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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Baguettes_3
   
Léon de Bruxelles
131, boulevard Saint-Germain
01.43.26.45.95
M° Mabillon

 
Euro - 9 to 16
We were wandering aimlessly in our brand new neighborhood (our bags had been brought with tremendous efforts to the apartment on rue des Canettes not more than an hour prior) when Tam exclaimed:  “Moules et frites, let’s eat there!”  She had noticed the images of the black bivalves sitting attractively in a pot at a place that had only previously attracted our attention because its name reminded us of someone who figures largely in our circle.

Before this renewed encounter, we had seen the many ads for Léon de Bruxelles in the métro.  Indeed, we had on more than one occasion thought to ourselves, after seeing the ads, “who in their right mind would eat something so unappetizing.”  (We love moules; it’s just that the photos of the mussels in those ads do not make one’s stomach say, “Yum, I want some.”)  While its ad campaign might have failed (at least with us), the food it serves succeeds in making us converts.  We’ll even get beyond the fact that it is a chain restaurant.
 
 
 
 
 
  Quite simply delicious:  Les moules “tout simplement”! (11.30€) served with unlimited fries.
 
 

 
 
 
The portions are huge here (even though we saw a few kids ordering their own adult-size portions – what does that do to our generalization that the French consume smaller portions?).  We started the meal with deux croquettes au fromage “vieux Bruges” (5.90€).  Two of these breaded cheese pieces were enough to whet our appetite.  Surprisingly, the detectable shrimp (or is it fish) scent in these little things made them all the more tasty.  However, they could prove to be much if consumed in large numbers.  For the main course, we shared les moules “tout simplement”! (11.30€) served in a pot (en cocotte) with celery and shallot and les moules aux fruits de la mer served à la plancha (17.40€).  The simply prepared mussels were steamy hot and juicy, their sizes just right and the broth just slightly understated to not overwhelm the main actors.  Their counterpart in the pan had a stronger flavor as a result of being combined with shrimp, calamari, tomato, garlic, and basil over a fire.  We like the contrast between the two and were glad we had gone in different directions.  The moules’ partner in name, les frites, was unlimited (à volonté) but we tried hard not to gorge on them.  There was still the matter of the delectable broth and sauce for which one needed to soaked up with an inordinate amount of bread, also limitless.
 
 
 
 
 
  From the grill:  Les moules aux fruits de la mer à la plancha (17.40€) is packed with strong flavors..
 
 
 
 
 
When another friend of ours, Bob, came to town we took him here despite his initial hesitance at the mention of mussels.  On that visit, we branched out to les moules au curry Madras (15.70€), which while good made us realize that sometimes food is better served tout simplement.  Bob, it should be noted, quickly overcame his initial unease with the first bite of one of these fresh mussels flown in daily (as far as we could discern from the looping video playing on one of the large flat screen TVs on the wall that remind everyone that this is still a chain restaurant and there is branding to be done).  We’re glad you like it, Bob.  And Tam, thanks for the keen eyes.

Where else?  8 other locations throughout Paris.  (See website.)
 
 
 
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