Les Papilles Restaurant & Wine Bar

Although not Michelin-starred, one of my favorite restaurants in Paris is Les Papilles. I have to admit that I rarely go there, since it’s equally far from any métro station, and I don’t make it over to that part of town very often. But when a friend called me about having a leisurely Saturday lunch, I jumped at the opportunity to revisit the restaurant.

A few people commented when I first wrote about Les Papilles a few months back, and I mentioned the “Small portions“. Well, I guess I had been there on a day when they handed out menus (it was a weekday), when I had ordered a tartine, an open-faced sandwich that I recall as being not-too-filling for my American-sized appetite.

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When I returned for lunch on a saturday, they were offering one menu, which looked great (and since we had no choice), sat in anticipation of a great meal.

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This first thing you notice about Les Papilles is the wine, and the place does double-duty as a wine bar. The window has boxes and boxes of bottles of wine stacked neatly, and as you walk in, one side of the restaurant is entirely devoted to wine and a few choice food products, like smoky pimente d’Espelette, chocolate sauce with sour cherries, and chocolate-dipped almonds, that are definitely worth trying to pilfer…just kidding, no need to take the risk since they offer a small bowl of them with coffee.

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Before you start, the waiter suggests ou choose your own bottle of wine, which arranged by region, and the staff are happy to help. Since it was sunny and brisk outside, and the menu was decidely autumnal, I picked a 2005 Sancerre from Domaine des Quarternons, which was crisp and full-flavored, with a hint of cassonade, or cane sugar. I knew it would be good with our first course, and I wasn’t wrong. (It’s hard to go wrong with white Sancerre, anyways.)

We started with a velouté of carrots, served with coriander seeds, a creamy quenelle sweetened with honey, and crisp hunks of smoked bacon, which came alongside in an over sized white soup plate. Aside from the slightly-annoying bits of coriander and cumin dust on the side of the plate (why do places that serve nice wine use cumin with such recklessness?) the soup was lovely, and we were able to ladle out ourselves from the tureen the waiter left on our table.

Our main course was a poitrine of pork, a centimeter-thick slab of braised then sautéed pork belly served in a copper casserole in a rich broth with young potatoes, mushrooms, black olives, and dried tomatoes. Off to the side was a brilliant-green dish of pistou, which had the intended effect of lightening up the whole dish, a wise counterpoint to the hearty pork and potatoes.

Afterwards, a small, blue-veined wedge of artisanal Fourme d’Ambert cheese from the Auvergne was brought to the table with a poached prune and a swirl of red wine reduction on the plate, followed by dessert; a glass of panna cotta with Reine Claude plum puree on top, that we both licked clean.

Completely sated, we left Les Papilles completely happy, with the rest of our Sancerre in tow, which the waiter gladly re-corked for us before sending us on our way.

Les Papilles
30, rue Gay-Lassac
RER: Luxembourg
Tél: 01 43 25 20 79



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5 comments

  • sounds just my kinda place – althoug I might take an age selecting the wine!

  • Hey David, I took my boyfriend there for his birthday last March, on Clotilde from C&Z’s recommendation, and I think it’s one of the best restaurant experiences I have had in a long time… I’m dying to go back again, but on my tight budget, I can only do a really nice restaurant from time to time, so I’ll be saving it for another special occasion. Again, I know it isn’t a Michelin-starred restaurant, but the food was so well-prepared and the quality of the products seemed excellent. Plus, I think the “retour du marché” fixed menu is such a nice idea — especially for an indecisive gal like me! (my middle name is indecision…) The only tough part, effectivement, is choosing the wine!

    I still remember the soupe de chataignes we had as our first dish, and the truly original dessert… Oh when will I be able to go back?!

    Thanks for mentioning Les Papilles again!

  • Now THAT’S the Les Papilles I know and love. And still only 28,50E!

  • I’d like to know how long it takes to print that ardoise with such perfect penmanship…. Great looking recommendation.

  • We visited the restaurant back in summer of 2004. To this day, I remember everything we ate. It was FANTASTIC and not just because I had one of those wonderful food/wine perfect-pairing experiences. We are finally returning here in winter 2010 and I can’t wait to go back.