I can’t believe it took me so long to get to this one.
This is one of my favorite genres of Paris restaurant, the caviste-as-bistro. At lunch Les Papilles serves an assortment of salads and charcuterie (from chez Camdeborde, no less) but at night they offer a unique four course menu for 31€. When I say unique I mean that there is only one, that you have no choice in the matter. You may find this limiting but I think it’s liberating, at least once in a while, to not have to spend time deciding what to order. Anyway there are plenty of wines to contemplate if you prefer hard choices, at retail plus a 7€ “droite de bouchon”, or corkage fee.
The first course was a velouté of lentils. At first glance the white in the center of the bowl looked like a small poached egg but it was actually crème fraîche, a win-win scenario if ever there was one. Smoked fish (I’m sorry I can’t say what kind) took on the role normally played by bacon in lentil soup. It was served in a large tureen for two and at home I would consider that a meal in itself.
But we weren’t at home, and so two generous portions of magret de canard soon followed, served family style and surrounded by one of the most colorful assortments of vegetables I’ve ever seen in Paris. I wish I could say all of those carrots, snow peas, and dried tomatoes tasted as good as they looked, but after the first bite my friend and I both reached for the salt. It wasn’t bad, just a bit bland.
The Montpeyroux that we were recommended turned out to be way too much for the duck, but its black current jamminess was just the ticket with a morceau of Fourme d’Ambert, one of my favorite blues.
A loose panna cotta with pineapple underneath and caramel on top finished the meal.
Unlike many bars à vins, Les Papilles has an actual bar, a beautiful length of zinc with a few stools. It’s an épicerie as well, worth a visit just for that. Want to do more than just visit? Be sure to reserve.
Les Papilles 30 rue Gay-Lussac, 75005 Paris, +33 (0)1 43 25 20 79 website