|La Fontaine de Mars is located in an upscale neighborhood from what we observed.
On Tuesday night, we took a taxi from our hotel to La Fontaine de Mars, a popular French dining establishment a 10-minute drive from our hotel. We could have walked, but decided on a cab when we were in casual dressy attire with shoes not befitting long walks.
We paid twice as much for the outgoing taxi (the round trip was US $25.52, EU $19) on the way to the restaurant as opposed to the return drive later in the evening. The lower-priced taxi of the night was a newer black Mercedes with the driver wearing a suit.
|Tom wasn’t his usual smiley self while waiting for La Fontaine de Mars to open for our 7:30 reservation. Us old-timers always arrive too early. Why is that?
Later, our concierge explained that when a taxi is called by phone, they turn on the meter from wherever they are when they get the call and for the time it takes them to pick up their passengers. Often over US $12 is already posted by the time the passengers enter the cab! Wow!
Once seated in the taxi, it’s awkward and uncomfortable to grumble, get out of the cab, and flag down another taxi. We don’t do this.
|The staff was busy preparing for the evening’s usual totally booked tourist crowd, often Americans, from what we read online.
Taxi drivers in Paris don’t negotiate as they have in many other countries we’ve visited. Actually, unlike many parts of the world in general haggling over product and service prices is considered tacky in Paris. Then again, we never haggled over the price of services in Minnesota.
Arriving 15 minutes early for our reservation, we walked up and down the charming neighborhood taking a few photos and noting the number of restaurants ,many of which were highly recommend and a bit too pricey for every night dining.
|This tiny room where we dined had seating for 16. The restaurant appeared to be a converted house with three of four rooms such as this on the second level, which we read was preferable to dining on the loud, busy main floor. However, some may prefer the more lively pace.
Had we stayed in Paris for a shorter visit spending less overall, it would have been worth trying a few other restaurants in this special area with several restaurants owned by the famous chef, Christian Constant who’s creative influence was apparent in La Fontaine de Mars with many unique items on the menu, many of which I’d love to have tried had I been able.
Trip Advisor rated La Fontaine de Mars #361 of 12,672 (the number of restaurants in Paris on TripAdvisor has increased by almost 100 since our arrival in Paris two weeks ago).
|This is the menu with prices in Euros. US $10 converts to EU $7.48 based on today’s rates.
Unfortunately, the limitations of my way of eating limits my menu options with many flour laden sauces and side dishes. As for Tom and his limited taste buds dictate that he order mostly beef and pork and potatoes for a side dish. Many options in finer establishments include beans, lentils, and varying forms of rice, none of which he’s willing to try.
As a result, Tom chose the filet mignon with fries and I did the same, exchanging the fries for spinach when the menu indicated Bearnaise sauce was served with the steak. Bearnaise sauce typically isn’t made with flour, starch, or sugar.
|The opposite side of the room in which we dined at La Fontaine de Mars.
Béarnaise sauce is made with butter and egg yolks, not unlike Hollandaise sauce but, with the addition of finely chopped fresh tarragon, shallots, wine vinegar, and white wine.
When the gravy boat of Bearnaise sauce was placed on the table with a small spoon on the side, I took a taste knowing Tom wouldn’t try it. It was heavenly! I could have eaten the entire portion with the spoon. I almost did when scooping a sizable dollop on each bite of my rare, cooked to perfection steak.
|My filet mignon on a bed of spinach. I moved over the steak and piled the sauce on the spinach. My way of eating encourages eating lots of fat, excluding trans fat and vegetable oils, but includes animal fat, butter, coconut and olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
I chose the spinach as opposed to the fried potatoes in order to smear as much of the Bearnaise sauce over it as well. It was delicious, to say the least. I’d considered a salad, but again, olive oil atop a bunch of greens doesn’t do it for me.
The steak, spinach, and Béarnaise sauce consisted of my entire meal, leaving me hungry after returning to our hotel later in the evening. I took out the nuts and topped off my evening and my appetite.
|Tom’s filet mignon with fries and butter for the breadbasket.
Tom had the bread (which at this point he’s tired of crusty bread), the medium-sized portion of fries, and the steak sans sauce. None of the appetizers or desserts appealed to him.
We share a one-liter bottle of “still” water. Our total bill for dinner US $96.20, EU $72 plus the taxi fare of US $25.52, EU $19.
|By the time I remembered to take this photo, I’d already consumed half of this server of Bearnaise sauce.
This restaurant had become more popular over the past several years after Obama’s had visited in 2009 which had no influence on our decision to select this restaurant. We discovered this fact after we’d found the listing on TripAdvisor and booked the reservation. The concierge at our hotel shared the Obama story which we later found online at this link.
Apparently, after their visit, visiting Americans stormed the restaurant as a favorite place to dine in Paris making getting a reservation difficult five years later.
|Our bill, which converted to US $96.20.
Overall, it was very good. It would have been fun to be with a group ordering numerous appetizers, desserts, and wines to share. Otherwise, the cost to do so for a couple could easily bring the bill upwards of US $300, EU $224 by each adding an appetizer and a dessert, plus one bottle of lower priced wine.
|View from the upper level of La Fontaine de Mars from the steps to the upper level.
The service was exemplary, the intimate ambiance on the second floor was quaint and charming, the table settings with patterned tablecloths and oversized matching linen napkins was classic French, the menu interesting and the food very good.
|View of the back of Tom’s head and the busy first level, which many diners prefer or where latecomers are seated. No reservations are held beyond 15 minutes of their scheduled time.
Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience which we’d recommend to others without hesitation if one is prepared to spend well over US $150, EU $112 for an entrée, and a bottle of wine.
|Tom, as usual, first in line, waiting for the restaurant to open at 7 pm.
