Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lunch at Le Comptoir, Paris

My first meal in Paris during a recent trip was a casual lunch at Le Comptoir. Foodie friends recommended this tiny (20 seats tops) "gastro-bistro" thanks to the reputation of its chef Yves Camdeborde who built a mini empire of sorts in the L'Odeon area near St. Germain de Pres. Besides Le Comptoir, he owns the hotel that the restaurant is situated in as well as a small creperie and food store next door.

I read that dinners at Le Comptoir are reasonably priced and rivals any of the Michelin star establishments but reservations are impossible to get. Everyone dines on the same prix fixe menu each night, with the innovative menu changing daily. Without a reservation, I decided to try my luck for a late lunch and had no trouble getting in. Tiny is an understatement...I was elbow to elbow with my fellow diners and we kept saying "pardon" to each other throughout the meal.

But in this case, size didn't matter, the food more than made up for it. The escargot was excellent...garlic level was just right and the sauce was contained enough within the shells that I basically slurped each escargot down my throat like an oyster. No sopping with bread necessary.

The oxtail croque monsieur didn't look like a croque monsieur (see below). But with each bite you can taste every element of a traditional croque monsieur and the oxtail was so tender you imagine it was probably braising in the pot all morning. And the size of the dish was perfect for lunch....I didn't feel like I needed a nap afterwards.

Judging from the blogger buzz this place gets, the lunch menu and my own meal here, dinner is probably out of this world. If you're looking for a different type of French bistro experience, more modern takes on classics, this looks like it's a good spot to check out. Let me know if you get a reservation...

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