The sixth is the center of our Parisian universe.  Though we take up just a tiny sliver of its 0.8 square mile (about 300 square feet to be exact), we have spent a large chunk of our dining hours within its boundaries, everywhere from hole-in-the-wall joints to nicer sit-down restaurants to the well-frequented Monoprix supermarket for a meal back at home.  There remain many known and unknown gems to be sampled but we have no doubt that we will get through most of them, or fail trying.  After all, we love eating as much as we love living where we live.
 
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Five Baguettes
   
Au Pied de Fouet
3, rue Saint-Benoît
Closed Sundays
01.42.96.59.10
M° Saint-Germain-des-Prés

 
Euro - 9 to 16
What to do when you find yourself hungry in the early evening hours on a Monday?  It was certainly too early to head out for dinner so we filled the time instead by flipping through one of the Paris books that Nez’s dad sent us to ensure that we make the most of our stay here.  Today, it was Alexander Lobrano’s “Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 102 Best Restaurants.”  We enjoyed reading aloud his long, detailed, and yes, authoritative, accounts of intriguing dining experiences but time and time again whenever we reached the end of a promising “profile” we would encounter a price scale of too many dollar signs indicating that we should move on to another.  Eventually, we found among the indices in the back of the book 11 profiles listed under the heading “Inexpensive ($)” (less than 30€).  And just like that we discovered our dinner destination for the night.
 
 
 
 
 
  Now, this is a salad:  The salade pomme de terre et oeuf dur mayonnaise (3€).
 
 

 
 
 
We were the first diners to arrive, not only because the location was a short walk from our apartment but because we were simply too famish and could not wait a second over 7 P.M. to start eating.  For our early arrival, we were rewarded with a table by the front window, the best seats in the house without a doubt.  We instantly fell in love with the decor that gave the small dining room a relaxed and inviting warmth.  We also noted quickly that the kitchen looked not much bigger than our tiny one.  When the menu arrived, we could not believe our eyes when we glanced from the food items to their corresponding prices.  Really, when was the last time we saw appetizers for 3€ at a nice sit-down place?
 
 
 
 
 
  Cutting to the chase:  It is all about the oeuf dur mayonnaise (3€), three halves of boiled eggs and a glob of sauce.
 
 
 
 
 
For his first course, Riot got the oeuf dur mayonnaise (3€), three halves of just-right boiled egg under a thick coat of a secret sauce that surely involved more than just plain old mayo.  It was a delicious and simple combination, and not just because we were hungry.  Nez’s entrée was a healthier (health is used in relative terms here) expansion of Riot’s, a salade pomme de terre et oeuf dur mayonnaise (3€).  Nez loved her fresh salad.

The very nice waitress had enthusiastically recommended the Côtes du Rhône from Domaine de Servans and we couldn’t resist getting a bottle.  While sipping on this excellent wine and waiting for our plats, Riot glanced up at the chalkboard to our right and was quietly startled by what he thought was the price for our bottle.  There, in the customary, illegible French cursive:  “Domaine de Servans … 200€.”  Two hundred?  Really?  Maybe this was how they made up for the low prices of the food.  Riot steadied himself and looked at the next line:  four euros something for a glass, eight something for half a bottle, etc.  Now, it didn’t make sense at all.  It appeared to be cheaper to buy by the glass when instead we had a bottle on our table.  Already making peace with paying a premium for something this worthwhile, Riot strained his eyes to look again in the dark light and he was relieved to find that what he thought read “200€” was in fact “2006.”  The bottle was had for only 16€.  Phew!
 
 
 
 
 
  A simply delectable daily special:  The filet de dorade à la Meridional (11.50€).
 
 
 
 
 
By then, the main courses had arrived from the kitchen.  Nez’s confit de canard maison (10.70€), with its visibly crispy skin, came with a slather of mashed potato.  The duck proved very delicious and the skin, Riot loves fried skins, tasted as good as it looked.  The mashed potato was a star in its own right, much to Nez’s delight.  We read on the restaurant’s website later that “la purée maison vous rappellera des souvenirs d’enfant.”  (“The home-made mashed-potatoes will bring back your childhood memories.”)  This description was not far off the mark for Nez; Riot, who has no childhood memories of mashed potato to speak of, agreed in essence.  Riot ordered the daily special of filet de dorade à la Meridional (11.50€).  A bare, steamed slice of sea bream resting on top of a concoction of onions and a sauce that carried subtle hints of the Far East.  The delicious streak continued.
 
 
 
 
 
  There is a reason why Nez orders this every time:  The confit de canard maison (10.70€).
 
 
 
 
 
We wrapped up the long dinner with well-made desserts in the form of tarte tartin (3€) and crème caramel (3€).  By then, not only were we no longer hungry, we were supremely satisfied.  The restaurant had filled up to the brim; our table that seats four had acquired its other two diners.  We sat elbow to elbow but such absence of personal space only enhanced the magic of this place whose motto (les maîtres mots) - simplicité, spontanéité et qualité! - was right on the mark.  We could not wait to return when Nez’s mom visits.
 
 
 
 
 
 
  To complete an excellent meal:  The tarte tartin (3€).
 
 
 
 
 
  Or, another classic choice:  The crème caramel (3€).
 
 
 
 
On yet another night, when playing out the various dining options in our heads again led nowhere, we realized that we had both wanted to return here without even knowing it.  (Nez, however, revealed later that she had been thinking of the delicious duck dish every day at work.)  We came after nine armed with the comfort of knowing that they did not take reservations here and thus, the worse that could happen was a lengthy wait in the cold.  The wait was short, in the cold that only reinvigorated us, as the waiter had promised: “dix minutes, maximum.

All of the tables downstairs were full, so we went upstairs to share a table.  Nez stuck with the tried-and-true formula while Riot branched out to get the potage “maison” (4€) and noix d’entrecôte (10.70€).  The simple potato-based soup was just the right transition from the cold exterior to a warm dining room; the steak a repository of subtle flavors.  Another great meal was wrapped up with a new dessert selection:  pudding “Diplomate,” (3€) whose crème anglaise was simply amazing.

Where else?  45, rue de Babylone (7e) (01.47.05.12.27)  •  96, rue Oberkampf (11e) (01.48.06.46.98).
 
 
 
 
 
  Subtlety is the taste:  The noix d’entrecôte (10.70€).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  An excellent transition from the cold:  The potage “maison” (4€).
 
 
 
 
 
  Riot would be happy just having the crème anglaise:  The pudding “Diplomate”(4.50€).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  A rare near-miss pollock dish:  The filet de lieu noir au beurre blanc (11.90€) could get a bit too creamy at the bottom with all the vegetable and butter.
 
 
 
 
 
  An excellent rendition of the classic:  The soupe l’oignon et ses croutons (4€) with the croutons smartly left on the side.
 
 
 
 
 
  Get over the fact that “tête” is head:  The pâté de tête persillée “maison” (3.90€) is a real treat and the accompanying creamy sauce is great with bread.
 
 
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