"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Le Petit Célestin Bistro -- Restaurant Review

12 Quai des Célestins
75004 Paris 
Metro: M#1 Saint Paul or  M#7 Sully - Morland
web: http://www.lepetitcelestin.fr/
Open: 7-days a week
M-F -- 8 am to 2 am
Sunday -- 10 am to 2 am

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
3.00 - Star...............................................................€€........................................................... 2 - Bell

It's a pretty well known fact that it's almost impossible to find a good restaurant open on a Sunday and oftentimes Mondays. Many have to chance it at tourist areas, which are just basically bistros that rewarm pre-made food.  Imagine my excitement when a friend suggested we eat at this tiny bistro in the 4eme in the Marais and right across the street from Ile St. Louis not only on a Sunday, and talk about LOCATION!.  It's also it's open 7-days a week, unheard of in Paris!?!

We went for lunch, it was a warm sunny day. We were the first ones to arrive. Although normally I like eating 'al fresco' it was a bit too warm and sunny for me so we chose to eat inside, perfect, because we got the shade, but also since the windows retracted all the way, we got great outdoor ambiance without the sun beating down on us.

It's a cute, small restaurant and I was particularly surprised to see how small the kitchen is. Well this is Paris and it's amazing what chefs can do in a little space.

We perused the menu, they had their 'suggestions of the day', which wasn't very exciting to me so two of us ordered from the regular menu while one person ordered from the 'suggestions of the day.' 

First we got a delicious amuse bouche of a sweet pea purée; it was quite good and refreshing. And, I had a glass of their house chardonnay, which was pretty crisp, but I liked it. 


I had the "Fond d'artichaut œuf poché crème pleurote" (Artichoke heart poached with egg cream oyster sauce), I have to say this was my favorite dish. The artichoke heart was enormous and I'm a sucker for poached eggs on anything. It was surrounded with wonderful mushrooms and julienne greens. The cream just added to the richness of the dish. I loved this dish!

One person had the Boite de sardine millésimé et beurre salé (Classic sardine and salted butter). Now, this entrée I thought was a bit strange. It's literally an open can of sardines with some butter. Some might say it's whimsical and playful, I say, I could've done it at home. So, even though this dish was good, especially with the butter, this got a thumbs down for me. 

Lastly, one person got the Poêle de girolles, ail et persil (Pan sautéed mushrooms, garlic and parsley). Our friend liked this dish, and I have to say it was very good. The mushrooms tasted like mushrooms and some of them were actually a little crispy, which added texture to it. It was a hit. 

One person had the suggestion of the day, which was Salade de tomates anciennes vieux balsamique (Heirloom tomato salad with aged balsamic vinegar). OK, this to me was more of an entrée (appetizer) than a plat (main). Granted it was a large dish and it was good, but tomatoes with balsamic vinegar does not a meal make!  

Two of us had the Gambas rôties brunoise de légumes, duxelle de pleurote  (Roasted prawns with vegetables, oyster mushroom sauce).  Although the surrounding starch was creamy, it did have little bit of the characteristic wine reduction bitterness, but I liked this dish. The shrimps were tasty, and the rocket offered some green and freshness to this dish. I only have one wish, I wished they had not removed the shrimp heads. I think this dish would've been perfect had they not chopped it off. 

As usual I had the cheese plate. It was a combination of comté and brie de Meaux cheese. No complaints, the cheeses were excellent. 

Two shared the Tarte tartin (Apple tart) served warm and with a rich crème fraiche. The tart alone tasted ordinary, but with the added crème fraiche it was a delicious dish. 

This is on my list of places to go when everything else is closed, plus it's in a great location. A little tip, you need to really peruse the menu and understand what you're getting. There were hits (artichoke entrée) and misses (sardines). Now that I understand the menu a little better I know what to order. Although the prices for the meals are on par with other bistros in this class, what brings the prices up are the wines. For 3 of us we paid 188€, which is pretty expensive, but granted we had a pastis, a glass of chardonnay, a bottle of Sauvignon blanc, 2-pichets of Bordeaux and coffee. Their wines are a little more on the pricey side, so if you're on a budget you can trim the price down by ordering their house wines.

They serve good wholesome French bistro food. Would I go back? Absolutely, especially on the off days when other restaurants are closed. 

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