I rather naively thought that I'd be sufficiently well-fed in Paris simply by relying on my hunter's instincts and walking among the boulevards, picking an eatery at random and thus settling down to enjoy a superb meal. Thankfully, a friend in London lent me his copy of Lonely Planet to see me through.
One of the recommendations was Café de l’Epoque, though I forget where it was located. It was said to be very classic, though in the poor weather there wasn't much to enjoy about the outdoor ambience. Indoors though, it was very cosy, with its globe lights, salon windows and mirrors; probably what Lonely Planet was referring to as "classic".
I had a Croque Italien, which was basically toasted bread, topped with ham, melted cheese and tomatoes. Nothing extraordinarily fanciful, but it was suitable for a light brunch.
This was followed by a Chocolat Liegeois, a very decadent French dessert involving three scoops of dark chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce and masses of whipped cream on top. A fantastic treat for any chocoholic.
Dinner was originally supposed to be at L'Ardoise, a small restaurant just off the avenue des Champs-Elysées, but unfortunately they were completely full for the night and simply could not entertain us. As I had not made any backup plans, we were left having to wander the streets in search of food.
Eventually, we found our way to the somewhat touristy eating spots in the Notre Dame-St. Michel district, and settled into one of the nameless brasseries for a meal.
I rather foolishly ordered the mussles cooked in white wine and onions, simply because it seemed a fairly French thing to have, before I remembered that in a venue such as this, the freshness of the seafood was likely to be quite suspect. Sure enough, the mussels were not fresh at all, and no amount of wine could have changed that fact.
My main course took the form of a grilled entrecote steak, as I hadn't had a decent steak for about eight weeks. Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed by what was one of the thinnest steaks I'd ever seen, and a bunch of discoloured and distasteful green beans. Although the meat and potato gratin weren't actually that bad, I could not bring myself to eat the beans at all.
Dessert was a pair of profiteroles smothered in chocolate sauce. Some things you know are going to be bad just by looking at them, and the profiteroles were one such item. They looked, and tasted, like instant profiteroles which had been defrosted from the freezer, and tasted completely artificial.
I was greatly disappointed by dinner, and couldn't believe that food in Paris could be of such appalling standard. It wasn't even a complete tourist trap, as I noticed some French eating there as well, causing me to entertain serious doubts about the French reputation for gastronomy. Still, I only had myself to blame for not planning where to eat and leaving it up to chance, so I resolved that I would eat much better from the next day onwards.