I first tried to eat at Les Papilles last May on a weekend trip to Paris. I walked in, saw all of the about 15 tables filled and one lone vacancy at the bar. “Can I sit for dinner?” I asked the host. He shook his head with a little smirk. “No, I’m sorry, we’re full.” After reading more and more reviews I realized that Les Papilles is not a place you can just walk in and expect a table: It is well-known for exceptional food in a decidedly casual atmosphere and you definitely need a reservation.
On my most recent trip to Paris in March 2014, I booked a week in advance for a prime 7:30pm spot. Even so, we were about 10 minutes late and our table was given away though the host reserved a spot for us at the bar with a glass of champagne as compensation. You get it yet? This place is popular. 🙂
And for good reason. There’s one set menu each day. Four courses. Whatever the chef feels like making. (Read: seasonal and fresh). While this lack of choice may give some diners trepidation, I love eating this way – I’d rather the chef just bring me what he wants and be surprised.
The experience is yours for 35 Euros, a tremendous value for any meal in Paris but particularly impressive given the beautiful cuisine. If you’re a wine aficionado, you can choose a bottle from the wall to pair with your dinner and the staff will help you choose if you need a little inspiration.
On my visit, the menu started with a luscious Vicyssoise served in a pot tableside to pour yourself over crispy croutons, bacon and crème fraiche. The main course was a pork belly served with seasonal vegetables in a rich sauce accompanied by vibrant green pesto. A bit of soft bleu cheese followed before dessert of panna cotta with apple compote and caramel. Each dish is served family style for your party and the presentation evokes dining in a kindly French friend’s home rather than a restaurant in the heart of Paris.
The simplicity, quality and value of this unassuming restaurant near the Luxembourg Gardens was well worth the wait. You can rest assured though that it will be a staple spot each time I visit Paris from now on!
Les Papilles 30, Rue Gay-Lussac Paris 01 43 25 20 79
© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2014.