This month we feature two classic restaurants in Paris, one with a storied past and the other, a brasserie popular with locals.
La Grande Cascade
Longchamp racetrack, a legendary Paris landmark, and the Bois de Boulogne, the beautiful park where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor resided, are the backdrop for La Grande Cascade. Constructed as a hunting lodge for Napoleon III in the mid-1800s, the building was turned over to the city and transformed into a restaurant designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1900 Universal Exhibit.
The sheer elegance of the restaurant is immediately visible from the outside with a Belle Epoque style pavilion with a dramatic butterfly glass awning and eye-popping teal blue ironwork. Once inside, the luxury continues in the dining room with Venetian crystal chandeliers, wine colored velvet dining chairs, elaborate table settings with the finest china, linen and crystal and a painted sky mural on the ceiling.
The extravagant menu descriptions were glorious and made it hard to narrow down our choices. We settled on the house specialty for the appetizer, a sophisticated version of an American staple food, macaroni and cheese with truffle and foie gras. Satisfying but not overly rich, we savored every bite. Lobster on a bed of orzo with Iberian ham bits and sole with salted butter and chanterelle mushrooms balanced out our appetizer. Dessert was a tour de force, Crepe Suzette prepared at the table. We watched in awe as our waiter worked his magic by taking a copper pan and making caramel, followed by adding orange peel and lemon juice, and finally pouring Grand Marnier to make it flame, spooning the mixture over warm crepes.
Executive Chef Frederic Robert, who worked at worked at the three-star Michelin restaurant L’Ambroisie and Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton, has merited a Michelin star at La Grande Cascade, which is well deserved in our opinion for his superior and creative menu, along with service bordering on perfection and the beautifully appointed dining room.
Bois de Boulogne, Carrefour de Longchamp, 75016
Open everyday for lunch and dinner
Authentic brasseries not pining for the tourist trade are not easy to find in Paris anymore, but Chez Georges is proof that Parisians still cling to their tried and true foods.
The décor of the dining room is straightforward: pale yellow walls, dark wood dining chairs, French turn of the century sconces and a few vintage posters to give some character. Tables are set with white linens and the only sign of whimsy is the plates with illustrated scenes of Paris landmarks.
Well prepared, simply presented food is the focus at Chez Georges.
Six good-sized escargot cooked in butter, garlic and parsley were excellent and not too rubbery and vegetable consommé warmed us from the cold winter night. Sliced leg of lamb didn’t look very pretty on the plate but the taste and the super tender texture more than made up what lacked in presentation. Millefeuille with delicate pastry cream inside and pot de crème of coffee, chocolate and vanilla, cutely served in three separate espresso cups, were a divine finish. A robust bottle of Malbec complimented our hearty meal.
We arrived at 7:30 to a mostly empty restaurant, but it was full by 8:30. We seemed to be the only Americans among a crowd consisting of mostly French businessmen and women. At the table next to us a couple ordered filet mignon and it arrived completely unadorned, without a trace of garnish. This singled out the importance of the quality of the food, as the restaurant had the confidence to know that it’s the food that truly counts, not the presentation.
273 Boulevard Pereire, 75017
Open everyday for lunch and dinner