Paris Restaurant: Le Petit Châtelet
Le Petit Châtelet
39 rue de la Bûcherie
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.
As 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.
You have several dishes to choose from, all traditional but with a hint of creativity.
I began with a Crawfish Salad with Toasted Hazelnut.
3rd 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.
I 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.
The 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.
Since 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.
4th 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.
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 + Dessert: 28€ – 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.