Sunday tends to be a rather quiet day in Paris and today was no exception except at the Comptoir du Relais at the Carrefour de Odeon in St. Germain des Pres. Le Comptoir du Relais is the restaurant of the Hotel Relais St. Germain and it is unusual in that it does not accept reservations so it is first come first served. I arrived just a few minutes before noon today and got a nice little table right in the middle of the action. Now I had read several reviews of Le Comptoir and one person complained about a very small table with people passing by all of the time. Well that was my table today and I found it perfect to observe my fellow diners, the wait staff in action and in a very few minutes the attempts of many to secure a table only to be told by about 12:30 that the restaurant was full and that they could wait in the rapidly increasing line already awaiting tables. Sunday dawned cloudy and with light rain in Paris but the restaurant did provide a large umbrella to keep at least some of the waiting line dry although the smart people, your truly included brought their own umbrellas. A second complaint that I had read was that the menus were only in French (true) and that the wait staff would not assist with translations for English speakers (definitely not true) as I heard many of my obvious US compatriots being very politely assisted by the staff. It always surprises me. although by this time it shouldn’t, that people come to France and expect everyone to speak English as if everyone in the USA speaks French and the menus in US restaurants are in French!!! Definitely not! After many years of coming to France my French is now good enough that I am occasionally taken for a Frenchman which makes me quite happy. I still miss about 75% of what is spoken to me but I am able to make my wishes known and easily understood pretty much everywhere in France,
Well than, how about the food?? Top notch bistro food, nothing more, nothing less. My escargot were as tender as can be and the garlic. pesto. butter sauce was perfect; all enhanced by a crisp glass of Bandol Rose’. For my main dish I picked the Daube de Boeuf which is the French version of beef stew and in this case (see photos) with carrots, onions, elbow pasta and a superbly flavored deep brown sauce. A glass of Bordeaux red made the perfect combination of food and wine. For dessert vanilla ice cream, an unusual but delightfully flavored cream basil sauce and fresh strawberries and raspberries. To my mind a perfect Sunday bistro lunch in Paris! I have only described the dishes that I myself ate but I noticed a variety of dishes of meats, sea food, salads, etc. being eaten by what appeared to be delightfully satisfied other diners. I heard no grumbling and I heard no complaints made to the staff either. I always find it interesting to read reviews and then to make my own assessment and compare to what has been written by others. I have learned to take other people’s reviews with a grain of salt unless they are universally laudatory or universally negative.
A post-prandial sroll along rue du Seine led me to, surprise, surprise, La Seine! In keeping with the typical Sunday in Paris the streets and the quais along the Seine were rather quiet today and the overcast weather probably contributed to the calm. Paris is so full of art that just to stroll along keeping ones eyes open reveals interesting artistic finds and one doesn’t have to go into any museum to see them. My photos will show just a few of the lovely and provocative objects d’art that I encountered today. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did. Paris waits for you and do not be frightened by fears of terrorists in Paris. The threat is no greater here than anywhere else in the world. We cannot let terrorism defeat us by making us afraid of each other simply because our skin is of a different color or we speak a different language or practice another religion. We are and must be better than that.