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Let Paris Permeate Your Senses

This is one I couldn’t wait to share with you.

In spite of the fact that last year I dined out formally 219 times at an average of $25 per meal (including tax and tip!), it isn’t often I come across a restaurant seriously worth adding to the “Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants.”

That’s not because there’s a shortage of great restaurants and meals to be had in the City of Light (more than 5000 bona fide restaurants). It’s because when you dine out as often as I do, more often than not, a restaurant simply won’t pass the test of tough criteria. Restaurants that pass the muster must be affordable for everyday dining (under 40 Euros per person — so, that immediately eliminates the two and three star restaurants that attract tourists, special occasion celebrators, those on expense accounts and serious “gourmands”), must be seasoned and consistent (so that you won’t find them gone with the wind next time you make reservations), have an ambiance that makes you feel comfortable to be there (I abhor stuffy service!) and above all, must have great food. Great food, in my book, isn’t necessarily heavy-handed or creative cooking…just simple, but well-prepared with high quality products does the trick.

There’s one last thing that can be a deal-breaker, but not always: are the other diners Parisians (residents of the city, even if made up of many nationalities) or tourists? When a restaurant is mostly filled with tourists, it is unlikely the chef cares much about the quality of his work, since they aren’t likely going to return any time soon. Restaurants off-the-beaten-track, in neighborhoods non-transient, are the best spots in Paris to find the most wonderful bistrots, usually mom-pop establishments in low-rent locations, struggling to show off their culinary talents.

I found one this weekend, thanks to one of my best restaurant sleuths, Eva Lee Lichtenberg, who has a nose for just what I’ve just described. Very few have such a natural talent for unearthing the jewel among the broken glass.

Frédéric Martin and his wife Christelle, seven days a week, share their love of French cuisine with clientele mostly from the neighboring 15th and 7th arrondissements at their restaurant, “Marie Edith.” At 34, rue du Laos just near Métro Cambronne (01.45.66.44.60), on a street you wouldn’t normally wander down looking for a meal worth writing home about, it’s close enough to the Eiffel Tower to make it accessible even for tourists (please don’t tell them, or we risk ruining it!). Decor is simple, warm, elegant, classic and inviting. White table cloths, white dinnerware, simple glassware…all perfect background for focus on the cuisine. The noise level is moderate — you will not feel alone, as if all eyes are on you, yet you won’t be yelling across the table to your fellow diners, nor struggling to hear what they are saying (loud restaurants can be painful experiences!).

For a mere 28 euros, three beautiful courses of traditional yet innovative French cuisi

ne will be placed before you, with perfect timing between courses. The wine list is correct and not overpriced. Presentation is not elaborate, but deliberate. Service by Christelle and her waiters is unobtrusive.

Let me whet your appetite by starting you off with…”Salade de roquette aux escargot à la Provençal” or “Broccoli vinaigrette” or “Salade de queues d’ecrevisses au Pistou” or “Duo de foie gras maison aux figues et pain d’épices.” Imagine warm, slightly sweet escargot, bright green broccoli perfectly tender and flavorful, plump firm crawfish tails in a tart dressing and buttery fragrant foie gras. Then move on to your second course…”Bar grillé entier à l’huile vierge” or “Saumon d’Ecosse à l’anis étoile” or “Magret de canard aux airelles” or “Andouillette A.A.A.A.A. rôti à l’aligoté.” The fish flakes from the bone. The accompanying braised endive and broccoli purée melts in your mouth. But of course, it doesn’t stop there — you can’t leave without dessert…”Soupe de fraises à la menthe et citron vert” or “Selection du jour glace et sorbet” or “Feuillantine de poires coulis de chocolat chaud.”

At Marie Edith you can let Paris permeate your senses. Top it all off with an espresso then take a stroll over to the nearby Champ de Mars for a view of La Grande Dame herself and know you have arrived to a heightened sense of pleasure. It’s Paris at her best.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. Starting next month, Parler Paris will contribute to a new monthly newsletter: “parismarais”– Le Marais has so much to enjoy that it really deserves its own specific newsletter. You can subscribe in advance online by visiting http://www.parismarais.com

P.P.S. Read the report on last week’s Parler Paris Après Midi by visiting /parlerparis/apresmidi.html and comments from conference participants with us last weekend in New Orleans at /frenchproperty/conference/conferencements.html with photos at /frenchproperty/conference/photos.html

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