I had the total French experience the other day for lunch. I went into a restaurant, ordered a random item from the menu (since there were no English translations) and ended up with a bowl full of offal.
I went to Montparnasse in the morning to visit Le Cordon Bleu to find out the status of my enrollment for the bread making course this weekend, only to find out that the school was closed (I seriously hate them now) and on the way back, I stopped by a restaurant, Chez Papa, to grab some quick lunch. Chez Papa has been one of the places that I was dying to visit for a while, and although this small eatery is located right in front of the Cimetiere Montparnasse (cemeteries) in the 14th Arrondissement and a bit spooky, I trusted my handy dandy guide book to take me to a cozy and delicious Basque-inspired dishes served up by Papa.
When I arrived to the restaurant around noon, the place was pretty much empty but once I was seated and started looking at the menu, the crowd began to pour in. And I mean POUR IN! By the time I got my food, the place was completely full, with absolutely no empty seats! This was in the matter of mere 10 minutes! I got really lucky arriving when I did.
Most of the tables here were a communal table, very much like school cafeteria, where strangers share space and, at times, conversation. Such seating is not atypical in Paris, perhaps due to small space, and you will find yourself sitting next to strangers from all walks of life in many establishments. Today, at Chez Papa, I sat next to a mother, a father, a grandmother, and a little girl on my left and a young couple (perhaps on their third date) on my right. The little girl and I often exchanged smiles, and she looked at me curiously as I devoured cow livers and other organs.
I ordered something called “Super Papa,” which was a generous bowl of cow livers and bacon, on a bed of buttercup lettuce and potato gratin, with crostini with melted goat cheese on top. It had another kind of offal in the pile but wasn’t sure what they were. I am thinking it was either a lining of some sort since it was a little chewy. Since I had no idea what the heck all the dishes were in the menu, I went for a signature dish that had the restaurant’s name on it. I was delighted to find that the dish was full of garlic and other flavorful aromatics and while I was a little hesitant at first at the amount of offal that was piled in a bowl, I was a fan after one bite. I didn’t care that I was being a Hannibal Lector … all I needed was a nice glass of Chianti to wash those organs down!
As you can see, Chez Papa is probably not for the faintest of culinary hearts, as I’m sure many will find the food served to be Fear Factor material, but if you like a hearty bowl of French comfort food, give Papa a shot! You won’t be disappointed. Just look for the portrait of Papa!
6 Rue Gassendi
Metro: Gaite. It’s right across from the Cimetiere Montparnasse entrance.