Wednesday 11 January 2017

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Les Papilles, Paris

Last weekend I popped over to Paris for 24 hours with my Mum. I used the trip as an excuse to visit some of the restaurants that are forever frequenting the 'where to eat in Paris' note saved on my phone. I booked a table at Les Papilles for lunch, a classic French wine bar in the 5th that does a four course set menu for around €35 per person.

I expected this wine bar to have a classic bistro vibe so I was a little surprised when we turned up to a bright yellow fronted restaurant. Moving inside things felt a little more familiar. Classic, yet well looked after, the restaurant has a wonderful homely vibe with it's dark wood furnishings and closely packed tables. The kitchen at the back is tiny and I do wonder how it manages to work. Downstairs is a private dining room with a large table that has the ability to seat around 12 people. It looks like the perfect place to host a small party.

As you come into the restaurant the entire left hand side wall is lined with bottles of wine of all varieties and prices. Once the food menu has been explained you can go and choose a bottle to drink. Feeling a bit overwhelmed with asked our waiter to recommend us a bottle of white. The result was Domaine de la Bongran 2011, a lovely deep chardonnay with citrus and tropical fruit flavours. Whilst it didn't taste anything like my Mum's preferred crisp and light New Zealand sauvignon blanc, I thought it was rather moreish and different from anything I've tasted previously.

Before visiting the restaurant I was a little worried about the food. I'm not at all a fussy eater but when faced with the prospect of a set menu with no room to manoeuvre I can't help but worry that I'll be served everything I hate i.e. mushrooms and snails. I had nothing to worry about, the menu was perfect and I couldn't have been more thrilled with the ingredients in each course.

We started with a carrot salad and carrot soup. I love that you serve the soup yourself from the terrine that's left on the table. The soup was creamy and absolutely moreish. It was smooth, just the right thickness and not too sweet which is often the case with carrots. The salad of carrot, bacon and croƻtons worked really well, making this dish one of my favourite things we ate that day. We were also given a basket of warm sourdough. I tried not to eat all of it as I knew we had three more course to come, but trust me when I say this was difficult as it tasted delicious.

The main course was surprisingly huge. Red wine braised beef paleron with baby potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The serve yourself nature of this dish added to the rustic, family vibe of the restaurant which I really enjoyed. The meat was perfect, it was so tender and flavoursome that I really regretted not being able to eat it all. The vegetables were simple yet wonderful, the perfect accompaniment.

As I'm not a fan of blue cheese so I was glad we were able to swap one of our third course orders for a salad. It was a pretty simple affair but nevertheless a tasty one thanks to the balsamic dressing. I did try the blue cheese but I hated it. Despite it being mild and creamy I just can't get on board with the mould, give me a brie any day.

Mango panacotta for dessert was perfect. Creamy and sweet thanks to the fruit, I couldn't think of a better way to finish our meal.

I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch at Les Papilles and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good value, classic French meal whether it's lunch or dinner. The menu was a little on the heavy side for lunch but if you're looking for a leisurely afternoon meal then this is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours. The staff speak English and will happily assist you when choosing what to drink. It's a popular spot so I'd recommend booking in advance. Every few minutes people were coming in looking for a table but the restaurant was fully booked. This is somewhere I'd return again as the changing menu means there's always something new to try. Simple and seasonal food that's full of flavour, c'est magnifique.

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