Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Most of you won’t come to Paris in search of a nice Chinese or Italian meal, why would you? Of course you’ll be here to get at least one of these real French “gastronomic” meals that Unesco is protecting nowadays like an endangered species (or, as they say, a monument of the “intangible world heritage”). If so, you should definitely consider visiting “Chez Michel”, a classic resto-bistro close to Gare du Nord train station in a remote part of the 10th arrondissement not far from the ever dodgy boulevard Magenta.
It’s a Breton place, heavy on seafood and pork dishes, and not only renowned Parisian blogger Meg Zimbeck is a fan. She once called the decor here “grandmotherly” and she’s right: it is indeed an old-fashioned place, yet in the best possible sense, and the dishes are prepared with love and care, the main ingredients of good food.
Celebrating the Breton culture, you won’t be surprised to find nice chunks of cod, seabass and ray on the menu or – during the season – fleshy scallops, clams and oysters. But the chef here knows how to handle beef and veal as well, in fact he seems to know everything about decent braising, stewing and pot-roasting. “Chez Michel” is a place for slow food, they’re combining the whole range of seasonal goods here in order to prepare tasty, convincing, reassuring dishes. And the chef is a master of seasoning.
The set menu – three courses – costs 32 Euros (42 US$) which marks a good average for a decent meal in Paris nowadays. This standard menu offers a highly satisfying range of dishes, a very good choice indeed, but there’s a lot of highly tempting daily offers on a large chalkboard, too.
Here, the chef shows what French butchers and fishermen hide on their exotic backlists, like partridge or pheasant, or he displays exceptional fish products like “back of bass”. I ordered the latter last time I had lunch at “Chez Michel” and, unfortunately, it turned out to be just an ordinary bass fillet which I found sobering, to say the least. The supplements to pay for the daily offers are pretty hefty, they add 8 or up to 15, 20 Euros to your bill above the regular menu price – and that, I have to say, shouldn’t be used for just making money.
Anyway: the chef at “Chez Michel” really knows how to cook the French and Breton way. Every dish we had – including the false “back of bass” – was skillfully done, it was very, very good food, the desserts (a magnificent Paris-Brest, for instance) were equally brilliant. “Chez Michel” offers excellent cuisine based on products of the highest quality and everything is prepared – see above – with love. It’s not cheap, that’s true. But it isn’t shockingly expensive either. And, again, it’s very good, so don’t think twice.Chez Michel 10, rue de Belzunce 75010 Paris +33 (0)1 44 53 06 20 Open for lunch and dinner, closed on Saturdays and Sundays Métro: Gare du Nord or Poissonière