Dinner and Desserts in Paris

by alexandra

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 A few days back I shared some of my favorite breakfast spots in Paris, with the promise that I had another post on the way for restaurants. The thing about Paris is that there are literally restaurants everywhere. I thought I would see patisseries everywhere, but restaurants seemed to be much more prevalent. This leaves you with a ton of choices every time you’re ready to eat, but it can also leave you wondering just what to choose. One way to deal with the overwhelming amount of choices is to have a few spots in mind that you feel you can rely on for a good meal. The restaurants I’ve chosen to mention are the ones that stick out in my mind as worthy of a visit. And because you can’t have dinner without dessert, I’m including some of my favorite desserts from Paris as well.

Paris Eats Part II – Dinner and Desserts

Restaurants

Charbon Rouge – There are a ton of casual cafés and brasseries in Paris, but sometimes you want to go to a place that’s a little more refined, where you can feel like your dining, rather than just eating. After a couple of days in Paris,  that’s exactly what I was craving: a special meal at a nice, elegant restaurant. Charbon Rouge gives you that. The decor is classy and the food is sublime. Their specialty is steak, but I ordered the salmon (my favorite), which was fresh and tender and cooked exactly as ordered. They also make a great tuna steak, something you can’t find at just any restaurant.  The entreés were served on a bed of excellently-prepared vegetables, and the side dishes were just as enticing. One of my favorite things was the Dominican-style rice that came with my meal, which was served in a miniature baking dish that was surely just pulled from the oven. I’m a rice lover, so I’ve had a lot of different rice in my lifetime, but this dish was completely unique and so tasty! The absolute highlight of the meal, however, was dessert. I ordered Crêmeux au chocolat Taïnori, which was some sort of mixture of chocolate mousse and ganache, if I’m remembering correctly, with a cookie-like base. Words cannot describe how delicious it was, which is why I ate it way too fast to seriously consider what the individual components were.

Au P’tit Boulevard – This restaurant is like most of the ones you’ll see scattered along every street in France. It’s a fairly casual place and frankly, I wasn’t expecting much from it. I mention it, though, because of their salmon dish served with basmati rice and sorrel sauce. The salmon was good on it’s own, but that sauce is frickin’ amazing!! I was adding it to ever last bite of my dish and couldn’t get enough. This is one for salmon lovers; I would go here for this dish specifically.

Café Soprano – Café Soprano is situated on a quiet road, so we were surprised to pass by it and see so many people dining out on the colorful terrace. We decided to try it the next evening, and I’m glad we did. We started out with the bruschetta  as an appetizer, and it was excellent, complete with tasty bread, fresh basil and tomato, and thick slabs of mozzarella. If the bruschetta could be topped, though, it was topped by my entrée, one of my favorite meals that I had in Paris. It was a combination of  risotto, beef, and vegetables, fried in a ball and served with a house tomato sauce and a side of greens. It was a small dish (leaving room for dessert!) but insanely delicious. The appetizer and entrée were probably the highlight of the meal for me, but dessert was good as well. I ordered the chocolate gelato, which was made with Valhrona chocolate, and you could certainly tell by its true, rich chocolate flavor. We also ordered a dessert sampler, which came with a pot of tea, a slice of tiramisu, a shooter of panna cotta, and a small little almond cookie. The tiramisu was light and creamy with notes of espresso, and some not-so-big tiramisu fans gobbled it up. The panna cotta, which was a first for me, was surprisingly tasty, and it had just the right amount of fruitiness from the sauce on top. The little almond cookie was also good – very almondy with a texture similar to that of a macaroon. Not only was dinner excellent and dessert yummy, but the staff at Soprano was top-notch. Our waitress was more than helpful and the manager, who was also present, was clearly very concerned with making sure that his guests were enjoying their dinners.

Chez Omar – We ate here on our last night in Paris, and in a funny way, it was sort of like coming home before we got home. Couscous is the specialty here, and they serve it to you on a big platter with your additions of choice on the side. A few of us ordered the legume (vegetable) couscous, so ours was served with a big pot of hot vegetables – turnips, chickpeas, carrots, celery, and more. It was warm, comforting, and reminiscent of a home-cooked meal, not to mention a unique change from typical Parisian fare.

