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March 10, 2018

Postcard from Paris: Chez Papa

PARIS -- Stopping in Paris for a few days on my way to the wine regions of France has become a ritual. There's usually a trip to Willi's Wine Bar on the Right Bank. Willi's has always served exceptional wine but the cuisine was somewhat rustic. They've recently upped their game in the kitchen at Willi's, for which I am grateful.

Joel Robuchon's l'Atelier, on the Left Bank, is another ritual. It's a splurge because it's very expensive, but it's my favorite restaurant in Paris. And the selection of wines by the glass is superb.

I also frequent the Chez Papa Jazz Club in Saint-Germain, not far from l'Atelier, but I had never even considered dining there. My mistake, as I discovered this week on my way to Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne in Burgundy.

I had booked a hotel, Bel Amis, in Saint-Germain because it had recently become a Starwood partner and I am addicted to Starwood (SPG) points. Bel Amis had the added advantage of being a few doors up Rue Saint-Benoit from Chez Papa.

There are many fine restaurants in the area and my typical play would be to enjoy dinner at one of my favorites and then pop into Chez Papa for the last couple of sets. For a change of pace, I decided to test Chez Papa's culinary chops.

The jazz show was sold out this wet and cold Friday evening and I had to practically beg to get a table. They were very gracious and moved some tables around to squeeze me in. Others were turned away after I was seated. I considered myself lucky, and I was.

Pleasantly surprised, too. I opened with a coup de Champagne from Nicolas Feuillatte as an aperitif. For a starter, I ordered a plate of jamon Serrano. It was thinly sliced and served at room temperature. Perfect.

A bottle of Gigondas, fairly priced at 39 euros, worked well with the ham. But it was even better with the main course, filet of veal in a cream sauce made with fresh ceps.

The food and wine were first-rate, the service exceptional, and the music sublime.

And I now have a new routine to add to my bulging list of Paris rituals.

Posted by Robert Whitley at 10:01 AM