Tuesday nights, we’ve decided, are perfect for wandering around the art galleries in the 6th arrondissement. A friend of ours was showing one of his paintings in a new gallery exhibition last week, and he invited Nick and me to the opening. While searching for the place, we came across numerous galleries that also seemed to be having open houses. “Is Tuesday gallery-opening day?” we wondered, and plan on further investigation in the near future.
On this particular evening, dressed in our Parisian art gallery opening finest (mostly black, with a scarf), we stumbled across a pub whose happy hour went until 9:00 pm, with what were probably the cheapest beers on the Left Bank, at two and a half euros a pint. Needless to say, we ducked in for a quick one while I consulted my Pudlo guide to see if there were any affordable nearby restaurants. Surprisingly, there were a handful. We ended up choosing La Tourelle, which was described as “inexpensive, congenial and authentic.”
After making our way through the narrow side streets of St. Germain des Prés, we arrived at our destination. As we walked in I noted that the building looked like it was going to fall over, but when we stepped inside, the place was cozy and reassuring. The Most Efficient Waitress in Paris seated us promptly and brought us menus and a carafe of water almost immediately. The menu, barely bigger than an index card, somehow managed to contain a large selection of tempting dishes. After some deliberation, we made our decisions and placed our order (man, this woman is fast compared to standard Parisian service).
Soon, the starters arrived. I had the salade de chèvre chaud, a salad topped with fried goat cheese.
It was delicious. The warm chèvre had a thin, crispy coating which contrasted nicely withthe creamy cheese underneath. It was served on a bed of fresh lettuce tossed with a mustardy house-made vinaigrette.
Nick got the house-cured salmon with fresh dill.
The salmon had a pleasant melt-in-your-mouth texture with just enough bite to let you know you were eating something. The flavor was marvelous, the fresh dill complementing the full-bodied salmon beautifully. Let it also be noted that the bread served here was better than average.
For our main courses, we both went with meat. I chose the grillade de porc with Béarnaise sauce.
The pork was well-cooked, by which I mean, juicy meat with a crisp exterior. For some reason, the Béarnaise sauce was served cold. I was a little disappointed, but at least it had good tarragon flavor. The obligatory potatoes were seasoned to perfection but varied wildly in their degree of doneness. The best ones were golden and crisp with fluffy interiors, but there were some duds that remained soft and white.
Nick’s entrecôte, which he ordered à point (medium-rare), came out perfectly cooked. The beef was flavorful and the Roquefort sauce was an excellent companion – full Roquefort flavor but not at all overwhelming to the rest of the plate.
We washed our meals down with a pichet of the vin du mois, a 2003 Graves red. After cleaning our plates, we split the “Sublime de Chocolat” which turned out to be a slice of chocolate terrine, or dense flourless chocolate cake.
It wasn’t much to look at, but it was served at cellar temperature (i.e. not straight from the fridge) which was a good start. A house-made orange confit slice made me smile, but I could have done without the limp, pointless mint leaf. The texture of the dessert was really nice: it felt like a thick mousse dissolving on your tongue. The chocolate itself, almost certainly Callebaut (I’d know that chalkiness anywhere), left much to be desired. Made with a quality chocolate, this could indeed be a stellar finish to a meal here.
Instead of jumping straight into the Métro, we decided to walk across the river and enjoy the romantic city lights, especially the magnificent façade of Nôtre-Dame. From art gallery opening to fine bistro dinner to the nighttime walk along the Seine, living in Paris just does not get old.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.