I have been musing on this topic for a few weeks now and have decided that this magical foodie evening must have its own dedicated post as it would be an injustice to try and work it in with anything else. It’s a food experience that should be told alone, in its entirety and I have tried my best to adequately convey the quintessential loveliness of it, as it was truly perfect and a highlight of our entire Paris voyage.
The whole day had been spent wandering through the opulent decadence that was Versailles. Endless gold leaf, rich fabrics and mirrored hallways situated within miles of gardens dotted with fountains, perfectly pruned hedges and Marie Antoinette’s Trianon and adorable (if not completely OTT) Hamlet, complete with moulin, mill and food “reheating” room. Needless to say it required the whole day. So once we found ourselves back in Paris it was straight off the metro near Notre Dame to find somewhere for dinner. Fortunately the Île Saint-Louis (neighbouring the Île de la Cité) has a reputation for food and dining options so we made a beeline. Lonely planet had supplied a few recommendations but after we sought out the first few they simply didn’t appeal. It was on our way to the final suggestion that we happened upon the most French restaurant you could imagine.
Situated in a building that dates back to 1617 with decor in the Tudor style, we peered in the open stained glass window to find an entirely empty restaurant bar a dark haired French waiter setting places on the small wooden carved tables and chairs. We looked at the menu with name Aux Anysetiers du Roy emblazoned at the top and were immediately enticed by the hearty and traditional fare on offer – confit canard, fricassee, cassoulet, rabbit, saumon, foie gras, salade…but it was the interior that really already had us. Cosy, quaint and a hint of old world opulence it seemed fitting following our days activities.
So on we entered (to a slightly begrudging greeting from the waiter who told us to ‘sit anywhere’) and made ourselves comfortable in the corner near the tiny stairwell so we had a view of the rest of our environment. After scanning the room and marvelling at our luck in happening upon such a gem we were handed sturdy leather bound menus to pour over. Having already decided that the rabbit with mustard sauce sounded right up my alley my gut instinct was affirmed when I read it was a “chefs recommandé plats“. Mama settled on the special of cassoulet filled with delicious meats of duck, pork, saucisson and black pudding. We placed our order (only adding a salade vert for a side) much to the clear surprise of the waiter who raised his eyebrows at our choices…”pomme frites?” was his response. “Non, merci,” was our simultaneous reply. “Ok…boissons?” (I should note a small smile had started to form). I sensed this and asked for his recommendation – “Qu’est ce que vous recommendez? Rosé?” He thought a moment and then, “Oui. Rosé for the rabbit is good“. Mama then followed suit and had a Merlot matched to her cassoulet. The waiter quickly finished scribbling on his order pad, looked up then smiled and took our menus. Success! We had won over the waiter.
It wasn’t long before our vins were poured and delivered to our table with deliciously salty peanuts (the French alternative for olives). As we happily munched, completely chuffed with ourselves we watched as the restaurant began to fill as more ad more people piled into the small space. I excused myself to freshen up and found that even the toilets were a Tudor experience!! (In the decor and style only of course…don’t worry there was entirely functional plumbing). After ascending a winding, narrow staircase to the toilet, you then have to climb a few more to a small balcony like landing occupied by the sink and towels in order to wash up. The walls were painted with old murals and the ceiling carved in the gothic style. It was simply delightful, so much so I returned to the table and swiftly informed Mama that she must go to the bathroom just to see it…which she then did.
Freshly cut baguette was also promptly brought to the table (I had already observed that one never asks for butter as the baguette is supposed to be enjoyed on its own or as an accompaniment to the main meal). We tore the fluffy white slices in halves and savoured the carb-y goodness. The smells wafting from the kitchen filled the space and made it even more cosy and welcoming, so I was grateful that our meals weren’t long to follow.
The rabbit was splendid – succulent and full of flavour, it fell off the bone and just melted in your mouth, while the mustard sauce was perfectly complimentary – balanced and not too overpowering to take attention away from the meat it was just the right consistency to mop up with the fresh baguette. Whereas the bed of green beans it was served on acted as a neutral palate cleanser and added texture. Magnifique! Mama couldn’t stop raving about the cassoulet either – packed with delicious meat jus and braised duck, pork and juicy sausage, it was hearty and wholesome, crammed with white beans and served piping hot in a round terracotta pot. Needless to say we polished off our meals and well matched vins rather swiftly.
After deliberating over dessert (think rich chocolate fondue, creme brûlée, tarte tartin or cheese and muscatels) we decided we were satisfied with our wonderful foodie experience at Aux Anysetiers du Roy and wanted to leave it in all its perfection. So we requested the l’addition (bill) and thanked our (now friendly) waiter profusely for such fabulous fare. Mama even peered over the large buffet that covered the entrance to the small kitchen and personally thanked the chef, telling him it was “tres délicieux“!
As we descended the large, old stone steps we expected it to be seriously chilly outside, as night had well and truly fallen…but instead we were pleasantly surprised by a very mild evening. So we decided to promenade down Rue Saint-Louis en I’lle and leisurely make our way back to our Marais apartment. It was about halfway down the street that we found the famous Parisian glacier and iconic institution, Berthillon. Who could say no? After the kind gentleman serving explained each of the 20 something flavours to us Mama settled on Pain d’epices (gingerbread) and Agenaise (a traditional flavour of prune and Armagnac) whereas I opted for his suggested favourites of Cassis (black currant) and Noisette (hazelnut). Oh. Em. Gee. The combination was heavenly – the black currant was wonderfully tart and zingy which cut through the creamy, nuttiness of the Noisette. Served up in a crispy, flakey waffle cone with a hint of cinnamon we relished each bite as we strolled further towards the bridge that connects the two islands.
Just as we reached the top end of the street we began to hear the music carrying from the bridge…and sure enough situated on the edge of the moonlit river was an old gentleman attired with a worn chapeau and suspenders playing the piano accordion. Mama simply stopped dead in her tracks, looked around and said “is this not just completely magical? A mild evening, Parisian music, strolling along the seine and that view…”
Yep Mama, couldn’t agree with you more. The entire evening from the first sip of Rosé at Aux Anysetiers du Roy (a definite 5 on the “Mimi Scale”) to relishing in Noisette Berthillion ice cream to the tune of Sous le ciel de Paris as we watched boats pass along the Seine was utter Parisian perfection.