One of the good things about staying in a local neighborhood is that you can pretty much find anything nearby. Where we stayed, just off Cherche-Midi, in the 6th arrondissement is one such example. The technical school nearby makes lunchtime busy with lots of students hanging around in cafes and little restaurants. There's a fantastic boulangerie - nothing fancy but with extra buttery croissants and country bread. A tiny fruit stand with mounds of in-season cherries and fuzzy-skinned white peaches on display sits right smack in the middle of the road. There are also several pharmacies (typical in Paris), a hardware store, a sweet-smelling flower shop, a specialty coffee shop with a tiny counter to sample the coffees, several traiteurs (takeaway counters) from Chinese to sushi to Middle-Eastern. All this adds up making the neighborhood lively, full of character and not touristy.
On this trip, my mom and I walked all over the 6th and only took a taxi once to get to the 3rd arrondissement across the river. The whole week was spent exploring the area and trying new cafes, bistros and little restaurants in the quartier. One of these pleasant discoveries was Les Garcons.
Les Garcons is a tiny restaurant with a simple white awning over the entrance and a few tables set out outside on the sidewalk, a concession for those who want to lunch and smoke. The typical small restaurant format is present - a tiny bar, a daily changing blackboard menu, two waitstaff running around serving everyone and a long banquette in front of small tables for two squeezed together. We arrived at past noon one day just right before the lunch rush and were seated in a table near the entrance. After making our choices from the limited menu (3 starters, 7 main courses, 1 cheese plate and 3 desserts), the crowds started to arrive and in less than half an hour, the place was packed with several waiting at the bar for a table.
We skipped the starters and went straight to our main courses which was a good idea s the portions were huge. I had the tartare de boeuf Aquitaine (€13.50) and my mom chose the supreme de poulet roti (€13.80). My steak tartar was a mound of hand-chopped beef, topped with an egg yolk, drizzled with Worcestershire sauce and with a dollop of finely chopped capers, onions and cornichons which I was meant to mix and season on my own. Since I like my tartar spicy, I added some Tabasco, sinus-clearing Dijon mustard and lots of freshly-ground pepper to the mix. It also came with sauteed new potatoes and a small green salad. My mom's crisp roast chicken breast was served over penne tossed in a creamy spinach sauce. We dug into our simple but delicious food and listened to the conversations of the other clients nearby who in typical French fashion, were talking about the food on their plates. For dessert, we shared a Calin 0% avec fraise gariguettes (€6.80) - fromage frais topped with extra-sweet in-season strawberries. The food at Les Garcons is simple home-style cuisine at very reasonable prices (about €40 for two with a bottle of Badoit). The fact that it's packed with locals proves that sometimes, comfort food is all we crave.
79, rue du Cherche-Midi
Telephone: +33 1 45 49 08 59
*Open Mondays to Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight. Closed Sundays