Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eating in Paris

Usually when we vacation, I try to rent some kind of apartment so I can control food. But due to the awesome "free" that is our hotel, we're eating out, every day. Although, it's only been twice a day, because let's face it.. we woke up at noon today. Nice, right? I definitely haven't done that without being drugged post surgery or down with 104 degree fever since pre-X.

Anyway, we've eaten lunch at a couple of cafés this week. Day 1 was Le Terminus near Notre Dame on our walk back toward the Eiffel Tower. We had nixed a café on the corner, when I turned my head and saw this one. It was going to be our first sit down experience, and I was dying for someone friendly. The café itself is quite simple and cozy. So, we went in, asked to be seated in the back and ordered drinks, sandwiches and a side of fries to share.

One thing to consider: the exchange rate right now is $1 US to $.73 Euro. That means, one Euro is worth almost 30 cents more than a U.S. dollar. A single can of "coca light" (yes, this is for you Quigs) is somewhere between 4.5-7 Euros. So, yes, you're paying over $5 for a can of coke. Coffee is only 3.5 Euros, which I've switched to for now (because water sometimes is poured for free from a carafe and sometimes comes in a $12 Evian bottle, depending on where you eat). I'm also figuring this is the reason, I'm having so much trouble sleeping, since I'm not a coffee drinker by nature I'm high on caffeine.

In addition, I'd always heard that the reason French people are so thin is because their meals may contain a lot of butter but they're so small in comparison to American meals. Um -- no. My sandwich was as big as a 12" at Subway, on a real baguette. MacTroll was, of course, very happy. The plate of fries, easily two large servings from McDonald's. Sure, they were cut fresh from potatoes, but really, fried is fried. This is just a little less processed. Plus -- doggie bags, not really a thing here. The Lonely Planet Guidebook says so, so I'm going with it.

A 15% tip is automatically included in your check, so it's not really a reward for good service...

Last night for dinner, we at Le Galvacher. It got some good reviews on Google, was close to our hotel and had a giant cow on the sign for my beef-eating husband. We ordered off the prix-fixe menu. That is you order an entree (appetizer), a plat (main course) and a dessert or a cheese plate for a set price. Ours were $25 Euros each. Then we got a bottle of wine for $32 Euros and coffee afterwards. I ordered a vegetable entree with balsamic vinegar to start and then the salmon for dinner. My dessert was a small scoop of pear ice cream with a bit of brandy on top. MacTroll had french onion soup followed by beef hash with potatoes on top (basically meat loaf) and the creme brulée for dessert. It was a lovely dinner and we walked home happy in the rain.

Today for lunch we decided to eat closer to the Louvre. We went inside the Carrousel (which is a mall outside of the museum) to see what they had. At 2:30 p.m., we entered a very crowded food court. "Uh, this isn't why I came to Paris," I told MacTroll. So we strolled outside and hit Café Marly, an eatery next to the glass pyramids. In warmer weather you could sit outside and people watch, but in this cold weather we sat inside on some comfy pink couches. I had a tomato and basil penne. MacTroll had a chicken caesar salad. And we congratulated ourselves on the fact that while our French is terrible, it was a lot better than the poor Australians seated next to us, who were, for some reason, obsessed with NOT getting snails for lunch.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped in a patisserie (bakery) for some snacks. I got a petite éclair and a biscuit (cookie). MacTroll got the black forest cake (admittedly I stole three whole candy cherries from his cake, because you know I have things for cherries).

The one theme that we seem to notice in Paris is that regardless of the type of eatery we sit down in, we always have to ask for the check. It isn't just a given that you want it delivered to you when your plates are clean. You always have to ask. And if you don't, you could be sitting there for hours. At the patisserie, we were seated by one of the guys behind the baked goods counter, this apparently angered the server (it also had a café element in the back of the restaurant), so she ignored us. I'm sure it didn't help that we were American either, since all the French-speaking tables got their service timely and with a smile (and even freaking hugs at one point).

Tonight for dinner, we did the prix-fixe meal at Le Verre Bouteille. They get high marks for being very friendly and welcoming, but the food was mediocre. I ordered the tomato salad and slow-cooked lamb on kidney beans. MacTroll got a walnut-encrusted goat cheese salad followed by a giant piece of beef and a potato layer casserole. Everything seemed overcooked, limp, without taste and just - meh. The wine made things go down easier though, as did the chocolate mousse that followed. :-)

It's late here. I had been hoping to make it up for breakfast at least once, but I don't think that'll happen now. Our room doesn't have any kind of way to make hot water, so I can't make my oatmeal. Instead of having coffee machines in the hotel rooms like in the states, they have a coffee vending machine down the hall by the elevators, and hot water isn't an option, even in the tea setting.

Below is MacTroll crunching on the last of his sandwich on baguette at Paul, Paris' version of Fast Food, since there aren't many places you can carry out (or take away) here.


Deirdre said...

I'm enjoying your insights of Paris! We're laughing remembering how different (and expensive!) a lot of the stuff around here felt three years ago. I hope you have a great rest of your trip! To get plain, tap water, usually asking for "carafe d'eau" will get it for you. You'll probably get a strange look since not many people here drink it (at least where we are).

Quigs78 said...

I don't see the problem. I would totally pay $5 for a Coke Light. ;)