Yes there is horrible food in Paris (hint: don’t eat out late)

The scene looks innocent enough, doesn’t it?  The neighborhood cafe on the corner.

It’s late.  Nowhere else will serve you and they are open.  Full of Parisians smoking cigarettes, drinking beers and doing what Parisians do late at night in a cafe and that means talking and smoking.  The place was hopping and we were happy to find it, it was a few blocks from the Yellow Flat and we had been walking for way more than an hour hoping to find somewhere that would serve us.

We should have noticed that no one was eating.  But hey, how bad could be?

The evening began with a walk up towards Montparnasse hoping to finally eat a restaurant that served crepes that I had always wanted to go to.  Everyone in the family had eaten at Ty Breiz but me.  Well, I still haven’t.

We left our apartment at 10:15 on foot and although we didn’t know it we were doomed from the start.  The evening was beautiful and so was the walk but by the time we reached Ty Breiz it was 10:40 and the kitchen was closed.  Despite our plaintive looks and tourist demeanor they were done for the evening and worse yet had no recommendations on where to go.

Heading back in the direction of Eiffel Tower we encountered a number of reactions at restaurants and cafes most of which were polite but all with the same result.  Sorry, we are closed.  Most shut by 10:30, some by 10.  And that was that, we were hungry and demoralized with an empty kitchen back at the Yellow Flat, after all, we had arrived from San Sebastian that afternoon.

Rounding the corner at La Motte Piquet and Grenelle, we were excited to see that La Pierrot was open and crowded.  We got a table looking out at the corner, a cold glass of Sancerre for she who only drinks dry white wine and a Pression (draft beer) for me.  We ordered simple, a Croque Monsieur and a Salad Nicoise. How bad could they be?

Very very bad.

The Croque was raw.  That is right.  Raw.  Raw vegetables, soggy cheese and a mayonnaise sauce plopped over it that turned the bread to goo.  It was cold.  The salad had no eggs canned olives, limp string beans (also canned) and what seemed like a can of tuna tossed on it. It was drowning in a horrible dressing and  it was an embarrassment to its heritage.

We couldn’t eat more than 1/2 of our plates and our waiter asked if everything was alright.  We told him exactly what we thought and in classic gallic fashion he looked at us sympathetically,  shrugged his shoulders and walked on, Later when he brought our change he gave us lots single euro coins hoping against hope that we would tip him anyway.  We left him some sous and went home thinking about how Paris can screw up food just like any big city.  Another Paris dinner lost.

The lessons are simple: Paris can be a difficult city to eat in. Plan your dinners in advance, make reservations and above all don’t eat out late in Paris.  That is unless you go to a brassiere that is known to be open late and can spend.  If not give up. Don’t bother looking for a decent restaurant, eat a crepe if you can find one on the street and above all stay away from La Pierrot.


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