15, Rue d’Augereau
Metro Station: Ecole Militaire (Line 8)
Type of cuisine: Creole (Reunion, Madagascar, Martinique, and Guadaloupe)
Days & hours of operation: Open every day Noon – 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, MasterCard
Getting to Chez Lucie requires a good bit of walking, because the closest metro station is about 10 minutes away by foot. However, once you arrive, your effort will be well rewarded with friendly service and exotic cuisine!
Chez Lucie is a small restaurant with a capacity of about twenty-four persons. Didier, the proprietor, hails from Martinique and has been operating this restaurant for about twenty years. The restaurant is eclectically decorated, mixing photographs from the islands with the rustic decor of a Savoyard chalet.
We each ordered punch as an apéritif, and sipped these while we studied the 25€ fixed-price menu. My Maracudja was made with passion fruit and rum. Served in a glass cup, it was a powerful beverage. My partner’s Ti’ punch citron vert, served in a squat glass, was equally persuasive. We were provided with a generous portion of salted peanuts to accompany our beverages.
For the starter, I ordered Bouchon Réunionnais, four steamed raviolis containing shredded pork. The dish was mild, but alongside was a bowl of Bonda Man Jack, a powerfully spicy pepper sauce, which gave off more than enough heat to set a city aflame!. The name of the pepper is a salacious reference to its shape, which resembles the well-developed backside of a certain Madame Jack. May she continue to add piquant to Creole dishes! My partner chose the Bonbon piment Réunionnais, ground beans (called pois du Cap on Reunion Island, they are similar to lima beans) pressed into a patty and fried. These, too, were given added spice thanks to Madame Jack.
For the main course, I decided upon a beef stew from Madagascar called Roamazava. It contained a type of green, which Didier said was spinach, but which resembled the flowering herb called brèdes (Acmella oleracea or Spilanthes acmella). Didier advised me to taste the single, unopened flower bud that was in the stew. I did this and declared that it tasted like caper. He said that the flower bud of this plant produces a tingling, numbing effect in the mouth. I later researched the plant on the Internet and found this to be true; however, I did not experience this sensation.
My partner selected Poulet boucané, or smoked chicken prepared with onion and garlic and served in a sauce with a mound of white rice. She found this dish quite satisfying, but added a touch of…Bonda Man Jack to give it some zest.
Thick-sliced, fresh baguette was served alongside in a basket.
Came time for dessert and I ordered Négresse au chocolat, a warm, rich, dense chocolate cake in the shape of a disc, served with crème anglaise and chocolate syrup. My partner selected from the frozen desserts and chose rum raisin ice cream and two scoops of lime sorbet.
The bill for two persons, including three apéritif cocktails and two three-course, fixed-price menus, came to 71.00€.
The proprietor, Didier, served us that evening. He brought complimentary glasses of warmed rum at the end of the meal. He was friendly and liked to make jokes, some of which were rather corny. However, his humor enlivened the dinner and endeared us to him and his establishment! The restaurant was half-full when we prepared to leave, and a customer from another table offered to take a photograph of us with Didier.
Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first traveled to France in 1975. A native of northern California, he moved to France permanently in 1992. Reeves’ love of French language and culture inspired him to create Discover Paris!, a travel planning service that caters to Americans interested in cultural travel to Paris. His book, Paris Insights – An Anthology, has been called “the kind of insider’s view of the French capital…that first or even second time visitors pine for.” He publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Paris Insights about history, culture, and contemporary life in the City of Light, and posts daily information about the French capital on Facebook.