Friday, May 20, 2011

White People Food in Paris

There was this debate amongst my friends, "what to call the food North Americans, Europeans eat?"  You know, the mish-mash that is served at Moxie's, Earls, or for those of you in the states, something like TGIF.  There are steaks, pasta, salads, ribs, chicken, or some fish done with a mild sauce of sorts and either grilled or fried or poached.  That sort of food.  We have decided that it is okay to call it "white people food" and not have any racist connotations to it.  Admittedly, I personally differentiate it a bit further and sometimes not call it "white people food" at all - Italian (pizza and pasta), burgers, steaks...  because if you know Mr. Meow at all, saying "white people food" does not help him narrow down choices for tonight's dinner one bit.

So, white people food.  By that I mean French food and others (excluding Italian) on this post.  French cafe food is another whole ball of wax though.

Let's start off with this little place in Montmartre, called Chartier.  It's a very chic canteen restaurant type of place where the waiters are quick to turn tables over and will seat another couple at your table-meant-for-4 if necessary.  If you're concerned about privacy and your own personal bubble, or if you want to will away the evening there, this isn't the place.

The decor is tasteful, I think one travel book/website said the decor is from like 50 years ago.  Menu is just printed on a sheet of paper, kinda like at Old Spaghetti Factory, with a date on it which suggests the menu may change daily.

At Chartier, they serve what they call "traditional French" - comfort food in our eyes.  They are really quick about bringing the customers their food.  We suspect that it's pretty much a buffet line that the waiters just pick from and serve the patrons.

Bacon salad.  It's actually "lardons"
Can't go wrong with bacon.

Appetizer: Shrimp with mayo

To my disappointment, we all wolfed down our meals before I realized I wanted to take a photo of it.  Beef bourgignon, coq au vin, and a steak was had.

Dessert: Madam Blanc
Ice cream, meringue crumbs, whipped cream, chocolate sauce
and my Lactaid pill on the spoon

Dessert: Peche Melba
Peaches, whipped cream, ice cream

A pair of Swedes sat across the table from us.  My FIL informed me that typically, Swedes are quite racist, which I find rather funny because they got seated at the same table as a pair of Japanese couple.  These Swedes didn't know how to party either, we had some rose wine left and offered it to them (they were just ordering at that time, we thought we might "help" them with their order) they turned it down!!  It's not like we were drinking straight out of the bottle.  Geez!  If there's one thing I've learned from university, that would be "never waste liquid gold".

Let's move onto the Montparnasse district.  There's a Belgian place that specializes in fries and mussels.  Their slogan is something like "mussels give you energy".  The inside kind of feels like a Denny's but the quality is far from it.

There seems to be other branch locations of Leon, but apparently, this particular location is where my FIL hung out when he went to school.

We each ordered a pot and it came with fries
I had the Mariniere and Mr. Meow had the Ardennaise
Some deep fried cheese in the foreground as appetizers

Paris 2011: Leon Mussels

Seattle 2003: Ivar's Clams
There is a pattern here, folks

This location seems to attract a 20-something crowd, with the occasional seniors.  The waiter we had was upbeat and quick - both feet and in the head.

Next, we go just a few blocks down to a place called Hippopotamus in Montparnasse.  According to Mr. Meow, it's like a TGIF in the states.  Looks like a Moxie's to me.

Some kids are there with their parents; a couple of ladies are having a quiet girl's night out; couples eating with other couples...pretty generic crowd.

This place mostly does steaks and burgers it seems, but their appetizers is something from a whole different world.

Appetizer: Ox Marrow
Rather greasy, but pretty darn good with mustard and bread
There was a girl (~10 y.o) across the table who ordered it,
shows you how unrefined North American palettes can be.

FIL demanded that I retake the photo with the beer in it
because "it's not proper without the beer"

Appetizer: Nem frites
Spring rolls eaten with a mint leaf and a leaf of lettuce.

Appetizer: Crispy Shrimps
Been there, done that.

I will not comment on the flavour or texture of the beef if it's from outside of Alberta.  I've been so spoiled by the beef here that I think nothing else is comparable.  Though I will say that my burger was juicy and done to the correct rawness.  The waiter though, was as dim as a Toc-H lamp, cheery guy though.

Next: French Cafe Styles

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