Au Petit Marguery, Paris

It was easy, after our last experience there, to decide that we wouldn't go back to Benoit for Sunday night dinner. And somehow, while I've found a couple of Chinese restaurants that are fine (for Paris), and seem to say Sunday night, their calendar is French.  It was not so easy to find a replacement. Finally, instead of having Sunday lunch at Au Petit Marguéry, we planned to have dinner there. It's an institution, the brothers who owned it forever sold it a few years ago and the new owners swore they would keep it as it was. They sort of did. During game season, certain animals no longer appear on the menu. The owner said it was for reasons of insurance. No, that doesn't make sense to me, either, although I had a brief vision of former Vice President Cheney shooting his lawyer. Wonder if professional liability insurance would cover that? Anyway, also gone was a beloved dessert, because it could only be made with uncooked egg yolks. The appetizer sampler of 5 terrines became 4, then 3.  The frou-frou Belle Epoque decor was cleaned up and simplified, or maybe the walls were just washed. The space next door became available, and the owners opened a little snack-and-carry-out place, which is becoming a bistrot in its own right. Sunday lunchtime is still bustling with French families, but to my shock, Sunday evening there were still tables available when we arrived.

Our Sunday started as a clear,  bright day, the kind that makes you want to go walking. Our plan for lunch was to see if the new bistro opened in the 5th Arrondissement by the chef of the fine restaurant at the Meurice, lived up to its credentials. We loved his food at the Meurice, in fact on one trip not so long ago we loved it so much that we cancelled our other reservation for the following night and went back to the Meurice for exactly the same delicious dinner. Every dish was an achievement. So we thought that if the same sense of perfectionism was behind the same guy's bistro, what could be bad? Well, nothing, but frankly, nothing stood out either. I liked the navarin of lamb, didn't love it. We didn't bother with dessert/coffee.

Sunday's plan then called for a long, leisurely after-lunch stroll on the left bank, winding up at Au Petit Marguéry. We took a quick break at the ancient Roman arena - people just come to sit and bask, or sit and read, and at the same time feel virtuous about doing something that isn't lazy because it's classical.

After about an hour of walking, the weather turned gray, damp and chilly. So much for leisurely strolling.  We decided to return to our hotel for warmer clothes and then decided we needed to rest up for dinner, since there are a lot of subway stairs on the way to Au Petit Marguéry.
We got there hungry, and jumped right in. I started with white asparagus with mousseline sauce, a little early in the season but delicious anyway. My main course was breast of duck with honey and thyme sauce (thoughts of the Roman arena?), and then! the Grand Marnier soufflé. A classic. But you knew that. Times are tough, and the restaurant is not too old-fashioned to have a web site and an email newsletter. Shortly before we left, the newsletter arrived, with of all things a coupon for one free Grand Marnier soufflé, good on weekends. Times are tough, indeed, but the soufflé was tender, airy and float-y.


  1. I need to learn not to read your posts right before dinner. I'm famished now and off to pickup something satisfying, although not *quite* to this extent. Grand Marnier soufflé - in my dreams!

  2. That souffle looks delicious!

  3. Hello:
    Do we just detect a trifle [no pun intended] disappointment in the whole experience? And not only 'tough' but also potentially annoying where the late arrival, via the newsletter, of the voucher is concerned!!

  4. hi, Jane and Lance, lunch was so-so, but dinner didn't disappoint, and since the voucher (an unconsidered trifle?) arrived by email, we printed it out at the hotel and it added a little extra sweetness to the soufflé. Our Paris Sundays have fallen into a pattern, and now that our former dinner stand-by, Benoit, has been "dumbed down," we are adjusting, albeit clumsily.

  5. That's a very civilised way to spend a Sunday.

  6. Hi, Tabitha, we've always thought so.


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