I already wrote two previous articles advising a few places to have a nice dinner or a nice lunch in Paris. Today I will mention three more. Yet, the difference this time is that they are on the outsirts of Paris. As you may know Paris is encircled by the Boulevard Périphérique. The gates of Paris are the access points to the city for pedestrians and other road user. They are also well known for being places of high gastronomy.
The Auberge Dab, Porte Maillot
Let’s start with a few words about the Auberge Dab at Porte Maillot. A warm welcome awaits when you open the door. Leather seats, wooden panelling and extensive bay windows: it’s a feast for the eyes, which goes nicely with the delicious food. Expect to pay around €50 for an excellent meal, not counting drinks. The house specialities are worth the trip: the seafood, especially the sole à la plancha, with or without the melted lemon butter (availability depending on deliveries); the pan-fried Saint-Jacques scallops perfectly paired with creamy, Provencal-style risotto; of the meat selection, the grilled beef rib steak and the marrow bone are excellent. As for sweets, the red berry millefeuille with raspberry coulis is a delight.
The pros: the large outdoor terrace which offers an alternative seating option to the restaurant’s two dining rooms, the valet service, and the “Business Club” menu, which offers a substantial meal for €39.
The cons: it is sometimes quite noisy, and table service can be a bit slow.
The Congrès, Porte d’Auteuil
Still in the 16th arrondissement the Congrès Auteuil stands at Porte d’Auteuil. Recently revamped to incorporate a touch more sophistication, this Porte d’Auteuil institution is considered one of Paris’s better brasseries. Housed in a pretty rotunda, it boasts lovely décor, with a black granite floor and a dining room in chocolate, black, vanilla and cream tones. The prices are a little more affordable than at the Auberge Dab (menus from €45, drinks not included) and the portions are hearty. A special mention for the quality of the shellfish, which makes for excellent seafood platters. The oysters are fresh and tasty whatever the season. As for meat, the beef tartare and the pan-seared beef are both excellent. For dessert, I recommend the rum baba.
The pros: the €34 menu, which includes an aperitif, half a bottle of Bordeaux and coffee, and the glass elevator which takes you to the first floor of the rotunda.
The cons: the table service can be a bit slow. It is also very busy, so make sure to book in advance.
La Cardinal, Porte de Saint Cloud
You can’t miss this giant brasserie when you’re passing through Porte de Saint Cloud. “A family restaurant with a contemporary and chic design”, the Cardinal is open every day from 7am to 1am. It’s a welcoming place that has something of the Aveyron about it, with its leather armchairs that are so delightful to lounge around in. If you prefer to be outside, there’s a large heated terrace in the winter, which is well-sheltered from the wind.
As for the cuisine, it is both excellent and original; the menu has a wide range for all tastes. To give you an example, on the Cardinal fixed menu (€30) the starters range from Marennes’ oysters to Thai mint chicken spring rolls. For the main course, you can choose between beef with pepper sauce or grilled Red Label salmon, and for dessert you have a wide variety of delightful ice creams and sorbets to choose from. My favourite dessert has got to be the rum baba (highly recommended). If you’re in the mood for seafood, the Ecaille menu has excellent oysters and a fine assortment of shellfish.
All the dishes are excellently seasoned. You can also enjoy a breakfast menu here (I mention it because it is unusual in France for breakfast to have its own menu). You don’t need to worry about parking because a valet parking service takes care of that for you. A special mention should be made for the service, which is classy without being starchy, welcoming and efficient. And if you’re a football fan, you might get lucky and see PSG players Blaise Matuidi, Maxwell or Lucas Digne because the Parc des Princes stadium is just round the corner. If rugby’s more your thing, the brasserie broadcasts the big matches on a big screen. However, make sure you book in advance on the evenings when there’s a sporting event.
Didier Moinel Delalande is a Director at Hotel Mathurin.