Paris Eats: Café Constant
My old roommate just got married in Germany!! And Jeff and I got to celebrate with her and her now husband, along with their close friends and family, at a gorgeous vineyard in Bissersheim. But instead of jetting straight to Germany for the festivities, Jeff and I decided to start our trip in Paris. Plane tickets are so expensive, and we figured if we were flying all that way, we may as well make a real trip out of it. We flew out of Boston on a Saturday evening, arrived Sunday morning, and after checking into our hotel, showering, and changing, we hit the ground running. We wandered through the Musée d'Orsay, marveling over Impressionist works, we took an elevator to the second level of the Eiffel Tower and looked out over Paris, and finally we went in search of dinner.
One of my friends (the same friend who gave us the incredible recommendations for Florence) suggested one of Christian Constant's restaurants (which all coincidentally were right near our hotel). After looking over the menus at Café Constant and Les Cocottes, we decided to try Café Constant (even though the idea of eating our food out of little cocottes sounded incredibly appealing to me too).
I went in to put our names on the list and met a girl from D.C. who is living in Paris and studying at Le Cordon Bleu. She told me she always takes out of town guests to Café Constant and loves it. Sold!
We waited about half an hour for a table -- not too bad for a Sunday evening when most restaurants in Paris seem to be closed. The restaurant looks really small from the outside, but once we were led upstairs, we realized there's more seating than we initially thought. We got a small table by the window. It was close quarters, but the women next to us were friendly and we kept checking out each others' food as it was delivered.
We started with bread... must have bread...
and wine... another must have. When in Paris, right? We opted for Sancerre, which I really enjoyed -- though it was a little dry for Jeff's tastes (he's more of a Riesling drinker).
My friend had raved about a pumpkin soup at Café Constant, and while I didn't see it on the menu, there was a pea soup that caught my eye. It typically comes with a prawn on top, but the waiter left it on the side for us so Jeff (who's allergic to shellfish) could also sample the soup.
The bowl arrived with an arrangement of asparagus, peas, mushrooms, and a dollop of whipped cream. Then the waiter poured a creamy broth over the veggies. I have to admit, I was expecting a bright green pea puree of a soup and this was an interesting, unexpected preparation. The creamy broth was amazingly flavorful and so nicely salted, the vegetables were soft and springy, and the dollop of whipped cream added a pleasant richness. (I didn't end up sharing any of it with Jeff -- way too good to share!)
For his entree, Jeff went with duck. I think we'd been talking about duck ever since we decided to go to Paris, so this was a necessity for the first night's dinner. His plate arrived with what we've learned is called duck parmentier, a pile of shredded duck confit covered with a thin layer of mashed potato. This one had mushrooms mixed in, and I found the mixture so tender and comfort-food-like.
On the other side of Jeff's plate was a duck leg with a wonderful sauce (though, sadly, it lacked crispy skin, the best part). On the side were roasted apples wrapped in a thin layer of what I think was phyllo dough. Some crunchy, salty waffles fries completed the dish.
I had the piglet chop (sounded to cute not to order it). My plate did indeed arrive with a tiny pork chop set atop a larger piece of pork and a wedge of potato pancake.
For dessert Jeff went with the apple tart with vanilla ice cream. He's a big fan of apple desserts. Me? Not so much. I go for chocolate.
So I ordered the profiteroles. If you come here and get nothing else, get these! So serious. The plate came out with two profiteroles nearly the size of my head, vanilla ice cream bursting out of them, and chocolate sauce covering them and the whole plate. The vanilla ice cream was the best that Jeff and I ever recall eating. I asked if they made it in house, but they don't. The choux pastry was so light, and the whole dessert was heavenly. We demolished it.
What is your favorite food city to travel to?