Today was such a funny day, we started really well with what we thought were clear intentions, but the universe, as usual, led us to where we were meant to be . Dressed immaculately for our luncheon booking at Le Salle a Manger. Where we planned to experience the unique style of chef Helene Darroze, 2015 best female chef of the year. We left early looking forward to a nice long walk through Paris before lunch.
One of the things with long walks in Paris, is occasionally one will need to find a bathroom stop. There doesn’t seem to be much availability of clean public facilities so I have become pretty adept at finding other options. I could probably write a guide on where to find a free place to pee in Paris. A posh hotel is a favourite; waltz in like you own the place, nod to the chap at the door as though you only saw him an hour ago when you left, head straight through looking for a bar, they always have a loo near a bar!
Occasionally though the only option is to buy a coffee somewhere to use the restaurant’s bathroom. Today I was caught short outside La Avenue which as I have since discovered is a celebrity hot spot. I suggest a coffee stop and leave my love to order while I headed up the sweeping staircase to the extravagant purple velvet dressed first floor. I enjoyed a most lavish piece of porcelain while my love enjoyed his café crème. I have discovered that depending where you are in Paris the cost to pee can vary greatly and it pays to check the menu before choosing your bathroom stop. Today turned out to be a twenty euro pee!
While waiting for me, my love had a funny feeling that he should check our reservation. Lucky he did, there had been some time zone confusion of sorts in the calendar and our reservation was tomorrow not today – whoops double booked tomorrow and footloose and fancy free today! We decide to continue to wander and see what looks good along the way.
Heading back in the general direction of our apartment we allow ourselves to get lost in the magic of the Parisian streets. Along the wide Avenue George the 5th lined with extravagant designer boutiques, up little side lanes with pretty buildings, through a small, green, tree filled park we take a beautiful but circuitous route and find ourselves almost back home. Then we spot it – Jeremie! We have walked past Jeremie almost every day on our way to somewhere else. It did always look good though. It is only afterward that we discover that Jeremie has been recognised and won Gault and Millau awards.
Gault and Millau were two French food enthusiasts who in 1961, began a magazine series based on their ‘flâneries’, weekly strolls, around Paris that would lead them to an unknown restaurant or a marvellous drink in a small bar. How funny that we should discover Jeremie on our own flanerie!
Decorated with a simple, sophisticated monochrome palette, lit with sparkling chandeliers the space has an elegant and welcoming feel. We are shown to a lovely table neatly draped in crisp white linen.
After our much longer than expected walk, we start with a couple of large glasses of water followed swiftly by a cool glistening glass of champagne.
Chef Jeremie Tourdjman offers a “bistronomic” menu. The mixture of gastronomy and bistro has been a growing theme since the 1990’s when French chefs started idea of taking simple bistro food to a more gastronomic level, while still keeping it attainable and affordable.
The three course lunch menu looked wonderful and our waiter explained the dishes with such warm genuine enthusiasm we felt very confident in taking his suggestions.
As it is truffle season, I decide to go with the very simple sounding recommendation of scrambled egg with truffle for entrée and my love opts for poached eggs with Lentils.
My eggs arrive scrambled French style; loose, creamy and velvet smooth. Shavings of black truffle are very generously cast across the wide bowl of eggs. The deep earthy flavour of the truffle is an incredible combination with the simplicity of the eggs. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to try such a thing. My love’s poached eggs look fabulous he breaks one open, and swirls rich golden yellow through the deep green puy lentils. I taste a spoonful, it’s a really good dish, with a cosy comfort food feeling. Something I will definitely replicate at home.
Our waiter has also provided us with bread and a huge serve of butter. The butter is scooped from a tall tower of butter on the bar at the back of the restaurant. There is a lot of house made things on the menu including the bread and butter, so very good.
Our waiter recommends grilled Bavarian beef fillet with seasonal vegetables and mac & old parmesan cheese for main course. He seems excited about the mac and cheese like idea of it is a real novelty. I love that the staff here are so excited and interested in what they are doing. We decide to reward his enthusiasm by going with the beef, mac and cheese.
The meat is beautifully cooked, pink and tender, sitting in a generous puddle of Jus. The Mac and Cheese is a small neat slice of baked macaroni with a very full flavoured cheese. It’s not at all like the big gooey wet bowls of mac and plastic cheese that you might be more familiar with.
For dessert we simply must have the bourbon vanilla millefeuille, butterscotch sauce. We have not had millefeuille in Paris yet and I have never had proper millefeuille. Oh my goodness! When the dessert arrives I am speechless. This dessert is nothing at all like the thing they call vanilla slice at home. You know the one mum used to make with frozen puff pastry (or for special occasions lattice biscuits) filled with wet, thickened with cornflour, custard and topped with a can of passionfruit pulp with icing sugar mixed in. No this is definitely not that.
Layers of delicate pastry have been cooked till they are crisp and so dark they almost look chocolate. Layered on the plate with light fluffy richly vanilla and bourbon flavoured custard cream piped in high swirls between each. Glossy butterscotch drizzled over the top and pooled at the bottom. To taste a real millefeuille is such a treat. The pastry was so buttery and crisp, the custard cream so light. Very, very special.
We rest a little after dessert, finishing our stunning Saint Emillion. We are offered cheese to continue and our waiter is particularly excited about the homemade Brie de Meaux truffe. We must try it! So we ask for a small tranche. The cheese is amazing. We had bought a Brie au truffe at a wonderful fromagerie earlier in our trip but this one is just incredible. We start talking to the waiter about cheeses and before we know it he has arranged assiette de fromages offert (on the house). The cheese plate is spectacular, half a dozen different cheeses all very different and unique.
We are so comfortable here and tired after our long walk. We are only a block or two from home so we look at the wonderful cheese our empty glasses and decide what the hell, let’s settle in for the afternoon. So with more wine to wash down the cheese we enjoy a long afternoon at Jeremie chatting with our very generous and welcoming wait staff.
Just when we thought our adventure was coming to an end, our waiter arrives with offerings of a digestive. Eau de Vie prune de Souillac. This plum brandy is distilled in the Souillac region by the Roque family who have been in the distillery business since 1835. It is incredible, a stunning colour and clarity, warm and fruity, distinctly plum.
What a wonderful afternoon, what a wonderful discovery. It was a little reminder that all you have to do to find a magical experience in Paris is walk and look around you, there is another magical opportunity waiting around every corner.
33, rue Longchamp, 75016 Paris.
Metro : Iéna, Boissière.
Tel : 01 47 04 96 81.
Open Monday to Saturday from 12-2:30 p.m. and 7-10:30 p.m. Closed on Sunday.