October 31 2012
I got into writing this blog because I was enthralled by the choice of restaurants in Paris. I needed to keep track, to remember where I'd been - and if I can share it with other people, even better. Everywhere you turn, you discover something new, something you didn't know was there. There are 20,000 cafes, hotels and restaurants in this city. And yet it seems the expat food bloggers' echo chamber is limited to the same three or four. Why?? (If you read other blogs, you'll probably know what I mean.) Yes, the selected few offer the first-time tourist an 'authentic Parisian experience' and they most likely offer a free drink to the blogger writing about them.... but is that really the be-all-and-end-all?
In my opinion, the 'ultimate Paris experience' is not being at a Michelin-starred restaurant (they're all over the world), it's not having some pouting French waiter ignore me for half an hour when all I want is a quick shot of coffee. For me, I think, the ultimate experience would be to be invited to a Parisian apartment, to have some good French home cooking and to talk to people who have lived here and can tell me about its quirks.
I digress. One of my channels for finding new places is the website Le Fooding. They cover so many new spots that I can be sure of finding something that piques my interest and ideally some place that I haven't already heard about. One of these such places was the Soul Kitchen. It was enough just to read the magic words "chili con carne", "mac'n'cheese", "tiramisu", I was already dialling the number to bag my spot.
Imagine my disappointment then, when I arrive, stumble through the door, trip over buggies, umbrellas, and various coat-like obstacles laid out specially, designed to keep me on my toes (or rather not, as it happens) and then learn that there are no tables available and the best they can do is put me on a tablette facing the wall. (When I phoned, they had said there was no need to book.)
Then, on inquiring what there was on the menu, I was told that all that was left was one slice of onion and blue cheese tart (which, although certainly home-made, looked like it'd been sitting out on the counter for far longer than I would like to imagine.) That was it.
You see, this is what gets me grouchy. It was only 1.20pm on a Wednesday. It says non-stop right? There was no chili, no mac'n'cheese and certainly nothing worth paying 10 euros for. Nothing other than one piece of tart. Where Le Fooding got their information from, I have no idea..... but it's like we went to two completely different places.
Go to "Au Relais" instead. It's just over the road.