Metro Station: Laumière (Line 5)
Type of cuisine: French
Days & hours of operation: Mon and Tues noon – 3:00 p.m. Thurs to Sat noon – 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sun noon – 3:15 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, MasterCard
Joggers, parents with their children, and people just going for a stroll love the Parc des Buttes Chaumont on Sunday—even on a cold Sunday. This is what we recently discovered when we showed up at the park’s Pavillon du Lac for lunch. I do not remember ever having seen so many active people in a park on a cold (yet sunny) day in Paris.
The Pavillon du Lac stands inside the park and to the right of the entry gate (as one enters the park) at place Armand Carrel. The handsome building was constructed in 1867 for use as a bistrot. It has recently been totally renovated and has been open for business since June 2010.
We were greeted warmly by the responsible de salle, who showed us to our table next to the window. From there we could observe the busy comings and goings of people running by or walking on the pathway in front of the building. Shortly after we were seated the restaurant filled with diners who came for the Sunday brunch. Many were families with young children.
We began with an apéritif, a glass of Henriot champagne, which we found to be quite dry with notes of green apple.
For the starter, I requested Saumon mariné maison, espuma de Wasabi and was presented with a rectangular plate displaying two slices of salmon and a goblet containing wasabi foam. The salmon was succulent and chewy and I dipped morsels of the fish into the foam. The spicy-hot wasabi (also known as Japanese horseradish) gave sharp contrast to the mild, tender salmon. I’m not too sure that the subtle flavor of salmon should be covered up with such a spicy preparation, but I enjoyed the dish nevertheless.
My partner ordered Velouté de courge musquée, chips de patate douce vitelottes. This was a nice presentation of pumpkin soup in a deep, oval-shaped bowl with chips of Vitelotte sweet potatoes floating on top. The soup was dense without being creamy and only needed a sprinkling of salt to bring out its flavor. Three crisped slices of warm, country baguette were served alongside.
After the waiter informed us that our first choice for the main course—wild deer in whisky sauce—was no longer available, we opted for the Magret de canard du sud-ouest sauce soja, écrasé de topinambour, choux Romanesco. We were treated with another beautiful presentation: a slice of breast of duck cut longitudinally resting on a swath of sweetened soy sauce next to a square mound of crushed Jerusalem artichoke. The duck breast had been pan seared and cooked rare and was tender and moist. The Jerusalem artichokes were savory and buttery.
For the wine accompaniment we each ordered a glass of Domaine du Coriancon 2010, a Côte du Rhône. With a deep, red-purple robe it was medium bodied and slightly tannic and had a note of licorice. However, it did not accompany the duck as well as we had hoped because of the sweetness of the soy sauce.
Thick-sliced, alveoli-riddled, fresh baguette was served alongside in a basket.
Dessert brought more of the chef’s masterful presentations to our table. My Poire pochée au vin rouge, sphère de chocolat, chantilly maison was a fluff of white whipped cream next to a dark-purple pear that had been poached in red wine. A finger of crispy puff-pastry and a dash of chocolate powder garnished the dish. The presentation of my partner’s Vacherin praliné, marron glacé, émulsion lait de coco was no less interesting. The waiter brought a squat canning jar containing a layer of milk chocolate crème topped with crumble and a scoop of chestnut ice cream. Two vanilla meringues protruded from the jar and a pitcher of frothy coconut milk was served alongside. The idea was to pour the coconut milk over the milk-chocolate-crumble-chestnut-ice-cream vacherin, dig in with a spoon, and enjoy—which she did!
The service was friendly and helpful and the restaurant, full of small kids, was rather noisy. In the end however, we enjoyed the meal and the experience of lunch in the handsome pavilion of this beautiful park.
The bill for two, including two glasses of champagne, two three-course menus, and two glasses of wine came to 103€.
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.