What can a traveler do when they only have a few hours in the City of Light? The answers are many, I’m sure. As for me, I will always opt for a great meal.
On a recent trip to Paris, being terribly crunched for time while allowing for one single evening to enjoy the city, I committed to try Brasserie Dubillot. My choice was based on two things. First, its great looks, which I had noticed while on a previous stroll through the area. The second, a quasi-recommendation from a Parisian friend. “I’ve heard good things about the Nouvelle Garde Groupe,” she said, while we were searching for a place to eat in the French capital.
We ended up eating elsewhere but the name stuck to mind. Upon further research, I found out that there are two sister restaurants operating under the Nouvelle Garde name: Brasserie Bellanger, in the 10th Arrondissement, and Brasserie Dubillot, in the 2nd.
My dinner guest and I showed up on a Monday evening at 7:35 pm, without a reservation. I wouldn’t recommend that “spur of the moment” attitude, as availability was scarce. Fortunately, we were offered a table for two on the upper floor, squeezed between a young French couple (seemingly on a date) on one side and a posh American duo on the other.
We arrived just in time to watch the restaurant fill to full capacity around us in the span of only five or ten minutes. We kept it short and simple, with an entrée, a dessert, and a glass of wine. We both had the fish of the day: a tender and flaky filet of cod, accompanied by leeks and tiny potatoes, swimming in a creamy bisque. It was cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. The accompanying wine was a dry and fruity Aligoté that brought out the subtle sweetness of the fish. For dessert, I opted for the Paris-Brest, apparently the house specialty. It was good, but my companion’s lemon tart was even better.
I peeked at the neighbors’ dishes as well. The steak frites seemed to please the American man. The French mademoiselle was quite taken with her cocktail, a smoky Old Fashioned, that was presented covered with a large glass cloche — for extra theatrical effect, I assume. It did look great, I’ll give them that.
From the bits of conversation I couldn’t help but hear (we were merely an arm’s length away), everyone sounded happy with their dinner. Add to that attentive and courteous service from start to finish, affordable prices, and a hip and colorful mid-century modern design, and you’ll get a recipe for smashing success.
Brasserie Bellanger, you’re up next for a visit.