we wanted to order hours earlier (yeah right).

handwritten menu - so charming!!

We decided to each order an appetizer and share all four.  We picked the Escargots de Bourgogne, beurre persillé (Snails in garlicky parsley butter), Rillettes de lapin au romarin - "Spécialité Maison" (Rillettes of Rabbit with Rosemary - a House Specialty), Os à moelle, pain grillé et gros sel (Bone Marrow with Toasted Bread and Salt) and Salade d'Artichauts Violets (Purple Artichoke Salad).

escargots - j'adore

spread the bone marrow on the toast and top with lots of salt!

the beautiful artichoke salad

It was my first time eating rabbit and I was very surprised to find that the rilletes looked like shredded chicken. (Forgot to take a picture, sorry!)   Much whiter than I was expecting.  I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it.  For me, the surprise hit was the escargots.  My. God.  Were they amazing!  I've had escargots a few times since moving here, but never like this.  They were perfection.  We ordered the small and we should have had the large.  The bone marrow was delightful and the artichoke salad was a nice contrast to the heaviness of the other dishes. That alone could have satisfied me, but we still had our plats, or main courses, to go!  Abby picked the Steak au poivre flambé cognac, gratin dauphinois (Peppered Steak with Gratin Potatoes), Stéphanie picked the Steak tartare «Spécialité Maison »  pommes sautées, salade verte (Steak tartare "House Speciality" fried potatoes, green salad) which I had to tease her about because Stéphanie gets steak tartare everywhere we go!  But since it was a house specialty, it seemed appropriate. Jimmy and I decided to split the Epaule d’agneau fondante et croquante, mogettes et légumes du moment (Lamb Shoulder with Mogette beans and Vegetables of the Moment), which was made for two.

the steak tartare

i still see it in my dreams

the legumes du moment turned out to be this lovely salad

Stêphanie declared her meal the best steak tartare of her life - which really says something!  Abby's steak was cooked perfectly (unusual in France) and the potatoes were to die for.  I'm still bummed I didn't get a good picture of them.  If you ever see gratin dauphinois on a menu (which you definitely will in France) get it!!  They are so delicious - sort of like a cheesy, creamy scalloped potato.  Yumm.  And the lamb.  Oh god, the lamb.  In.Cred.Ible.  First, they brine the meat, then slow cook it in duck fat, and finish it off in the oven.  It's served with a rich, thick gravy.  Sound decadent?  It was.  And it could be a huge reason I woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible stomachache, but it was worth it.  The sleeper hit was the mogettes - or the little bean salad that came with the lamb.  Not sure what they put with those beans, but I could have eaten those beans by the bucketful. As though we weren't stuffed already, we decided to order dessert and café, because no truly French meal is complete without those two things.  Cue the Tarte Tatin avec le pot de crème fraîche (sort of like an Upside Down Apple Pie with a little pot of cream), the Profiteroles "Maison" (FYI - Profiteroles in France are served with real Ice Cream, not Cream filling) and Crème Caramel (which was a sort of Caramel Bread Pudding).

tarte tatin


nom nom nom

I think it's no surprise that the Profiteroles were my favorite.  I mean, look at them!  All drenched in chocolate sauce and topped with hazelnuts.  Délicieux! Needless to say, we couldn't do much after this meal other than roll ourselves home and talk about it for the next 48 hours.  Honestly, we all had some serious food hangovers from the richness and sheer quantity of food we consumed, but I think we would all agree it was the meal of a lifetime. Paul, à bientôt!

7 Responses to “Chez Paul, Je t’aime”

  1. Stéphanie says:

    Woooooow! Perfect dinner, perfect evening for a perfect getaway!

  2. nate says:

    Wow, great recap. Mouth watering. I’ve had their steak au poivre probably close to a dozen times and it never gets old. I didn’t find many steaks in France that were memorable, but this is definitely one. The lamb looks ridiculous!!

    And don’t get me started on those potatoes.

  3. Jackie says:

    I am really regetting my dinner choices from my visit to Paris 2 months ago. My mouth is watering at these pictures.

  4. Abby says:

    As perfect a description as the meal itself! Take me baaaaackkkk….

  5. Rich B says:

    Second visit to Chez Paul this weekend… so much beef! No idea how you ever get on to the puddings. And my god, those potatoes!

    Can’t thank you enough for the recommendation.

    • Natalie says:

      Oh god, Paul. Isn’t it just incredible? Meal of a lifetime stuff. I could really go for it right now!! So glad you enjoyed!!

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