In Paris you'll find most of France's regional dishes - Breton crêpes, Provençal ratatouille, bouillabaisse - all are reproduced in Paris restaurants. But most with a bow to the demands of nouvelle cuisine with lighter sauces and smaller portions. Fortunately there are exceptions.In the Left Bank, directly across the Boulevard St Germain from the Café de Flore sits the Lipp, arguably the most famous brasserie in Paris.
On any given day at lunchtime, the Brasserie Lipp hosts politicians, actors and other French notables.The Lipp is gloriously fin de siècle, with Belle Époque chandeliers, elaborate wall mosaics and authentic hand-lettered signs, like the one asking patrons to kindly smoke cigarettes instead of pipes. (Another requests that patrons refrain from using mobile phones at the table; it lacks the 19th century patina of the others.).Seating at the Lipp follows a rigid hierarchy, regulars and VIPs in the first room, mere French mortals in the second, slightly smaller room in the back and tourists upstairs. Who you are matters, as does how you are dressed.
If you want to dine at the Brasserie Lipp, you'll enjoy it most at a prime table, not exiled upstairs with the tourists. To do this, follow this advice from a regular patron: "You must either speak perfect French or go with someone who does.or ask the concierge at a luxury hotel to make a reservation for you, specifying a table downstairs". You'll definitely have more success if you look the part as well. The French dress up for dining out at a place like the Lipp; to blend in, so should you.
It sounds like a lot of effort, but if you get past the door, you'll never forget the experience. Comfortable tables covered in crisp white tablecloths, sparkling glassware, heavy silverware. The menu almost exclusively features "la cuisine de Grandmère", definitely not the current nouvelle cuisine but as it may have been circa 1905.
Count on 25-50 euros ($30-60) per person for lunch, depending on the demands of your palate.The Brasserie Lipp is the antithesis of a tourist trap--it's more like a step back in time. This is Paris as it used to be.the way, for a fortunate few, it still is.In Paris Alsatian choucroute garnie is another exception to the lighter cuisine. Sauerkraut served with sausages is a favorite dish from France's easternmost, German-influenced region-and another winter dish to enjoy before the arrival of spring.
It's also the mainstay of many a Parisian brasserie that counts choucroute garnie as its specialty; preferably have it with some Riesling wine or light beer. A few will substitute the familiar German wurst with seafood, but this is for the non-traditionalists.One Parisian brasserie that counts choucroute garnie as its specialty. La Brasserie Bofinger, just off of Place de la Bastille, has a special winter menu with various dishes involving sauerkraut. Bofinger is owned by the group Brasseries Flo, which owns La Coupole and other Parisian dining landmarks appreciated by natives and tourists alike.
(A secret: If you reserve online for lunch or dinner, 72 hours in advance, you will receive a coupon for a 15% discount on your full meal. No other place in Paris has a deal like this one, valid at all Brasserie Flo restaurants.).Another find in Paris for the traditionalist is Le Pavé, at the southwest corner of rue de la Verrerie and rue St Martin, you can sample traditional French fare on a red-checkered tablecloth. For 15 euros ($20), choose an appetizer, main course and dessert from a list of favorites like onion soup, grilled steak and braised lamb, followed by chocolate mousse or crème brûlée.
Or try your luck with the day's special, listed on the slate in chalk, it's always top-notch..Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Europe Vacation.
By: Michael Russell