Paris had been "on the list" for quite a while. The Missus had been wanting to see Paris and one of Her bucket list items was seeing the Eiffel Tower at night. I'd been kind of putting things off. You see, during my younger days, I knew folks who visited Paris and had a terrible time.....somewhat clichéd, but the stories were similar. This dampened my motivation to visit Paris and kind of stuck with me. However, in recent years, folks whom I knew enjoyed their visits....I think things have changed. Plus, this just seemed like a bucket list year for the Missus....perhaps She's thinking I'll be "kicking it" soon?
We flew from Seattle, with a mere one hour layover at Keflavik Airport. It turned out to be more than enough time to exit our plane (in the freezing rain on the tarmac), get through immigration (Iceland is part of the Schengen Area) amazingly efficient and quick, and then to our gate (sort of a cattle call type situation) in less than 30 minutes. Our flight from Keflavik was to Orly Airport, not Charles de Gaulle. We exited our plane and found the Le Bus Direct stop; paid our Euros and headed off. We were to exit at Rue Jean Rey, near the Tour Eiffel...the Missus was thrilled. When got off the bus at the stop and it looked like an ordinary city stop. The Missus was a bit disappointed, "there's really nothing here...." Until we turned the corner and there it was......
I gotta say; I was ready to be disappointed, but even on an overcast day; the Eiffel Tower is pretty darn impressive.
Having just smaller carry-on, Tom Bihn bags, made the walk to our hotel; the Hotel la Bourdonnais a snap. Located near the Ecole Militaire, this turned out to be a great location for the Missus, who just wanted to stare at that tower.
Our room was small; but comfortable, we could enjoy the street scene below and at night you could even see the Eiffel Tower peeking through the trees. We rested a bit.....took a short nap which we badly needed, then walked around. I, scoping out potential stops like Fromager Marie-Anne Cantin (amazing cheese) and Les Gourmandises d'Eiffel (baguettes). Unfortunately, we had an amazing time and sadly never partook of their products. Next time.....
After spending so much time in airports and on planes we really weren't in the mood for anything heavy, so with my trusty list and my Google Map (God bless pocket wifi...or weefee as they say here) we ended up on charming Rue Saint Dominique. The Missus loved all the little shops in this area. Near Le Fountaine de Mars......
Is Les Cocottes de Christian Constant. I'd read about the place taking no reservations and photos of the dishes looked like just what we'd want after a long flight. The place was quite empty when we arrived.
It was just before 6pm......the sun had already set; but the place was devoid of customers. I asked the nice young man who seated us if we were eating early by French standards. He smiled and said, in what we'd find is a typical French understated manner, "oh, just a bit". The young woman who waited upon us was a total joy....cheerful, ever so pleasant.......English so perfect it made us nervous that we were in the wrong place. She had a great sense of humor and I even tried out my very, very poor French. Though even I knew when to stop; unlike the Korean family who came in a few minutes later. The middle aged gentleman insisted on trying to speak French, even though no one could ever understand him. I gotta give him credit though....
We started with the very rustic and very delicious Country Style Pate.
We both loved this; a nice balance of earthy flavors with nice texture.....there's quite a bit of filler, but it's not wasted. I love dishes like this; it shows that one could really make an great version of a humble pate, one that doesn't use expensive ingredients, but rather sticks to its peasant roots.
The Missus enjoyed the Foie Gras.
After the pate; this was rather nondescript....something like I've had many times. Weird, I know, but it really didn't stand out. Still, it is foie gras, but it really didn't have enough of that earthy, slightly offal flavor that I enjoy. Strange because I'm not a big fan of liver; but I do like a touch of it, minus the metallic flavors in my foie gras. The Missus enjoyed this.
A cocotte is a traditional small cast iron pot. And our favorite item of the night, while nothing braised or stewed came in one. We really enjoyed the Poached Egg with Bacon and Rocket Salad.
There was of course, the very nice poached egg, of which the Missus approved. We also really loved the lardons; the bacon had a slight crunch then a nice silky finish, it was coated in a sweet and slightly salted dressing. The crisp, crunchy, peppery arugula was perfect with the runny egg and bacon. We both loved that the salad was simply dressed, letting the flavors of all the parts speak for themselves.
We also quickly noticed that nothing was particularly salty and the flavors were nicely balanced, something we'd find at almost all the places we ate at.
Of course we had to order the Potatoes Stuffed with Pig's Feet.
Strangely, we thought this dish was all about the potatoes, which was nicely caramelized and had also absorbed the better part of the pork flavor. Actually, we both didn't enjoy the texture of the pork too much; finding it mushy with a greasy feel. And yes; these are basically fancy potato skins, right? As with the other dishes; we loved the greens.
So here's where it gets kind of odd....we noticed that about 80 percent of the customers in the place were Korean. So I basically asked our Server, "why all the Korean customers?" She just cracked up and in a slight whisper told me; "it's the next wave......three years ago; it was so many Japanese....now...it's the Koreans!" I figured the place must be on some Korean food show or something. So while doing my search; I came to find out that Anthony Bourdain ate here on one of his shows....now how the heck did I miss that?
Regardless; we loved the service, the food was just what we needed after a long trip over, and the prices were not too bad. I know, not the traditional bistro meal....we'd kind of avoid that in Paris and save it for Burgundy. Not haute cuisine, but just what we wanted.
Les Cocottes de Christian Constant
135 rue Saint-Dominique
After dinner we strolled around Rue Cler, then Champ de Mars.....the Missus was soaking it all in; we were indeed in Paris.
That's the Monument des Droits de l'Homme, a human rights monument finished in 1989, but it looks much older. It is said to have been designed to resemble an Egyptian Temple, but with many Masonic features.
And then of course; there was this, which needs no introduction.
Cross another one off the Missus's bucket list.......
Which quickly answered the question with a question of why we came here......"Why not Paris?"
There was a small grocery right next to our hotel. While walking through the place, I noticed a rather odd looking beer and decided to buy a can.
Man, this was pretty bad....."Rum Flavoured Beer", what was I thinking? Man, this was really sweet and artificial tasting! Luckily, this was probably the one bad move I made during our time in Paris.
We both crashed early. Tomorrow was going to be a shopping day for the Missus and I needed to rest up my credit card for the beating it would take!
Thanks for reading!