After I settled in the hotel room and took a few minutes of rest, I strolled out to the streets of Paris to do some window shopping before dinner. It was still raining outside and the neighborhood was less lively than I remembered. I learned later that many of the restaurants and shops are closed on a Monday, which explained why the streets were a little calmer than before. Also, it was around 7:00 p.m. which was still considered early for Parisians. Many places actually don’t open until 8:00 p.m. for dinner.
After walking around aimlessly for about an hour, I spotted an adorable bistro that looked friendly enough for a solo diner like me. Dining alone has not been an issue for me for a quite some time (although it used to be my biggest fear in life before I tacked it with my previous European trip) but it still takes a bit of courage to go in to an eating establishment by myself. It’s not that I care about what other people think about me eating alone but it’s still something. I always check out the atmosphere to make sure that I would feel comfortable dining there.
Le Mondrian, located on busy Boulevard St. Germain, is a type of French bistro that you would see in movies, with cozy outdoor patios and all. It is so cozy and lovely, that I simply had to go in. I also saw many solo diners inside so I knew that I would feel at home here. Unlike the restaurants in the states, it looks like you can seat yourself anywhere in Paris, so I took the small round table that faced the window in the back. After watching people walk by, I realized that this was the exact same restaurant that my then-travel partner Briana and I had our first meal in Paris back in 2004. And coincidently, I had ordered the exact same thing – Salad Nicoise with a glass of red wine. No wonder this place felt very familiar. I guess the more things change, the more stay the same.
It was nice to return to one of the first places that started my addiction to this salad, piled with greens, haricots verts (a fancy term for those thin green beans), tuna, boiled potatoes, black olives, tomatoes, boiled eggs, and most importantly, pickled anchovies, served with vinaigrette dressing. My first encounter with the salad was in the South France, in Nice (where it originated, hence the name), and I had tried Salad Nicoise at almost every restaurant I visited in Paris and in the states ever since. And I intend to do it again on this leg of the trip — a quest to find the best Salad Nicoise in the world. 🙂
The Salad Nicoise at Le Mondrian was good but not anything special, just as I remembered. The best part, however, was the anchovies, which was very, very vinegary – exactly the way I like it! It actually reminded me of well-marinated saba (mackerel) at a sushi restaurant. I thought the dressing was more on the bland side (and I wanted more of it) and I was a little disappointed that it came with no boiled potatoes or olives, but all in all, it was a great way to start my Salad Nicoise adventure.
On the way home, I stopped by a crepe stand in front of the Odeon Metro station and treated myself to a Nutella crepe for dessert. Of course, this was after I stopped by Gerard Mulot patisseries, conveniently located across from my hotel, to pick up several macarons. If you didn’t know, in addition to Salad Nicoise, I’m on a mission to find the world’s best maracon as well. 🙂
148 Boulevard St Germain, 75006 Paris
Metro: Mabillon or Odeon