When I travel, one of my first pit stops is twitter, where I ask the hivemind for recommendations. Results are mainly successful, sometimes bizarre, but always a brilliant starting point when travelling and wanting to eat well. Particularly when you want to eat as locals do and off the tourist track.
When I recently asked for recommendations for Paris, two people I really rate resounded “You have to go to Les Papilles”, so I took that as an order and I did.
Les Papilles is part epicerie, part wine shop, mainly restaurant. It is wooden and warm with a big round table in a bay window / alcove at the back and all other tables seemingly proceeding towards it, lining a long counter and shelves of wine with occasional food bits lining the walls. There is also a downstairs area with a huge table, and lots more wine.
The menu is fixed, you have it or you don’t, although a vegetarian friend in Paris has told me that they can prepare a vegetarian menu if informed in advance.
I love the confidence of a fixed menu. There is little worse than a menu that reads like a bible, and a haphazard one. I like that I can walk in and say, I will have what you’re serving, and can I have this wine please? Especially when choosing the wine involves cruising the wine shelves and plonking it on your table for the waiter to open. Speaking of which, prepare yourself for the occasional visit to your table if you are sitting next to the wine.
We went for lunch – we were too late to get a dinner reservation – and were presented with a blackboard with the menu written on. The food was hearty, precise, full of flavour and very French. The soup and main course were served family style to share at €33 per person. The portions were very generous and the food beautifully executed. I would hop on the eurostar solely to go back.
30 Rue Gay-Lussac 75005 Paris, France
01 43 25 20 79
Nearest metro: Luxembourg