Dessert Shops

Amorino – Amorino is a famous gelato shop with locations all over Paris. This is good news, because it means that no matter where in this city you might find yourself, you can probably get to an Amorino without looking for it. I was going waffle-cones all the way in Paris, so one of the first things I noticed here is how small their cones are. I actually asked the woman at the shop what size cone I needed to get in order to be able to have more than one flavor of gelato, but it turns out that’s never an issue, even with the tiniest cone. The next thing I noticed is how peculiarly the woman scooped up the gelato, but I understood as soon as I saw how it had been formed into a precious rose atop my cone. And, of course, the gelato itself is worth a visit to Amorino, even if the rose somehow doesn’t do it for you. I thought the L’Inimitabile, which is a chocolate-hazelnut gelato, and the Cioccolato Ecuador Pure Origine, a dark chocolate gelato, were both scrumptious.

Pozzetto – Pozzetto is a tiny little gelato shop in Paris, but the gelato here is worthy as well. I reccommend going for a cup of the Chocolat Noisette, which is another chocolate hazelnut gelato. I remember it being really smooth and creamy, and if you love that flavor combination, you’ll love this gelato.

Tutti Sensi – I’m putting one more gelato place on my list, just to make sure that wherever you might go in Paris, you’ll have some good gelato reccomendations. :) If you walk into Tutti Sensi, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t leave empty-handed, because the swirls of creamy gelato here are so enticing. Luckily, the tastes live up to the looks. Their yogurt gelato, which is like tart frozen yogurt, is really good.  The other thing is, they have Toblerone flavored gelato. As in Toblerone chocolate. As in you cannot miss this.

Ladurée – I know that Ladurée is famous for their macarons, and they are indeed delicious and easy to inhale (the four of us consumed a box of 12 before any pictures could be taken). Some of my favorites were predictable – the Chocolate Pure Origin Ghana, Caramel with Salted Butter, Coffee, and Vanilla – but I also really enjoyed some unexpected flavors – Pistachio, and Almond with Marshmallow filling. However, if I could only tell you to try one thing from Ladurée, it wouldn’t be the macarons, but the Carré Chocolat. It is pure chocolate bliss with – are you ready for this? – a black chocolate macaron biscuit, thin crispy dark chocolate leaves, dark chocolate cream, dark chocolate biscuit, and chocolate zagablioni mousse. If you concentrate, you can really taste all of the individual layers, but likely any patience you might have will be out the window after your first bite.

Jacques Genin – This place is like the Rolls Royce of chocolate shops. The chocolates here are treated like precious gems (and priced like them too!). For the average person, it’s definitely a splurge kind of place, but you have to try it at least once. I tried a few of their very creamy dark chocolates – the honey, tonka bean, praline, mint, and coffee flavors – and the flavor laced into each one is honest, unique, and exquisite. I also tried Jacques Genin’s famous caramels in chocolate and mango. Both were sinfully good, soft and true to their flavors. Mango caramels, you ask? You just have to try one to understand.

À la Mère de Famille – One of my favorite moments in Paris was when I went to ÀLa Mère de Famille. We were walking down Rue Cler, which is like an outdoor market filled with food shops, and I saw this shop, which I had been dying to visit. I walked inside and when the women at the counter started speaking to me in French, I quickly lost all of the French words and phrases I knew and could only come up with “Un peu Francais”  –  “A little French” – which is clearly all I know. She was incredibly sweet about it though and did her best to communicate, letting me know that there were samples in the corner of the shop and allowing me to have a look around. I actually came for the homemade ice-cream, but the chocolate samples seriously had me swooning. I tried dark chocolate, dark chocolate with berries, and dark chocolate with caramel, and they were all dark and divine. We came back later that evening for dessert, and when we were trying to decide whether to buy a certain chocolate, the woman was kind enough to give us a sample of it. We got a bag of their dark chocolate orange sticks and a couple of boozy cherry chocolates with a ganache-like interior. I also had a cookie that was like two lace cookies with a thick layer of chocolate in the middle, topped with slivered almonds. It was too good for words, and apparently too good for pictures too, because it sure didn’t last long enough to be photographed!

If you haven’t made it to Paris yet, I hope you do get to visit someday, and to all who those are fortunate enough to go, I hope you get a chance to stop by some of these places and enjoy them!

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Laura (Tutti Dolci) August 23, 2012

I’m drooling over these sweet delights!
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Erika December 18, 2012

That. Chocolate. Thing. Looks and sounds AMAZING! I once went to Paris for three weeks on an independent study and sadly I managed to visit only one of the places you mentioned…La Duree, of course :) But when I go back (and I will!), I am taking your list with me :)
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alexandra December 19, 2012

The Ladurée chocolate thing? It IS amazing! I will seriously remember it forever. Pure bliss.
S

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