Friday, October 21, 2005
Our Favorite Place to Eat in Paris
I don't think Rick Steves, travel guru for first-timers to Europe, can be praised enough for his recommendation of Philippe's place in Paris.
In Rick's review, he writes that Philippe owned a catering business in Philadelphia for a few years before returning to Paris and finding his "niche" in his small one-man-show restaurant. It was upon his recommendation of his intimate restaurant that two years ago, my husband and I went to Philippe's. We were staying about 6 blocks away, and found him almost by accident.
We had a quiet dinner there our last night in Paris in 2003, and when Philippe brought us the bill (he waits tables and cooks the meal in a very intimate setting) we erroneously read the bill to be $50 Euro instead of $40, so we left him a handsome tip of more than $20...we realized this as we left the place, when we heard a "thank YOU" come out of the restaurant when we were nearly half way down the block.
Well, fast forward to 2005...we loved our meal there, and with our in-laws in tow, we decided to take them on Tuesday night to Philippe's, where we were welcomed with gusto, but with no hint (and no expectation) that Philippe would possibly remember us.
Well, Philippe was the first to ask my husband Brian if he knew him. "You look familiar," Philippe said with his beautiful French accent. "Do I know you?"
My husband's response was "yes, we were here a couple of years ago." and Philippe said "Oh yes, I overcharged you!" HE REMEMBERED US! We didn't hold it against Philippe -- after all, European 5's and 4's look very different, and that was on us.
Philippe has a very casual style by French standards. He literally brings you the menu, written on a chalk board, and explains each item to you, and takes your order when you've had plenty of time to think about what you'd like. One night I thought we were holding him up from closing, and he said "Oh no no no, take your time madame, you're in Paris."
I loved that.
Philippe is very good with his escargot -- just for starters. He has a house wine and $15 Euro menu items that are just lovely. I had a puff pastry one night, some lamb another night, and a steak another night. We ate there a total of 4 times in 7 days there, in part because the food was great, but mostly the wonderful hospitality.
My Mom and Aunt loved him so much they went back on their own one night.
Did I mention the escargot was wonderful? I was never a snail eater, but boy, you taste them soaking in butter and garlic, and I'm converted.
By the end of the week, we'd met his 9-year-old daughter, and on our last night, Philippe asked us to take a picture of him with Brian and for us to send him a copy. It's on the way, our friend.
The name of the restaurant is La Varangue ("The Veranda" in French) is at 27 rue Augereau in the 7th in Paris.
Go look him up.