I met Shirley and her friend yesterday for Starbucks in the Opera area. During our coffee date, I told them about how much my family loved the restaurant Chez Vicky, where we had eaten the evening before. Her friend told me that if I like Chez Vicky, I would love Gaspard. They were both shocked that I had never heard of it considering the fact that Josh and I eat out so often. The enthusiastically asserted that Gaspard is the best restaurant and that I must try it. The explained that the portions are large, the food is tasty, and the restaurant is always packed. Shirley suggested we make a date to go the following evening. However, she recommended that we not go until earliest 9pm since it would be bound to be busy.
Shirli, my brother Benjy, her brother, her brother’s girlfriend, Josh, and myself met for our dinner rendez vous at 9pm and the restaurant was in fact packed. The host told us that there would be a half hour wait, and we weren’t actually seated until 10pm. Thank goodness the weather was temperate tonight, since we waited around outside the restaurant. In all of the times I have gone out to eat in Paris, I have never had to wait this long for a table.
The restaurant had a very classy, yet modern and chic interior. It was very crowded with young people, mostly who looked like they were around our ages. Kosher people go out to eat much more frequently in Paris than they do back in the states. There are over 200 Kosher restaurants in Paris and a large proportion of them are packed even at 10pm every evening! Shirley says that it’s because the Jews have more money.
After Shirley and her friend’s raving reviews about Gaspard, I expected the menu to not resemble every other meat Kosher restaurant so much. However, the food was definitely very delicious! We started with a bottle of merlot, appetizers, and bottles of water. I mention the water bottles, because usually when you ask for a pitcher of water at a restaurant, they bring you a pitcher of tap water. This time, they brought us expensive bottles of purified water, so we just said nothing and went with it. Shirley and her brother shared Le foie gras poêlé, pommes caramélisées et ses toats (a fois gras appetizer with carmelized apples and toast), which I had no desire to taste, but they enjoyed thoroughly. Fois gras is one of those things that I think you just have to love if you are French and you are a disgrace if you don’t. Fois gras is on almost every French restaurant menu and you can even often find fois gras macaroons at patisseries!
Josh, Benjy and I shared Les pilons de poulet finement panés, sauce texane (fried chicken wings with texan bbq sauce). I don’t generally eat dark meat, but the wings were crispy and delicious, especially with the zesty dipping sauce.
For my main, I ordered the Salade thaïlandaise (salad with strips of grilled chicken, red and white cabbage, chinese noodles, and a sesame honey mustard sauce). The salad was a perfect mixture of sweet and salty flavors. The chicken was very well grilled and the honey mustard sauce was delectable! So much so, that I ordered an extra side of sauce to pour over my salad. The portion was generous and satisfying.
Benjy ordered roast chicken and rice. His dish came with a slightly pepper sauce marinade sauce on the side and a small salad. When Josh tasted Benjy’s rice, he said he regretted ordering his fries- I take that to mean that the rice was excellent.
Josh ordered the steak Tornados and french fries. The fries were very thick and potatoey (the way I like em). Josh thought his steak was just mediocre. It came with the same sauce that Benjy’s chicken came with. The sauce seemed to be much more appropriate as a steak sauce than a chicken sauce. Neither Benjy nor Josh liked the sauce at all. I thought it was a tad bland and was missing something. I think the chicken would have been much better had it been served with a sauce similar to the one that came with my salad.
We had a nice time, and it was definitely fun and refreshing to go out with a group of peers in Paris. There is often some language or cultural barrier in larger groups- one or two people don’t speak the same language and there is a clash in French and American senses of humor which always make room for a few awkward silences. Benjy tried cracking a few slightly corny jokes and Shirly wasn’t amused by any of them, which was pretty entertaining for me and Josh to watch! Now, Benjy is convinced that French people are too serious.
Overall, the food was definitely a thumbs up and the restaurant had a positive ambiance. However, I don’t fully understand why this restaurant is always so much busier than the others, since it is not entirely unique. I guess it’s just one of those places that became a trendy hang out for young Parisian Jews.