Leaving aside Versailles, where the big boys are currently playing with Gordon Ramsey at the Trianon Palace or opting for better food at 1/6th the price at L’Angelique, there are other interesting developments taking place beyond the city limits.
Take, for instance, Aulnay Sour Bois – Aulnay what? Wait a minute, that’s the place you whiz by as you’re bypassing all those grubby stops on the RER B going directly to the Gare du Nord from Roissy Charles de Gaulle no?. Yah, what’s there? A one star Michelin? No.
But yes, my friends, here in the unlikeliest of little towns, not far from the land of burning cars and throwing rocks, is an actual auberge that has earned a star. Why? How do I know, but it did and it deserves it.
My pal Atar, with nothing better to do apparently, than flip through the Environs of Paris section of the Michelin Red Guide came across almost the only place we’d never been to (my heart still belongs to the Table des Blot and Les Magnolias, but that’s another story.) Or is it?
In fact it isn’t, because Colette, she of the “I’m a woman and I’m not competitive” school, sat down and made a list of every one star place in the Environs of Paris and by George, we had indeed been to almost all of them with the exception of the Belle Epoque in Chateaufort for which one needs a car, which I only have every seven years (but that’s yet another story).
So in any case, on a beautiful sunny afternoon* in the midst of the most horrible March in Paris I can recall, four of us lit off for Aulnay. Despite our fears of unruly adolescents, roaming the streets on a day the schools were on strike for reasons only marginally understandable, we had a nice stroll to the resto. We exited the station and went through a sizeable street market and alongside a huge covered market.
The streets are lined with plane trees, the houses quite nice and set back and you had a sense you were a 100 rather than 10 kilometers from home. We entered the Auberge des Saints Peres and it sure looked like an auberge in the countryside.
I won’t describe the meal in detail because I’ve done so elsewhere, but suffice it to say that it was genuine one star food at reasonable prices. The amuse bouches were spicy, tasty and inventive and the firsts modern versions of old favorites (scallops and white chicken liver). The mains, where even one stars often fall down, were inventive – for example, a “paella” that was deconstructed, onglet topped with a sauce made with, of all things – capers, and a rascasse dish with great veggies; the cheese board groaned; and the pre-desserts and desserts and mignardises sang, in one case from aspirin used to make the sauce bubbly.
We were not overstuffed but the kilometer hike back to the RER was welcome.
A few days later, also one* when the sun finally shone, Colette and I revisited the place that the HC and I ate at last month, l’Idee in Levallois-Perret. Here, granted we were only a new blocks past the peripherique, but it’s still a psychological barrier for some folk. Again, though, the walk from the Metro was fun and nice and envigorating.
The place prides itself on bringing stuff to the table straight from the market and indeed, a few more meters up the street (Villiers) is a market that’s open incredibly long hours and has both bio and kosher produce, so one believes their claim.
I cannot say this too was a one star experience, and not everything was perfect (my beef was overdone and Colette’s fish a bit too blah) but for quite good grub made from fresh products at the right price – a 2-course formula with wine or bottled water and coffee for 24 Euros – it’s tough to go wrong.
* Our last meals were in March, 2006, fully paid for.
My favorites way out there are:
l’Auberge des Saints Peres
212, av Nonneville in Aulnay sous Bois (RER: Aulnay)
T : 01.48.66.62.11
Closed Saturday, Sundays and Wednesday nights
Lunch menu 38 €
52, ave de la Porte de Villiers in Levallois-Perret (Metro: Porte de Chaparret)
T : 01.41.05.05.35
Closed Sunday lunch and Mondays
3-course lunch menu at 30 and two for 24 € with wine or bottled water and coffee