Paris: Day 5

November 11, 2023 • 9:30 am

Another rainy day with just a food report.

We finally went to the restaurant that had cancelled our reservations a few days ago, and also happens to have won the Pudlo Trophy for the Best Bistro in Paris in 2023. Would it live up to that award? Sadly, no, though it was good.

Here it is again: Au Moulin À Vent (“At the Windmill”), located near the Sorbonne on the Left Bank.  (I forgot my camera, so these are iPhone photos):

The menu, a veritable encyclopedia of French bistro classics:

It was cozy inside, with tables jammed near each other (a good way to see what other people have ordered and what the food looks like). Here’s a view from another site, Restaurants Paris:

The most popular entrée seemed to be bone marrow, which came in two huge beef bones served on a wooden plank. I wished I liked the stuff (I had it once and was almost sickened), for people were scarfing it down

My starter, however, was pâté en croûte. It was tasty, but there was not enough of it—a bad sign. It was pretty, though, and by eating a lot of baguette on the side I managed to get enough food to begin with

Winnie had fresh frog legs with parsley, also a popular entrée. I had them years ago in another place, and didn’t much care for them: they tasted like slimy chicken with overtones of fish. Winnie liked them, though, and they were in a pool of parsley and butter:

We both had the same plat—their speciality, “poitrine de veau confit 15 heures, gratin”. This was veal belly cooked in its own fat (15 hours, they say), along with gratin dauphenois, potatoes cooked with cream, milk, cheese and garlic. It was good veal, though quite fatty, and overall a very good dish. Again, though, the portion was small (remember, I eat one meal a day here):

My dessert: profiteroles, or cream puffs, with ice cream and chocolate sauce. I was disappointed as not only was there just one small puff (other places, like the Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes, give you three), and the chocolate sauce was thin and not that fudge-y.

Winnie skipped dessert (she stopped by a patissierie on the way home) and had a dish that they added to the menu while we were there: leeks with smoked herring:

All in all, I’m mystified why Pudlo found this the best bistro in Paris. The service was okay, but not that attentive, the food was good but not great, and it was a bit noisy. Oh, and the portions were small.

Perhaps if you eat three meals a day this would be okay, but my criteria for a good French bistro is that, as well as the food being good, it’s also copious: you can just have lunch there (with perhaps coffee for breakfast), and you don’t need to eat after that. On this trip so far such places have been thin on the ground, perhaps because of the increase in food prices accompanying the pandemic. But I’d rather pay more and leave full. There’s nothing more dispiriting than leaving a bistro and thinking that you might stop by a nearby patissierie to fill the crannies in your stomach.

It was raining, so I hustled to the nearby Jardin des Plantes to see the Exposition of Félins (cats) at the Natural History Museum, open only until January 7. I missed it twice before so this was my chance. But—catastrophe! It was closed, and there were cops all over the place. I have no idea why it was closed, but there was a sign that it was closed for the day, giving no reason:

The only cats that were seen yesterday were these on a jigsaw-puzzle greeting card that Winnie saw on the way back:

Oh well, tomorrow is another day, another restaurant (this time Le Trousseau d’Or).

9 thoughts on “Paris: Day 5

  1. Oh, no—so sorry that the the Exposition of Félins was closed! I felt certain we would see it here for Caturday. I hope nothing is seriously wrong there, and that you will get to see it before you leave.

  2. The museum was closed because of a security scare — presumably because of a phoned threat. This has been happening to Parisian sites since Oct 8. The same thing almost happened to me on October 14, when I had a ticket to the Louvre. The museum was closed just after it had opened that day due to a phoned threat — so every visitor to the Louvre at the time had to be evacuated tout de suite. Luckily I had rebooked for a later date, and on Oct 14 I was at the Orsay for its deeply moving Van Gogh’s last 2 months exhibition.

    This show has an ‘artificial intelligence Van Gogh’ outside the exit, where you can ask a digital avatar anything about art. I asked digital Van Gogh on Oct 14 ‘What do you feel when you paint landscapes?’ It replied, talking about Hawaii — presumably as it misunderstood my New Zealand accent!

  3. It’s “gratin dauphinois” – from Dauphiné (the region). I appreciate your interest in my country’s cuisine but less to your disregard for my language.

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