It’s a hazy Friday in Singapore and it looks like we’re going to have a rainy weekend up ahead which is why I decided to do a “Flashback Friday” post which I’ll try to do weekly to help me catch up on all the other restaurants I haven’t been able to write about.
Today’s post goes back to Paris on another dark gloomy November Friday when A and I went back to this Saint-Germain-des-Pres institution – Brasserie Lipp. The Lipp is a classic Alsatian brasserie opened in 1880 and has since been a classic on the busy boulevard. The art-deco interiors of yellow tiles, floral Belle Epoque ceramics and smoke-stained mirrors have been the same since 1926, and if those walls could talk, they would speak of presidents and politicians, writers and actors, starving artists and con artists and le gratin (upper crust) of Paris who have, at one time or another, made chez Lipp their local hangout.
When I used to live in Paris in the early nineties, Brasserie Lipp was a treat since I was on a student budget and meals there were usually had when the parents were visiting or with friends on expense accounts. Later on, after A and I met, Brasserie Lipp was where we’d go for lunch while we walked around our favorite Parisian arrondissement, always crossing our fingers that the white-haired manager would seat us in one of the coveted ground floor tables (VVIP’s usually get the front room), and not upstairs in restaurant Siberia. We arrived at the peak of lunch hour and were led to the crowded back room to a banquette (yes!) where we could sit side by side – always an issue because both A and I love the more comfortable banquette and always take dibs on who gets it first. Our cozy table afforded us a view of the full room for perfect people watching which is always half the fun.
The menu at Lipp is simple – it’s always been a single yellow cardboard with the food in one long list – oysters and caviar, hors d’oeuvres, plats du jour, specials listed in red, Friday plats du jour, an additional hand-written special, cheeses and desserts. The food is classic Alsatian brasserie fare, nothing fancy, so don’t expect gourmet cuisine. It’s just food done right or correct as the French say.
We started off with celeri remoulade (€9.50) – grated celery root tossed in a mustardy dressing and filets de harengs pomme a l’huile (€12.50) – A’s favorite of vinegary herring filets with boiled potatoes drizzled in olive oil – both classic brasserie starters which we shared. Before our next course was brought out, the professional white-jacketed waiter started to clear our starters when A asked if he could leave the unfinished celery on the table, a major French dining faux-pas, and the waiter was surprised but agreed. Our main dishes, my confit de cuisse de canard (€22.50) – duck leg confit with roast new potatoes and the Friday plat du jour for A of raie au beurre (€24) – skate wing sautéed in butter, were served soon after. We took our time with lunch, enjoying our meal amidst the noise of a bustling restaurant where everyone seemed to be having fun while the waiters were rushing around balancing trays and dishes through the crowded room. It was only when the place started to quiet down and the midday crowd left to go back to work, that we finally finished.
We couldn’t resist sharing a dessert and debated between the popular millefeuille or another favorite, the ile flottante (€9.50) and finally settled for the latter. Before the waiter cleared the plates, he asked with a smile if A wanted to have the rest of the celery with the dessert which showed that he wasn’t that serious and had a sense of humor after all. We all had a good laugh then polished off the large caramelized sugar-domed meringue floating in a bowlful of vanilla flavored custard cream (hence it’s floating island name). After our long leisurely lunch, we meandered the twenty blocks back from Saint-Germain-des-pres to the adjacent 7th arrondissement – just a couple of flâneurs taking our time to appreciate the beauty of Paris.
151 Blvd. Saint Germain 75006, Paris
*Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.