Our last night in Paris was incredibly bittersweet. We’d been away from home almost two weeks and were ready to stop living out of suitcases, but we’d really started to get the hang of Paris in the last few days. Getting around was easy, we were comfortable off the beaten path, and the food… We finally found the food everyone raves about when talking about Paris.
Cécile, the amazing concierge at the W Paris Opéra, arranged a reservation for us at Pamela Popo in the Marais. Our reservation was for 8:30, which is still early by French standards, so we were only the second table to be seated. We started out on a bit of an awkward note.
The downstairs looks like a bar and there’s a sign that says the restaurant is upstairs. No one was there when we first walked in, so I followed the sign and started up the stairs. At that point, a hostess very curtly stopped me and demanded to know what I was doing. She caught me off guard and I stumbled through telling her we had a reservation. I was oddly embarrassed, but really don’t think she meant to be rude.
Visually, the upstairs couldn’t have been more different from the bar downstairs. It wasn’t like walking into a restaurant. It was more like walking into someone’s incredibly warm and inviting home. It reminded us remarkably of Marjorie.
I could tell right away it was in my best interest to be a bit braver with my French. Our server spoke some English, but I didn’t want to make her use it and we were definitely off the tourist path. The amuse bouche arrived at the table quickly. One look and I knew I’d be eating both mine and B’s. Not because it looked that good (though it did), but it was a chilled pea soup. Under the right circumstances, he can be coerced into a little broccoli or green beans, but peas? Never. His loss. It was delicious.
For a starter, we chose the terrine de foie gras maison permier choix avec gelée de fruits rouges (foie gras terrine with red fruit jelly). There are no words for it except wow. The flavor combination of the rich, salty foie gras with the bright, slightly tart fruit couldn’t have been more perfect. It was truly the perfect taste of Paris.
For our entrées, B selected the quasi de veau avec purée et girolles (veal rump with mashed potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms). I chose the médallion d’agneau avec caviar et tranches grillé d’aubergine (lamb medallion with caviar and sliced grilled eggplant).
B had veal and mashed potatoes (though not together) a couple of times on the trip. Nothing, though, even came close to touching this. I probably could have easily eaten my meal and B’s… or, at the very least, his potatoes. I settled for a bite of each.
I don’t always like lamb. It’s so easy to get wrong and I really don’t usually like eggplant. I was starting to trust the Pamela Popo team, though, and decided to take a chance. After all, who knows how long it will be until our next visit? This was a great decision. Everything just worked so well together and I had no idea that eggplant could taste like that.
For dessert, we shared two. The tartelette tiède au chocolat caramel à fleur de sel, noisettes, et copeaux de chocolat blanc (tart warm caramel chocolate fleur de sel, hazelnut, and white chocolate shavings) as well as this beautiful chocolate creation that is sadly no longer on their menu.
It was a truly outstanding meal. We were there 3 hours, but it flew by. The atmosphere was perfectly cozy and comfortable, the energy was lively and energizing and distinctly Parisian. We didn’t hear a word of English (or any language other than French, for that matter). I felt more comfortable than I’d been the entire trip. That was when the slight sadness set in. It was almost time to go home. Paris was wonderful from beginning to end, but Pamela Popo just felt like us. This came just as the rest of the city was taking on that same feeling. Before we left for Paris, B was excited, but he said on more than one occasion that the trip was a great opportunity to check Paris off our list. By the time we left, we were planning our next visit. So… Merci, Paris, pour un voyage vraiment memborable. Jusqu’à la prochaine fois.