Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eating Carnivorously in Paris - Part 1: Régis le Caviste

My wife commented to me upon our return from Paris that her memories of Paris seemed to be exaggerated 10 fold as to how great the city was.  That struck me as a curious comment as for all its romanticism, Paris isn't that great a city.  It is one of the dirtiest cities in the world, the people (a huge generalisation but allow me) can be rude and moody and a lot can be said for its confusing public transportation system. 

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One thing you cannot fault though, is the French respect for boeuf, or beef.  There is certainly no heuristic exaggeration in the way beef is treated with respect and loved.  From raw to medium is about as well done as the French would eat it, and for good reason - when one orders a well done steak, you are getting meat that has been sitting idled in the freezer for a while.  Why waste all the flavour on someone who isn't going to enjoy anything other than a charred hockey puck. 

This series is dedicated to several "local" establishments that my wife and I found during our recent visit. "Local" is generally defined as 95% of observed clientele are Parisians.  To kick us off, our first stop is Régis Le Caviste.  Located in the 8th Arrondissement, it can be found on rue Washington, which is not too far from Place Charles De Gaulle.

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It was a distant away from the overpriced tourist traps of Avenue des Champs-Élysées but convenient enough to get too.  We found this place after taking a stroll around the area.  In search for a "local" place, we walked off the beaten path, pass all the tourist trade until we found this charming little shop front.

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The sign is nothing but subtle.  You know what is going to be on the menu.  

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We kicked of with a cool drink of French "artisanal" lemonade. With typical local bistros, the menu was simple.  Entrees consists of terrines, salads and tarts.  Plats was all about beef, however there was two specials that were fish.  Unfortunately, they were all sold out of the specials when we arrived.

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My wife wasn't too hungry (or at least watching her waistline) and she settled for a simple salad of confit tomatoes (or semi dried tomatoes), baby spinach and Parmesan shavings with an aged balsamic dressing, olive oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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I on the other hand was going to feast of boeuf! They had several cuts on offer from entrecôte (or rib eye without the bone) to rumsteck (or rump steak).  This cut was onglet, or hanger steak.  It is a very popular cut in France and 99% of the time, this is the cut you will get if you ordered steak frites from any old bistro.  It has a "ropy" texture with a slight gamey flavour.  It isn't as soft as entrecôte but tasted meatier.  The meat was well seasoned and served with a side of french beans, baby spinach salad and roasted potatoes.  Sea salt and chives were the finishing touch.  

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I requested it that the chef cook it to his preference of doneness, which in this case was medium rare.  This onglet was washed down with a glass of house Bordeaux.  I didn't bother to find out exactly what it was but suffice to say it was a good drop.

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We finished the meal with a wonderful orange cake that was soaked in syrup.  It came recommended by our waiter (and it helps that my wife speaks French).  This was a fantastic dessert and probably the most memorable dessert we had of the entire trip.

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And of course, no French meal would be complete without a coffee afterwards.

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Regis Le Caviste was packed with the local lunch time crowd when we arrived.  We were given the table closest to the entrance and it is by all means not a large restaurant.  If I recall, it sits about 30 to 35 guests.  We finished our meal leisurely and we were not rushed by the staff, who by the time this photo of the interior was taken, had had their own meal and were packing up.  Bistros like these open for lunch, shut at about 3PM and then reopen for dinner at about 7PM. 

Prices for entrees were about 10 Euros, Plats were 20 to 25 Euros and desserts were about 13 Euros.  The house wines will set you back 8 Euros a glass.

If this is how locals eat, then they eat well every day.  Régis Le Caviste is a fantastic restaurant and worth the visit.

Régis le Caviste
37 rue Washington

75008 Paris
tel : 01 42 89 10 97
Métro(s) : Georges V

Part 2 of "Eating Carnivorously in Paris" can be found here and Part Three here.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Damn. That looks good. Want some of that steak (clearly I'm not looking at my waistline LOL.