Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Simply perfect

How good can a dinner be?

Even here in Paris, I forget. Le Gaigne, Koba, Le Temps au Temps… macarons, croissants, chocolate-caramel tarts… this past week has been an absolute orgy of incredible food. But tonight took the cake.

Ben’s friend had suggested he check out either Café Constant or Les Cocottes while he’s stranded here. Both restaurants were on my List and, seeing as they’re next door to each other and neither accepts reservations, we decided to meet on the street, explore the menus, see what our options were, and make a decision for dinner. We opted for the more traditional Café Constant and got the very last table available and what incredible luck it was.

But let me back up. I worked in our Champs-Elysées office today, a tres rare event these days, next to my girl Jo. What could be better than that? Already, I was feeling happier and warmer. Our LV office is nice; they tried. But working with the Ogilvy crew, in an agency environment, in exquisite offices on the Champs-Elysées. Well, that’s nicer. So I felt tired but content leaving work to hop on a bus that would take me across Le Pont Alma to the seventh arrondisement to meet Ben.

The never underwhelming view of the Eiffel Tower made me smile among the commuters. And then Ben and I got to this most amazing dinner.

In fact, I think this is one of my best meals to date. The menu was surprisingly large and well priced: 8-10 entrées (11 Euros) and plats (16 Euros) each, plus plats du jour. We were going to split three entrées just because so many looked good and we couldn’t decide. Thank goodness we skipped the deviled eggs and just ordered two entrées: a towering crab salad atop potatoes and asparagus with poached egg, parmesan and jambon.

Just look at these creations and imagine that the bread and wine were equally exquisite, and imagine our utter contentment.

I think I was too entranced and enchanted with the meal and, by this time, the Cote du Rhone’s effects that I forgot to take photos of our plats. They were as equally beautiful as the entrées and rivaled the first course in terms of deliciousness. Ben got quail, stuffed with foie gras, atop a sea of creamy Puy lentils. I got perhaps the best chicken of my life. Served with maybe the best potatoes of my life. Seriously. Delicious.

We certainly didn’t need dessert. But not one other table skipped out and we figured it was our American duty to at least split something. Chalking it up to old age, Ben admitted to a new affinity for rice pudding so we ordered the vanilla rice pudding. And promptly put it away (yar).

Next to us at dinner (it’s a petit restaurant; like it or not, you get cozy with your neighbors), were the two sweetest, most beautiful old French ladies you ever could imagine. They were probably in their 80s, but wonderfully made up, drinking a carafe of red wine, indulging in three courses, and smiling and laughing and talking throughout it all. Such inspiration. By the end of the meal, we were chatting with them, and it just made the experience that much more perfect. (They assured Bennie that he would get out a-ok on Friday.)


And to top it off, we strolled. Bennie wanted to cruise by the Eiffel Tower before so we did that. I had somehow forgotten how magnificent it is.

Then we walked past the Musée du quai Branly, which I must visit, to Les Invalides before taking a cab ride through the most beautiful city in the world.


  1. Yes, you must do Branly! It's so bizarre when you're inside, does not feel like you're in Paris RIGHT beside La Tour!

  2. This restaurant is round the corner from me, I love it too. It becomes difficult to get a table during the summer, so best to go early or late.