Friday, August 13, 2010

Eating in Paris: Polidor

Paris is full of very chic, very fashionable, very crowded restaurants doing all kinds of modern things with food for a very discriminating clientele. I stay away from those.

I unabashedly admit that when I am in Paris I want to overdose on the atmosphere I know from the old Hollywood movies. Think "The Last Time I Saw Paris" or "An American in Paris."

Give me a cluttered, cozy old cafe or bistro serving stick to your ribs French classics on porcelain dinner wear. I want croque monsieur dripping with bechamel sauce or onion soup gratinee with a cap of bubbly, melted cheese, or steak, roast chicken or moules with piles of golden pommes frites or a heap of homemade mashed potatoes.

I want something like Cremerie Restaurant Polidor.

Polidor's cozy interior looks like a Hollywood movie set. A window filled with greenery. Yellowed lace curtains. Mottled mirrors with wine lists scrawled on them. Chalkboards promoting the daily specials. Tarnished brass and silver. Crowded noisy bench tables with communal pots of salt and mustard. Everyone seems to be having a wonderful time.
When I ate there in Spring 2007, cigarette smoke still swirled about in an atmospheric cloud. That's changed now since the smoking ban, but everything else is still the same.

While the atmosphere here is so Parisian as to almost appear manufactured, Polidor's patina is genuine. This place has been around over 100 years. And though Polidor is a tourist guide staple and has been featured on Rachel Ray's "40 dollars a Day" show in the U.S., the prevailing language here is still reassuringly French (although the menu is written in many languages).

On my visit, I was disappointed that they didn't have pumpkin soup, which I hear is a house specialty, but the bean soup was hearty and tasty.

The bouef bourguignon stock on the other hand was watery, the meat a little tough -- but then that's bouef bourguignon pretty much wherever you go.

The tartes here are homemade. I wavered between the lemon and chocolate before going with the citron. Delicious
The fixed formula menu is a good value as is the house wine.
The restroom facilities are, ummm, interesting.
A gourmet experience? Hardly, but but if you want to experience a weathered French bistro as you always imagined it would be right in the heart of Paris (the popular 6th arrondisement), Polidor is it.

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