Paris Restaurant: Le Petit Châtelet

Posted in our foodie fave

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Le Petit Châtelet
39 rue de la Bûcherie
75005 Paris
01 46 33 53 40
 

I have a problem.  When I see “Traditional French food” or “English menu available” signs, I want to run the other way. When a friend was visiting for a few days I knew she wanted to eat at a “cute traditional French restaurant”, preferably right next to a big national monument. So we tried Le Petit Châtelet (luh puh-tee shah-tuh-ley), located in tourist central, Saint Michel in the 5th arrondissement, a Paris restaurant right across from Notre Dame, but as it turned out 100 miles away from the feel of a tourist trap.

First Impressions

4_1As we walked there, we passed by a few ultra-touristy restaurants, with that fake traditional air about them. 1st surprise: our restaurant looked more authentic and I learned that the building dates back to the 16th century. However, when I walked through the door I thought dang, could this place be any more packed??

2nd surprise: There’s a whole different ambiance on the 2nd floor with a lot more light and a lot less people. I noticed that there were more French people up here, all seated at tables with the most incredible view: Notre Dame Cathedral in all her glory, front and center.

The Food

5_1You have several dishes to choose from, all traditional but with a hint of creativity.

I began with a Crawfish Salad with Toasted Hazelnut.

63rd surprise: Wait a minute….the salad was pretty darn delicious! The crawfish tasted fresh and the cucumber noodles underneath had a hazelnut crunch that I absolutely loved. And the homemade pesto sauce on the side literally made my face glow with happiness.

7_1I then tried my friend’s Warm Goat Cheese Tart with Pesto.

Is that PESTO in your plate? Give it here, I said. The flaky tart was airy and puffy, which went really well with the thicker, creamier goat cheese.

Next came my Seared Sea Bass with Vegetables.

8_1The dish smelled wonderful and tasted even better! The fish was tender and the veggies had a yummy cream sauce that wasn’t heavy at all.

I also nibbled on my friend’s Duck Breast with Pistachio and Gratin Dauphinois (grah-tahn doe-feen-wah). Dauphinos is an old 18th century recipe made with potatoes and crème fraiche.  Simple but scrumptious.

DSC_1734_20140330194600414Since my friend didn’t specify how she wanted her duck cooked, they automatically assumed rare/medium-rare which was spot-on. All in all a well executed savory dish.

For dessert I shared a Poached Pear with Lavender Ice Cream. I am not a big fan of flower-flavored ice cream, it feels like I’m eating bath beads.

DSC_1749_201403302016040854th surprise: Maybe the flower-flavored ice creams I’ve had before just weren’t good or maybe the flavor combination of lavender ice cream with clove-spiced poached pear is the perfect combo, either way, I was eating it and LOVIN’ IT.

The Verdict  

I stand corrected. Even in the most tourist-trap infested areas, you can find “une belle surprise”.  I have always assumed you had to go far away from a tourist concentrated zone to be able to eat well in a non-factory like atmosphere. Turns out, I was wrong!

Price Starter + Main + Dessert28€ – 50€

About the Author: Fooled one too many times by tourist traps, Paris for Epicureans scours the city hunting out restaurants worth your time and money.  Fabulous, so-so, flat out bad, she tells it like it is! Photos taken by Paris for Epicureans unless noted.

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