Paris – Astier

Not a good day today. Plan: fly to Paris via Zurich, arrive around lunchtime, and visit an exhibition in the afternoon. Reality: I arrive in Venice airport to find it wreathed in a thick spring fog, incoming plane is delayed, I miss the connecting flight in Zurich, and have to wait two hours for the next one. Result: a day wasted hanging around in airports and I only arrive in Paris at 6 pm!

But Paris has a special je ne sais quoi that revives the jaded business traveller. Maybe the warm evening sunlight shining on the boulevards? Or the colourful array of all kinds of little shops, offering clothing for grosses tailles, upscale bathroom fixtures or boulangeries that might have been there a few generations? My spirits lift and soon it’s time for dinner!

I decide to explore the surroundings of my hotel in the Place de la République. Not far away is Astier, a small bistro with closely spaced tables, wood panelling and napkins the same size as the tablecloths!

The menu is a selection of bistro standards, with some nice alternatives in the fish department. But I’m in the mood for meat, so as a starter I order an excellent foie gras de canard with a glass of sweet Jurançon wine. This is quickly followed by the main course of lapin à  la sauce moutarde, tender rabbit legs with a delicate mustard sauce.

Next comes a highlight in Astier: a truly huge plateau de fromages with over two dozen cheeses, brought to the table on a wire trestle, similar to the seafood plate in other restaurants. A real temptation, and for a cheese lover as me, it’s not easy to resist trying a little bit of this, then a litle bit of that… weight watchers be warned! After this feast, no room for dessert! Oh, alright, I confess to having a refreshing sorbet de mangue to clear my palate!

From the impressive wine list, I chose a very decent Loire Valley red, Saumur Champigny Chateau de Hureau 2002.

Excellent value, with the menu fixe at Euro 27 + wine.

Astier, 44 rue J. Pierre Timbaud, Paris 11e.

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