Now on to last night’s dining experience at Bistrotters, rated #5 of 12,672 on Trip Advisor. With high expectations, last night we took another taxi to the further distance to the restaurant situated in an average residential neighborhood on a side street.
|Based on the lighting it was tough to get a good shot of the menu. Enlarging this photo will enable easier reading.
Arriving 10 minutes early, we waited with a dozen or so other diners outside the door for the restaurant to open. We were the first to enter having a choice as to where to sit. We chose the quiet corner in the back area away from the windows in a tiny table with a half-moon shaped table leaf we and others opened for added table space.
|Tom’s first course of chorizo, which he found appetizing.
As Tom perused the surroundings shortly after we entered, all the tables were filled, it appeared the charming little bistro could serve 24 diners at a seating. We imagined it turned over several times per evening.
|The waiter was surprised when I ordered the foie gras based on my food restrictions. He felt it may be too fatty without bread or crackers. I found it to be extraordinary, the best foie gras I’ve ever had. This morning, I looked up a few recipes and if I can find duck liver anywhere, I think that once we’re situated again in a few months, I may attempt to make this. Note the next photo for a perspective of the size of the serving.
The waiters were quick to attend to our drinks, provide English menus, and take our orders. With no beer or cocktail on the menu that Tom wanted, we opted to stick with the fresh bottle of tap water placed on the table after we were seated. (The tap water is safe to drink in Paris).
|This plate provides a better perspective of the size of my portion of foie gras. In the middle were pickled tomatoes and a salad, both of which contained sugar in the dressing which I opted not to eat after taking a taste. The coarse salt and the cayenne pepper on the right of the plate were the perfect accompaniment.
Once again, Tom ordered the filet mignon with fries and I ordered fish. I had no idea as to the type of fish when the waiter’s heavy accent made it difficult to determine with all the background noise. As long as fish is filleted properly I’ll eat any type of fish with the exception of bottom feeders or farmed fish.
|The room in which we dined before the other reservations were seated.
On the menu was a choice of two courses for US $40, EU $30, or three courses for US $49, EU $37. I choose the starter of the most delicious foie gras minus the bread, with a small salad which I didn’t eat when I could tell there was sugar in the dressing. The fois gras was heavenly. I cut it into tiny squares savoring one bite at a time, dipping it into the Kosher salt and cayenne pepper on the side of the plate.
|This was the room in which we dined located at the back of the tiny two-room restaurant
Tom’s dessert of caramel chocolate French toast looked divine. I watched him take every bite spreading it through the caramel dollops and melting slices of rich chocolate on the plate. He said it was excellent.
|The other tiny room in Bistrotters with seating for 12. Total seating appeared to be available for 24 diners.
Our bill arrived without asking, most likely to begin accommodating other diners soon to arrive for the next seating. Without cocktails and neither of us able to handle caffeine after dinner, we were ready to go. I must stress that we didn’t feel rushed by any means.
|This was my entrée, the size deceiving in this photo. There were two small pieces of an unknown fish atop a variety of vegetables and vegetable puree, although they appear as fruit. It was good, not great.
Our total bill with my two-course and Tom’s three-course meal with no additional items added with gratuity and taxes included came to US $99.60, EU $75, less than we’d expected when we booked the reservation. Here again as above, with a bottle of wine added, the bill would easily come to US $150, EU $112.
|Tom’s filet mignon main course with a side of peppercorn sauce and fries.
Yes, we’d recommend Bistrotters as we have as well for La Fontaine de Mars above.This charming little spot so bespeaks the French style of dining by conserving space, serving consistent delicious meals, all meticulously prepared and served and priced comparably to any upper midrange restaurant we may have frequented in our old neighborhood in the US.
Overall, the four meals we had in the trendy more upscale restaurants in Paris, we found to be fresh, delicious, creative, and with good service, similarly prices:
1. Les Ombres, Trip Advisor
2. Bateaux Parisiens, the dinner cruise on the River Seine, Trip Advisor
3. La Fountaine de Mars, Trip Advisor
4. Bistrotters, Trip Advisor
|Tom dessert, a caramel, chocolate French toast. The slices of chocolate melted over the warm French toast after it sat for a few minutes.
The total combined cost for dining in the above four establishments, keeping in mind that the Bateaux Parisiens included the two and a half-hour boat tour of the River Seine and all the wine Tom could drink, totals US $634, EU $474, averaging at US $159, EU $118 per venue. With the remaining meals we’ve had in Paris staying under US $60, EU $45, we stayed well within our budget of US $100, EU $75 per day. We expect that by adding breakfast and dinner, that amount would double.
In London, the budget is comparable to Paris, also allowing us to dine in a few finer establishments during the 15 nights of our stay. So far, it appears prices are similar to those in Paris.
|The bill from Bistrotters converted to US $99.60.
Hands down, Tom and I both feel the Bateaux Parisiens, the dinner cruise, had the best food and value when it included multiple courses, two bottles of wine, champagne, and divine desserts for a total of US $270, EU $202 and of course, the exquisite boat ride down the River Seine at night with the lights of the city aglow.
Again tomorrow, we’ll make the 15-minute walk to our second visit to the laundromat and then back to the hotel to pack for the Eurostar train to London on Saturday morning. We’ve already managed a reservation at the #3 spot in Trip Advisor for Saturday night at 7:00 pm. Safari luck.
|Over the past two weeks, it has rained most days having an impact on our sightseeing.
We’ll be back tomorrow with more new photos of Paris. As for Saturday’s travel day, we’re in the process of preparing a post you’ll see at our usual time with the wrap up of our total expenses, line by line, for 16 nights in Paris. Stop back!
Photo from one year ago today, August 14, 2013:
Yesterday, in error I posted the wrong date from a year ago. As a result, there’s no year-ago post for today.