Monday, March 2

Paris' Oldest Cafe (now an expansive restaurant) Le Procope is packed with flavor, good cheer and rich history to boot!

When I  traveled to Paris for design show
Maison & Objet this past January, I had my favorite meal at
Le Procope
13 rue de l'Ancienne Comedie 
75006 Paris
I love to sample traditional fare when traveling overseas. When in  Paris I crave dishes like coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, escargo, creme brulee, mussels moules, a good baguette with rich French butter, and let's not forget a delicious glass of full bodied French red wine.  This past January when I went to Paris to attend and write about the Maison & Objet design show, it was also a perfect time to splurge and learn a bit more about the finer aspects of French food, and share that experience with friends from home.   
three photographs via Raoul Dobremel

Friends Lisa McMahon and Melissa Mittag and I happened upon one of the most fabulous restaurants in Paris, and we had an amazing culinary experience, a happy accident.  We arrived by subway from the Maison & Objet show tired and hungry, then began walking around the quaint Saint Germain neighborhood near the boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the 6th district.  Looking in every nook and cranny for the perfect restaurant, we came upon Le Procope but since it was still quite early the restaurant was relatively empty.  The traditional French style decor greeted us, and we knew instantly it would be a fine dining experience.  The restaurant's design is clearly taken from the 17th & 18th centuries with regal wallpaper, red banquettes and historic art lining the walls.  Despite the sophisticated decor, the mood at the restaurant is warm and welcoming.  We arrived early enough to take advantage of the Prix Fixe menu and immediately ordered a bottle of fine Champagne.   
Little did we know our fondness for the restaurant put us in great historic company, and later we found out famous patrons as far back as Napoleon frequented Le Procope.  The walls of the restaurant are filled with framed art and descriptive history about the restaurant, and we loved reading about it all.  We learned even more from speaking to loyal patrons about how Italian Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli founded the restaurant in 1686, and back in the day it was frequented by many celebrities and diplomatic figures, and just to name a few; Napoleon, Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau.  Named the oldest cafĂ© in Paris, the restaurant was a regular for many famous dignitaries of society and politics going back in time.  You can feel it in the air, and yet everyone is in a splendid mood!  

both the label rouge burgundy snails (escargo) and the delicious duck foie gras plate were the best we had ever tasted. The escargot had the the most flavorful garlic butter sauce, which of course we dipped our delicious bread into immediately.
As the evening progressed it was clear by the busy lines forming to be seated, we had happened upon a Parisian gem.  We may have been the only Americans there but we were treated warmly by the wait staff, who even indulged us with some friendly tourist-like picture taking without a hint of snobbery.  Of all the evenings spent in Paris, this tops my favorite meal combined with a festive atmosphere.  The restaurant is known for their fresh and delicious seafood as well as the traditional French cuisine signature dishes that have been fawned over in the old style manner for generations.  

The Food: 
 The whole fish was flaky and delicious, the house favorite coq au vin divine, the boeuf was flavorful and tender,
 and all created daily by chef 
Bruno Menager.  
our trio of creme brulee, homemade sorbets and tarte tatin were 
the perfect assortment of French desserts together in one place, 
hand's down! 
 I still think about that perfect French meal, and will certainly head back to Le Procope next time I am in Paris, 
and I hope you will too!
Happy Nesting 
XO Tamara