I am no longer a Paris virgin; the city of romance is the latest to be knocked off my ‘yet to get to’ list. In fact, while a month ago I had still not been, I’ve now already made two short visits. And, stereotypically, I have fallen in love with the place.
Visit one was the less planned of the two – a few unexpected places became available on a school trip, so I ended up as one of the three adults accompanying 10 students – dream numbers or what? And while I say students, the truth is that they are all aged 17-20, so they hardly needed close supervision. Let’s call this the more educational of my two trips to the capital – taking in the Louvre, the Père Lachaise cemetery, Notre Dame cathedral and so on. Of course, this being my first time, a gaze at the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tour were also obligatory. This was also the cheaper of the two trips (though neither were expensive) – free travel there, back and around, free accommodation and breakfast – my only expenses were on a couple of meals and a ticket to a comedy show. Free is good.
Visit two was all about the steak, the sorbet and the sangria – and damn good it was too. This time was a weekend break, planned for some months now, with two university course mates, one still in the UK and one on placement with the CBI in Brussels. CBI-girl’s boyfriend was kicked out of his central Parisian apartment (walking distance from the Champs d’Elysée) for the weekend, to allow us to take over. Free walking tour, a visit to the Sacré Coeur basilica and a general wander around the Montmartre area, and of course more gazing at the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower (this time by night – pretty) ensued. Plus possibly one of the nicest meals of my life.
L’Ecurie, a cute little place in the 5ème arrondissement, came by recommendation from CBI-girl and her boyfriend, who chose it for a romantic new year’s eve dinner and ended up being paired up with two British couples (CBI-girl and her boyfriend are German, but both study in the UK) – oddly, one of the couples ended up being there on our return to the restaurant. The word divine is overused, but it’s well justified for this place – in equal measures for the food, lovingly prepared to order (literally – we were sat opposite the chef, and he was keeping a close eye as we munched on our entrée, to see when we would be ready for round 2) but also for the service – which is simply unbeatable.
Now this is by no means silver service, and the staff spent most of the night running around like blue arsed flies, but they were clearly passionate, and passion like that rubs off and really makes the atmosphere – which makes the place, no more so than here. Having failed in our attempts to get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe by night, we turned up half an hour early for our 9pm table reservation, and the whole place was full – but we ended up being plied with sangria and antipasti plates, all on the house. The staff’s jovial nature – they clearly love running the place – meant that even though we ended up waiting past nine, it was a pleasure.
Then to the food – a delicately flavoured, not overpowering blue cheese salad, just enough to whet your appetite, followed by a nicely rare bavette (which translates only as ‘flank steak’, it seems) in a mustard sauce, and plenty (perhaps one too many) house-speciality chips. Accompanied of course by more sangria – and all of this was amazing, and had already sealed the deal on the place for me, but it was the sorbet that stole the show. A trio of flavours – a scoop each of mango, pear and raspberry – that were just out of this world. Without a doubt THE best sorbets I have ever tasted. Words don’t come close to describing them – flavours that were literally alive, the pear one in particular like eating a whole fresh pear (but of course a million times better – it’s sorbet!)
Three courses for 20€, up to 24,50€ with a jug of sangria to share and an espresso to finish. Not a bad intro to Paris, I’d say.
L’Ecurie, 2 Rue Laplace, 75005 Paris
T: (00 33) 01 46 33 68 49