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Restaurant Les Papilles –
something yummy for your tastebuds

Paris Restaurant guide

Papilles means tastebuds in English, and if you like you meals meaty and copious, you won’t be disappointed here…

photos: JasonW

Les Papilles isn’t a new restaurant, but we only discovered it recently. Not far from our hotels and the Jardin du Luxembourg, it’s a sort of hybrid place, open for lunch and dinner, but also selling terrines and good wine. We decided to eat there one lunchtime because of their special menu (more about that later).

The restaurant is one long room with an old-style counter to the side at the front, and rather cosy looking table for five at the back and a downstairs room that is not really used except when there’s a rugby match on (there’s a TV screen down there). The boos looks like a rugbyman himself; Tall! Scary! But smiley 😉

The downstairs room and staircase are also used to house the rest of the wine. Bottles are everywhere, with the cheapest just under 30 euros and the most expensive at… 235 euros!


The ‘back from the market’ all-in menu at 31 euros (first course, main dish, cheese and dessert) was the main reason for our midday visit. Although there are cheaper menus around, not many have the quality and quantity on offer here. As the title implies, there’s no choice: you eat what looked good on the market that morning.

The rest of us chose dishes from the standard menu, mostly made up of salads or ‘tartines’. It’s very much apparent that you’re encouraged to go for the menu, but you can also pick anything from it that takes your fancy without buying into the whole four-course extravaganza…

To accompany your meal, you can choose any bottle from the racks (just add 7€ corking charge) or go for a glass of wine at just over 4€. Our choice went for an organic, non-filtered (you can check  out the producer’s site here: www.domainebreton.net).

The first courses were quick to arrive. Two out of our group of four had decided to try the cauliflower soup with a dollop of cream (and a hint of Espelette pepper), croutons, bits of ham (a sturdy French favourite), tiny chopped pieces of cauliflower and chives. The soup itself came served separately, ready to be poured onto the delicious-looking pile in the bowl.

It was a great success. Cauliflower is surprisingly tasty when made into soup, and the crunch of the croutons and vegetable pieces gave a great mix of textures. The servings were very large indeed. A great start!

Before long it was time for the main dishes. The market menu main dish was braised brisket of pork with white beans, carrots, mange-tout, new onions, thym and pesto sauce. It came served in a side dish ready to be composed on your plate. The presentation was excellent, a great mix of colours, and it didn’t disappoint.

The Tartine basquaise included strips of aubergine, chicken, preserved red peppers, a curry paste and – supposedly – a bowl of rocket salad. Unfortunately, there was no rocket that day, and a standard green salad had been supplied instead (although nobody told us of the change). This is a standard French dish, but it was well executed, with the preserving oils used for the vegetable lubricating the other ingredients.
The third dish was a tuna lomo. The lomo cut is the most tender part of the fish, and although we’d asked for it to be well done, many chefs think this is heresy, and ours was served rare (so we sent it back!). Apart from that, it was indeed very tender, and not dry as some tuna steaks can tend to be.
And the last main dish was a Scandinavian-style tartine. I suppose we should have know that in a restaurant serving southwestern specialities, the Nordic dish wasn’t going to be their strong point. With both smoked herring and smoke salmon, plus a large slab of bread, it was tough to chew. Once again, the rocket had been replaced with boring old salad. Bah!
So, our advice: stick to the meat!

Next up, the cheese from the fixed menu. This was supposed to be Fourme d’Ambert, a soft blue cheese, served with a wine-soaked prune. What arrived looked more like goat’s cheese with a tiny square of tapenade. After running out of rocket, it looked like they’d run out of the fourme d’ambert. Oh well…
Soon these tiny problems were to be forgotten. The desserts were served, and they were epic! The « pure Caribbean » chocolate cappuccino was amazing! Really creamy without being sickly. Our favourite!
Two of tried out the creamy mascaropone with caramelised apples and dried fruit ‘mendiant’ cake. Another success!And the last dessert was a ‘grandma style’ rice pudding with seasonal fruit (turned out to be apples again). Simply presented, this was also very well executed.Just time for a quick coffee before getting back to work!
To sum up, Les Papilles has an old-style décor, and good, solid, tasty food. It’s not the cheapest restaurant in town, but hardly expensive either, and there’s an obvious effort put into the presentation and cooking. Many of the dishes start with a French basic and give it a new twist, which is refreshing. However, if you’re vegetarian, you might consider eating somewhere else: you won’t find much on the menu that you can eat (or perhaps try going on a Friday, when you at least have a chance of happening upon a fish dish).

You can see all our photos of the restaurant here in the Flickr gallery, or by clicking play on the slideshow below, followed by the the four little arrow bottom right (to go into fullscreen mode).

Les Papilles is at 30 rue Gay-Lussac (here). Open for lunch and dinner every day except Sundays and Mondays.

Official site (in French): www.lespapillesparis.fr

1 comment for this entry:

  • Cherie City

    Wow, Les Papilles looks like a lovely place to eat! I like that it’s a cross between a brasserie and epicerie. Thanks for the recommendation, I hope to try it next time I’m in Paris.

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