PA RT 1 : DAY 1, LUNCH
Where to take my daughter for her historic first meal in Paris was a surprisingly easy call. On my first trip there, with my parents, I was whisked all but straight from de Gaulle to the venerable Brasserie Lipp, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. And there for me began two enduring love affairs (one with Paris, another with choucroute garni). So, 30 years on there was nothing for it but to try for a repeat, and head straight for the same old brasserie. And I mean the same. In a changing world, Lipp is a constant. As we settled onto our banquette, a waiter brushed past bearing plates of cervelas rémoulade—on the menu here since 1880, and still looking just like Hemingway described it in A Moveable Feast (“...a heavy, wide frankfurter split in two, and covered with a special mustard sauce.”) Despite the 25°C heat, my 87-year-old mother summoned her inner Alsatian and managed a choucroute garni (sliced ham, ham hock, bacon, sausages, etc.) all by herself. I opted for choucroute de la mer—my sauerkraut loaded with salmon, haddock and smoked haddock (an inauthentic representation of the fish of landlocked Alsace, but delicious all the same). My wife settled on the one light, weather-appropriate dish on the menu (sole meunière). And for her first French meal my daughter opted for the familiar (duck confit). Then it was time for île flottante, profiteroles, espresso, cognac, a short walkabout through some centuries-old local churches, and a long afternoon nap.
Brasserie Lipp, 151 boulevard SaintGermain, 75006 Paris, brasserielipp.fr A sentimental day demanded a familiar location for dinner, too, and so for that I chose another of my parents’ local favourites. Some context: my father, Mordecai, knew French cooking was the best. But he had little appreciation for haute cuisine and no patience whatsoever for its rituals and pretentions; his passionate enthusiasm focussed exclusively on la cuisine bourgeoise (think coq au vin, cassoulet, entrecôte bordelaise, etc). Restaurant Allard has forged its reputation on just that since 1932. And while some indifferent years followed the Allard family’s departure in 1995, I was very keen to see how things were running in the new era—since Alain Ducasse bought the place four years ago. First, I can happily report that the master chef has had the good sense to not change a whit of Allard’s charming Old World décor, nor the concept. In other good news, the master chef’s healthy respect for tradition extends to appointing a female chef (Fanny Herpin) to run his kitchen, maintaining an all-too-rare convention that at Allard dates to inception (when the kitchen was helmed by Marthe Allard, and then by her legendary daughter-in-law, Françoise). More important still, chef Herpin is here by merit alone; she and her team cook beautifully. We nibbled first on perfect pâté de campagne on thin toast along with the refreshing counterpoint of a simple cucumber salad. Then, working through a sublime Meursault (2013, Sous la Velle, Anne Boisson), we tackled luscious escargots in their shells, the best tomatoes of the season, and a salad of crisp lettuce and homard bleu with buttery croutons. To follow, a magnificently large, plump, firm and pristine Dover sole for two, façon meunière (all it needed), poached turbot with beurre blanc, and succulent roast lamb. To finish, be advised that Ducasse has slipped his signature rum baba onto the bistro menu. Order it—or live in regret ever after.
Restaurant Allard, 41 rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006 Paris, restaurant-allard.fr The plan was to take everyone to the Rodin Museum, and with a view to maximizing our time there I selflessly volunteered to ease back on the heavy dining schedule and instead have a quick bite at a bistro nearby. But guess what happens when you google “restaurants near Rodin Museum”? The closest place is l’Arpège, which has held three Michelin stars since 1996 and whose vegetable-toting chef, Alain Passard, won the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. What could we do? Well, now we know what a tomato salad looks like when it costs $125 (stunning, go figure). We were moved, too, by the colourful array of sensationally delicate vegetable raviolis adrift in lavender-accented consommé. The beet tartare (the one that started it all) was good, and the vegetarian “sushi” extremely pretty if a bit silly (what did all that rice add to the culinary equation, exactly?). Fortunately, I had been reliably advised to not stay the course with touristdriven vegetarianism here, and instead sample Passard’s less trendy work with meat and fish. So, next I was next tucking into
BEET TARTARE AT L’ARPÈGE
LOBSTER WITH FOAMED VIN JAUNE REDUCTION AT L’ARPÈGE
THREE GENERATIONS OF RICHLERS OUTSIDE BRASSERIE LIPP