Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Chez Denis, With Kids
Chez Denis (5, rue des Prouvaires, Paris / 01 42 36 21 82) is a favorite bistro of mine. Besides the fact that we were both created in the same year, Chez Denis is a great place to get snails, organ meats, terrines of fish or meat, and one of the better steak tartare I have had. Its loud, smoky, and crowded. The waiters don't even secretly know English. You're on your own.
Eating there with kids was worth it, but a bit of a challenge, especially if you have finicky eaters. To start with they have two soft drinks, Coca Cola and Orangina. For you, they have excellent house wine and a decent list. The bread, not the best I have had in Paris, was a thick, dark, peasant style bread that was not enjoyed by any of the four children in our party. There was nothing at all to feed a child from the list of appetizers, although I did offer boys 1 and 2 all the snails they could eat (neither took me up on it). With some difficulty, we were able to convince the waiter (more out of language difficulties than because of "Frenchiness" as he seemed rather nice) to bring out one order of fries as an appetizer. We tried to get the kids a plain lettuce salad, but all they had was frisee. For you, the frisee comes with nice, greasy tasty croutons and an excellent vinegarette dressing. The terrines were excellent too.
The reason that my kids thought this place was great, and ultimately the reason I do too, is the steak. I am usually fan of American beef, and love steakhouses. But this place rocks. I had steak tartare myself, and if any of you people have any comments on the potential evils of raw eggs in raw hamburger please try to remember who is the gastroenterologist here. The enterocote and the onglette were both excellent. One piece of advice I have is to remember that in Paris, "medium" is medium rare, blue is effectively raw, and there is some name in between them which is more rare than rare usually is in the states and less blue than blue usually is.
Desserts were also great for the kids. They have an over sized ramekin of chocolate mousse which was a favorite of all four kids there. For adults, there are a variety of bistro style desserts which are fine.
One final thing to remember is that in addition to the posted menu, there is also a bar menu. Make sure to take a look on your way in. They will serve you parts of it at your table.