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1950s Archive

An Epicurean Pilgrimage to Paris

Part I - The Left Bank

continued (page 6 of 7)

Brasserie Lipp

151 boulevard Saint-Germain (6e) Littré 53-91

Candidly admitting a prejudice, I still contend that the best beer, the best tboucroute garnie, and the finest Brie cheese in Paris are found in this celebrated brasserie in the heart of the now overpopular Saint - Germain - des - Prés quarter. Nocturnal Bohemia may have migrated here from Montparnasse, but Lipp' remains unchanged and uninfluenced by the pseudo-Existentialists who arc a dime a dozen at the Café de Flore, across the street. Nor do the Beaux Arts students appear in force as they used to, which is a pity. The clientele of Lipp' has always embraced some of the most interesting personages in Paris, from Andre Gide to Picihia. Leon Blum to Herriot, Aldous Huxley to Hemingway. The literary character is due partly to the owner, Monsieur Cazes, who created a literary prize bearing his name. In the last quarter century. Monsieur Cazes' moustache has changed from a luxurious black handle-bar number to a closely cropped gray executive model. The lynx-eyed lady at the high desk overlooking the cash register has flowered into becoming rotundity. Otherwise nothing seems to have changed at all. The place is still garishly lighted still adorned with mirrors and flamboyant decorative tiles in the giddy manner of 1900.

The menu at Lipp' is largely Alsatian, and li nited to a few well-studied choices: classic hors-d'oeuvre (Alsatian foie gras, if you wish), an impeccable cboncroute, a pate en croiite with green salad, a few well-ripened cheeses, and luscious Alsatian fruit tarts. There are always a couple of plats du jour to vary the monotony. Besides the beer. Lipp' cellar contains tempting white wines from Alsace and Anjou and a seductive choice of fruit brandies: quctsch, kirseb, mirabelle, and framboise. The prices arc truly reasonable, about the best value on the Left Bank. Closed on Monday, and for three weeks in August.

Chez Joséphine

117 rue du Cherche-Midi (6e) Litiré 52-40

This is one for the reminiscent francophile, the sentimental diner who longs for the old-fashioned French restaurant of Ins youth, with none of these present-day affectations, Chez Joséphine is precisely the simple type of neighborhood restaurant which inspires portly exdoughboys to misty-eyed reverie. Monsieur Duranton, the black-mustached patron, wears a blue apron and shakes hands with you across the zinc bar as you come in. The menu is a good honest one with classis French dishes and husky wines en carafe.

Joséphine is out in the kitchen, and it is her skillful touch which has earned for this simple place a rung high on the gastronomic ladder. I can't remember having tasted better asparagus or boeuf bottrguignonne. They say that Josephine is at her best as a roaste: of fine birds. The patron and a little bespectacled maid handle all the service. Put a decimal point before the last two figures of your bill and you could be back in 1917-that' how little the externals of this little place have changed. It is probably the most “typical” establishment on this list. The neighborhood is a bit out of the way and not very interesting, but you will find Joséphie' cooking, atmosphere, and prices beyond reproach. Closed Sunday and during August.

Pré-Aux Clercs

30 rue Bonaparte (6e) Odeon 41-73

Good food is easy znough to find in costly places. The real accomplishment in Paris is to uncover truly inexpensive ones with comparable virtues. They do exist-by the dozens. Last summer we followed a little book by Odette Pan-ncticr called 101 Bons Pettis Restaurants de Paris, but with indifferent success. It' all a matter of patience, If you look long enough, one turn; up, and everyone seems to find a favorite after a lime. Here in the heart of the Latin Quarter is a restaurant which I've known since my student days, and winch may prove a favorite of yours.

The Préaux-Geres offers an excellent prix fixe meal for 350 francs, including cover charge, or almost exactly a dollar. Wine and service are extra. It is a copious meal, too. The bers-d'oetwre varies (a fast vanishing feature in Paris) are plentiful and diverse. There is a good choice of pièces de résistance, all generous and nourishing, plus cheese, fruit, or pastry, This restaurant was for gener-ations dear to students at the Ecole qes Beaux Arts near by, and you will sec-some of their paintings on the walls. It is familiar to countless Americans, particularly the architects, but the present management and prix fixe policy will come as news to many of them. The Pré-aux-Clercs has dignity and a very real charm. Try it, when your travelers' checks run low.

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