Here’s our top tip for eating in Paris: Au Chai de l’Abbaye. Located on the rue de Buci in the 6th arrondissement, it has a wonderful typical brasserie decor. There are always a couple of people perched at the bar, the odd drunk stumbling through the door (and being pushed back out by one of the long white apron-clad staff). We’ve become semi-regulars ourselves; Chai is one of those places that so often hits just the spot, whether it’s a post cinema drink, an afternoon coffee or a Sunday evening meal.
But we’d never been on a Friday night. Would it pass the test? One test it certainly passed is the guidebook test. In our experience, any restaurant mentioned in an English guidebook is inevitably filled with ex pats or tourists. Chai is in none of our guides, not even our bible: Zagat. In fact, when you look it up on google there are only a couple of reviews, like the one by Dorie Greenspan who waxes lyrical about their tartines made with Poilane bread and grisons (which do indeed sound scrummy) or another about Chai’s perfect Parisian breakfast. But trust us, this place is wonderful.
Having unexpectedly found ourselves able to leave the office at 7pm, we decided to sneak in a cheeky glass of champagne before meeting the others at 8.30pm. We jumped on the metro to rue du Bac and sauntered down Boulevard Saint Germain. We stopped at the infamous Cafe Les Deux Magots and sat on the heated terrace overlooking the Boulevard and all the wonderful people watching it affords. The champagne was at the upper end of the price bracket – €13 a glass but for 30 minutes of pure entertainment it was worth it.
And then Chai. Wonderful, cosy, welcoming, delicious Chai. It didn’t disappoint. We shared the rillettes de foie and pate campagnarde to start, accompanied by another glass of champagne. For mains, there is only really one dish to choose because it is so absolutely delicious: the morteau aux lentilles. It really is outstanding. Just thinking about it is making us want to head over there now. We decided to try something different this time around and had the cuisse de canard on a bed of butter beans. The skin was wonderfully crispy and the beans tasty but as soon as we had a mouthful of Reuters’ lentils, we were jealous. Washed down with a cheeky Beaumes de Venise, this is what heaven tastes like.
And what of our fellow customers? All French and all ages. Not a single anglophone in the room. Result!
For dessert we ordered a couple of cheeses (a Tomme and a Bleu d’Auvergne – which were served in huge portions) but Reuters won the jackpot: tarte aux pruneaux accompagnee d’une creme chiboust. He only ordered it becuase his first and second choices were no longer available but wow! it was out of this world. Absolutely outstanding! So, there you have it: lentils for main and prune dessert to finish. You won’t ever be disappointed with that combination. And the price? You’ll get away with €40 a head. Can’t say fairer than that.
Cafe Les Deux Magots, 6 place Saint Germain des Pres, 75006 Paris, Tel: +33 1 45 48 55 25
Au Chai de l’Abbaye, 26 rue de Buci, 75006 Paris, Tel: +33 1 43 26 68 26
Au Chai de l’Abbaye: Love it
Here’s our top tip for eating in Paris: Au Chai de l’Abbaye. Located on the rue de Buci in the 6th arrondissement, it has a wonderful typical brasserie decor. There are always a couple of people perched at the bar, the odd drunk stumbling through the door (and being pushed back out by one of the [...]
The Guide's Paris correspondent is a lobbyist by day and a world-class, champion cocktail drinker by night. Having devoured almost every Martini in London, like a swarm of alcoholic locusts, she had no choice but to migrate to pastures new. In the summer of 2010 she moved to Paris from where she continues to report on the very best restaurants, bars and nightlife that her adopted city has to offer. Watch out Milan; it’s only a matter of time…
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