Thursday, January 16, 2014

Paris Day 7 - 2014 A Quiet Day in Paris, dinner at an "American" restaurant

January 1, 2014 - Happy New Year!

The first day of 2014 was rainy in Paris. Instead of walking like we normally would, we took the metro to L'Arc de Triomphe and walked down the Champs Elysees when there was a break in the weather. Champs Elysees is lined with shops and was fairly busy for a holiday but quiet compared to a "normal" day. Only half the stores were open so I imagine it would've been more crowded on a non-holiday.
Laduree (next post) was open on the Champs Elysees and other than a visit to the famous store, we didn't do much shopping. We tried going to Bon Marche but they were closed for New Year's. Lunch was at a casual, point-and-choose Chinese restaurant but I was getting weary of taking pictures of food places and what we were eating (I know, shocking) so I don't have any record of it.

After an afternoon of rest, downloading pics onto my laptop and catching up on my blog, I rallied for dinner though. My nieces and I had originally hoped to try out a crepe place and we had earmarked one from yelp that got great reviews which was within walking distance of our hotel. Unfortunately, when we headed out to find it, it was closed. It was raining again too so we had to find another option. After walking around a bit longer and checking out the sidewalk menus, we ducked into one restaurant too quickly for me to take a picture of where we were so I waited until after dinner to snap the shot above.
4-cheese pizza
I don't have a picture of the inside but, like most places in France, it was on the small side, with a larger room partitioned off to make 2 smaller rooms. We were shown to the room in the back and seated at a table right next to the kitchen which was mostly closed off except for the steel counter where they placed the finished orders and the wait staff came to pick them up. Some people may not like that kind of location but it turned out to be a great place to sit as we could watch the mouthwatering dishes being plated and see what made its way out of the kitchen onto the tables. The menu was mostly Italian with pizzas and pastas and the decor reminded me of Sardi's in New York with wall art depicting movie stars. Not quite the French experience you expect in Paris but we were hungry and lucky to get a table on New Year's without a reservation so we went with it. Besides, remember my mantra that it's probably impossible to eat bad food in Paris. This was no exception. We did "French-ify" our order though with the pizza. When in France, you have to have everything with cheese. So we went with the 4-cheese pizza. This was good (it's cheese, it's France). The only jarring note is one of the cheeses was bleu cheese and it tended to overpower the other cheeses.
Pesto Pasta
The pesto pasta was also tasty. You can taste the freshness and assume the chef probably plucked the basil leaves off the plant minutes before serving this up. I had a birds' eye view into the kitchen and it was really amazing to see how quickly they plated the food yet there was no one rushing around frantically and no histrionic sounds of tempers flaring. Instead, the 2-4 people I glimpsed all moved efficiently but weren't rushing or panicked. No reality TV restaurant shows in the making here.
Banana and Nutella "pizza"
Dessert was the "banana nutelle pizza" but it came out more like a calzone, hot with fresh caramelized bananas and nutella packed on the inside. We made short work of it and were happy. It also seems pretty easy to make and in between bites, I was advising my nieces on replicating the dessert: buy the fresh pizza dough from Trader Joe's, roll it out in a thin circle, spread nutella over it and lay sliced bananas over half of the dough, fold over and seal the edges to make the calzone and bake until brown. Easy. And don't think I'm not going to make it myself someday.
We were armed with knives and forks - the banana nutella "pizza" didn't have a chance
The joke was on us when we left the restaurant and I was able to take a picture of the outside to see where we actually ate at: an "American" restaurant that serves Italian food. I couldn't find them on yelp or google so I don't think they have much of an internet presence but it was a good find on a cold, rainy night. If we had planned better or if more places were open, we might have had a more typical French meal but for an American restaurant serving Italian food, it served our needs just fine.

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