Bibi flew to Paris for business and met me at my hotel so we could go to dinner at 10:00pm. Yes, she’s one of the few people I’d actually wait to eat dinner with at that ungodly hour.
Where were we going to eat? Well, I tried to make reservations at Pomze but they were booked… so I left it up to Bibi since she had a bunch of local recommendations/addresses from a friend of hers; and luckily, the restaurant she had in mind was 5 minutes from my hotel.
When we found the road to turn onto, we saw a bunch of stickers on the door and went inside. The host asked if I had a reservation and I shook my head no… but I kinda/sorta begged/pleaded… and got a table for three in a cozy corner.
When I took a look at the menu, I saw two main options tajines or couscous all priced around 17-22 euro.
- First thought: this is not a French Restaurant… it’s North African.
- Second thought: 20 euro for couscous??
- Third thought: Are we in the right place??
We weren’t. After we finished our meal, Bibi went out for a cigarette and realized that we were supposed to go to the restaurant next door that looked like a private party… but the story continues LOL.
So I asked the girls at the table next to me if they’ve been to Le 404 before and they said that they always go to this restaurant whenever they’re in town for work and absolutely LOVE IT. So they’re either creatures of habit or this place is really, REALLY GOOD.
Vegetable Cous Cous (Massimo)
Chicken & Pear Tajine (Bibi)
404 Meat Tajine (Justine)
Enivronment: Posh yet casual. The restaurant has a gorgeous Moroccan interior and it kinda made me want to dance my way to the table. Just make sure to wear airy clothing because the smell of curry powder clung onto my leather jacket
almost as bad as a Chinese Restaurant because they have an open kitchen.
Food: We were really lucky that we were seated next to a table of English-Speaking girls because their recommendations were spot on. I’ve never eaten North African food so I didn’t know what to expect… and to be honest, I didn’t even know what a tajine was until now (cue dictionary: a North African stew of spiced meat and vegetables prepared by slow cooking in a shallow earthenware cooking dish with a tall, conical lid).
When the waiter lifted the terracotta clay pots, gusts of steam escaped and then we all shared our dishes together. The chicken & pear tajine was my favorite- the meat was tender, the flavor of the pear combined with the veggies as well as the crunchy peanuts (that Bibi referred to as really hard beans LOL) gave it a nice texture. The vegetables in the couscous broth were super soft with a hint of spice (not overwhelming at all). And as for the 404 dish, I completely ignored the veggies (however, the olives were awesome) and went straight for the beef, lamb shank and sausage. Cooked well, tender and filling. Smiles all around.
Prices: More or less, it came to 27 euro per person with a mojito (BTW, the mojitos are their signature cocktail, but I found them pretty standard… the girls next to me highly recommended the mint tea as well as the mojitos, but I’m guessing they had too many signature cocktails). All of the dishes were in the same price range (meat dishes were approx. 5 euro more), and even though we were super satisfied with this restaurant, I just think it’s just a little too expensive to charge so much for a drink and a plate of couscous w/ vegetables.
Service: They speak English and they gave us a table at 10:00pm. Works for me.
Just don’t ask them for directions…
Extremely tired from touring all day, I wanted to call it a night at 11:30pm when we finished dinner. However Bibi said “bar”, I said “no”, then Bibi said, “are you sure?” and then I said, “okay let’s go.”
The waiters at the restaurant told us the bar we had in mind on Rue Jacobs was just down the street, so I figured a quick drink, and then bed time. Well. That was not the case. When a French person gives you directions, expect to triple your E.T.A.
We got “down the street”, asked another person for directions and they said it’s “down the street” as well. So we walked a bit further and became skeptical of this “down the street” business. Therefore, Bibi did her best to ask people on the street for directions, but they almost mistook her for a beggar when she gestured people to stop with her hands clasped in prayer position…
As soon as she put her hands down, two women stopped, pulled out their iPhone and gave us directions. Their exact words, “you have to cross two bodies of water and then ask someone where to go when you get to Saint-Germain”.
Approximately one hour later, maybe more, we finally reached our destination. Why didn’t we go a different bar? It was recommended by a friend, the locals giving us directions said that they heard good things about this bar, and the drinks come in baby bottles- why would we want to go anywhere else?
So just as we approached the door, the lights went off. I’m not joking. Can you say good timing??
But whatever. We found the location and we had a very entertaining walk together- made friends with random strangers along the way, took photos of macarons in store windows and walked Paris at night.
Since it was 1:00am, the other bars were going to close soon… so I just put my city skills to good use and hailed us a cab to take us back to our hotels.
Note to Self: Buy GPS.