Thursday, February 13, 2014

Two Days in Paris: Day 2

On my second day in Paris, I took a stroll along another not-to-miss-street: Rue Montorgueil. I was there early (read: 9 on a weekday morning), having missed an opportunity to dine at Claus for breakfast.

I have read only positive reviews of Claus, a "breakfast-grocery" shop nestled in the 1st arrondissement.  As grocer, Claus offers a small selection of gourmet breakfast products including gluten-free options (jams, tea, cereals, rice pudding).  The dine-in menu at Claus features their house-made muesli, yogurts, eggs, sandwiches, fresh juices, and a variety of baked delights including cakes and scones.  Claus is small (seating about 16), and even on a weekday morning was all out of seats by the time I had arrived.  Disappointing, but I will just have to add it to my list for the next time I'm in Paris (with a note to make reservations!).
Stohrer, one of Paris' oldest barkeries
Still needing some breakfast, I headed several blocks north to Rue Montorgueil.  Restaurants, cafes, bakeries, fishmongers, cheese shops, produce stands, and flower shops line this cobble-stoned pedestrian market street.  But it being an early weekday morning when I visited, the liveliness and bustle characteristic of the street were absent.  I stopped by La Maison Stohrer, one of the oldest bakeries in Paris (it opened in 1730) and picked up a brioche praline.  The pink specks dotting the brioche drew my eye; what I did not know (until I bit into it) was that the specks were actually sugar-coated almonds and hazelnuts. While delicious, the brioche was very sweet, rather too sweet for breakfast; it was, after all, candy-studded bread.

January is the month for winter sales in Paris.  Most everywhere you go, you will see "Soldes" signs splashed across shop windows.  I headed to St-Germain-des-Pres for some shopping on my last day in Paris.  The area abounds with shops, from fashion boutiques to trendy accessories shops to luxe home stores.  As is always the case, a few hours spent shopping meant I was ready for a meal.

Lunch was at Les Relais de'l Entrecôte, a short walk from the main shopping streets of the 6th.  Entrecôte is a Parisian steakhouse; its interior is that of a classic French brasserie complete with banquette seating and wooden tables that are covered in brightly colored tablecloths (red, blue, green, yellow).  The waitresses wear a classic uniform of black dress and white apron. The restaurant has a no-reservation policy and there is often a queue of people waiting to dine for lunch and dinner.  Having arrived at noon on a cold winter weekday, however, I was seated immediately, although the restaurant filled up quickly over the hour I was there.  
Entrecôte has a set menu for lunch and dinner -- steak frites -- and restaurant goers are given only a few options for their meal: how they would like their steak prepared (well done, medium, or rare; nothing in-between), and their choice of beverage and dessert.  Having read about the restaurant, I had come knowing what to expect, though I can't say I was fully prepared: after some translation difficulties, which my waitress resolved by enlisting the help of someone who spoke English, I managed to order my steak "medium."  

The meal was delicious!  A salad (field greens tossed with a tangy mustard vinaigrette and topped with chopped walnuts) was brought out first, moments later followed by the steak, which was presented in four strips, cooked perfectly, and smothered with a tasty sauce poivre which I soaked the frites in.  Halfway through the meal, a surprise: the waitress came by with a "refill" of more steak and frites!  Alas, I had absolutely no room for dessert after cleaning my plate.  

After a bit more shopping, I made one final stop before leaving St-Germain-des-Pres: an afternoon tea break at Mamie Gauteaux.  

The moment you walk in Mamie Gauteaux, you feel as if you've stepped inside a dear friend's home.  The main room, filled with wooden tables flanked by chairs and small stools, gives way to a table counter displaying the day's selection of cakes and pies.  High shelves, lined with delicate, colorful bowls, run along the cream-colored walls.  Nestled between two tables is an antique stove, further lending to the cheery charm of the cafe.  I ordered the lemon meringue tart: the pastry was crisp and the giant, marshmallow-sized meringue puffs nicely balanced the tart lemon curd.  
the lemon meringue tart at Mamie Gateaux
And this is how I spent my second day in Paris: following my taste buds, reveling in the deliciousness that is this city. 


  1. Unlimited steak and frites, the French have it right! Well done on both your trip and the descriptive chronicle, this will definitely be used as my recommendation guide for Paris.

    1. Yes, indeed, the French do have it right! :) Thanks so much for your comment, and so glad this post will come in handy for your trip to Paris!