Clarence Beats the Heat: Grom and Les Banquettes

I’m kind of tired of writing about our vacation, so instead I’m going to tell you about what I’ve been up to since I got home to sad old dreary Paris. I have a remarkably difficult life, what with this seemingly endless summer vacation and all. I’ve spent a lot of these hot days sitting in front of a fan with my feet in a bucket of ice water. B, in fact, has started referring to it as “bucket time,” as in, “Is it time to go home for some bucket time?”

Other recent “beat the heat” Parisian-style strategies include:

1) Hiding out in air-conditioned movie theatres. One of my recent favorites is Action Ecoles, as they have been screening a Marcello Mastroianni series for the past month. Le sigh. This is how movie stars are supposed to be. I get kinda antsy when actors like Clive Owen and George Clooney are described as movie stars in the Old Hollywood kind of way. Bullshit. George Clooney couldn’t polish Cary Grant’s shoes. Likewise, they just don’t make ‘em like Marcello anymore. Poor B has been forced to listen to both mine and M’s audible swoons during both Matrimonio all’italiana and Divorzio all’italiana – though I suspect Sophia Loren’s presence in the former helped cushion the blows considerably. If you haven’t seen either of them recently (or like me, if you haven’t seen them before), I’d really recommend you check them out. They are funny, easy summer fare. It was also a lot of fun for us to try and recognize various Sicilian cities that we had just visited.

2) Making damn sure that we know where to get the best gelato in Paris.  And I’ll tell you what, I’m a little bit conflicted after our recent visit to Grom (81 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, Métro Mabillion). This Italian chain is a favorite among Parisian foodie bloggers, including He Who Will Not Be Named And Yes I’ve Heard of His Blog And No I Don’t Want To Read It Because How Smug Can You Be, Really. But Grom is a pretty cool gelato destination.  Standout flavors include their Crema di Grom (a vanilla gelato speckled with Battifollo (cornbread!) biscuits and Teyuna chocolate chips), Caffè espresso (a super-bitter gelato made with Guatemalan Genuina Antigua coffee – not for the faint of heart!), and the flavor of the month, Fiordilatte all’amarena Griotta (a heavy cream ice cream ribboned with candied sour black cherries).  They take a lot of care in scooping out their gelato and the company seems to have an excellent track record with the environment. So I’m torn, a little bit, away from my beloved Pozzetto. But Grom is all the way on the Left Bank, and Pozzetto is only three blocks away, so I think you can guess who wins that fight on a sticky day.  Still, should I find myself in St. Germain I won’t hesitate to stop by Grom, especially when oyster season starts again and I find myself conveniently in the neighborhood of Huîtrerie Règis more often.

3) Boozing with our friends and trying new restaurants.  I guess this doesn’t really constitute a “beat the heat” strategy as it’s basically what we do year round. But a couple bottles of cold rosé and shaded patio on a tree-lined street don’t hurt matters on a sticky summer evening. One such patio is located at the delightful Les Banquettes (3 Rue de Prague, 75012 Paris, Métro Ledru-Rollin), my first three marmite restaurant! The occasion was M’s husband AC’s final evening in Paris after a visit from Washington DC, M’s hometown and a likely site of Clarence on Vacay in the next few years. AC is as fantastic as his wife, and we had a great time getting to know him better during his stay. The four of us had two terrific meals, one at a Senegalese place that I’m saving for its own (forthcoming) entry, and one at Les Banquettes, which M had read rave reviews about.  And woah, ho, ho, was it yummy.  AC, M, and I all took the entrée of the day, a shrimp and salmon tartare served over an avocado mousse:

Which was bested by B’s entrée, a foie-gras and Roquefort terrine served with a dark chocolate brittle and a currant chutney:

Have I mentioned that I’m recently cursed with some bad food karma?  Not too bad, of course, but I’ve definitely been on a losing streak ever since I brashly declared that B was a terrible orderer who was doomed to be jealous of my plate? Well, pride goeth before a fall, and ever since my declaration B’s plates are looking better and better compared to mine. I guess I deserved it.  Here is his dreamy lamb en croûte and roasted tomato main course:

Fortunately my karma wasn’t too bad that evening and I ordered this (quite terrific) risotto with tiny squids in a port wine reduction.  It was heavenly. Bad karma or not, I suspect it would be tough to order a losing dish at Les Banquettes.

M and AC shared this beautiful cannette (duck):

And this amazing sea bream (?):

I wish I had more details about what we ate, because man oh man it was delicious. But we had taken AC and M to a Corsican bar beforehand so that they could sample our new love of Pietra, and then we somehow managed to polish off two bottles of rosé with dinner.  So to be honest, I was sloshed. I’m sort of amazed that there are even pictures to start out with. B, AC, and M, feel free to chime in here and correct my faulty memories of an exceptionally lovely evening.  Les Banquettes serves really wonderful, interesting versions of French classics and the guys that run it are super-charming.  Best of all, an entreé and main course (or a main course and a dessert) will only set you back 28€, pas mal for a place that has the kind of culinary word-of-mouth that this joint has.  At lunchtime, the 14€ formule comes with an entrée, main course, dessert, and a quart of wine.  Be still my heart!

So that’s what I’ve got in terms of beating the heat, kids.  Get yourself a bucket, good food, ice cream, and some lovely friends, and you’ll be set.



  1. B

    They also started us off with that amuse bouche shot glass full of whipped dill and parsley cream… mmm. Which spurred the impasse between AC and the waitstaff, and laid bare the delicate negotiations of moving from one course to another… he could have waited and waited, but they weren’t going to let him have his cream with bread.

    • lesbonsbonsdesraisons

      I forgot about that! I especially liked that he tried to hide the amuse bouche under the table. Heaven forbid you disrupt the proper chronology of a Parisian meal! Blasphemy!

  2. laura

    I saw those films last summer, although the cinema wasnt air conditioned and was therefore not very comfortable. Have you seen Seduite et abandonnee? Set in Sicily. Saw it a couple of weeks ago at the Champo.

    • lesbonsbonsdesraisons

      Ooh, no, I haven’t seen that one. I’ll have to look for it! I encountered my first seriously sauna-like French movie theatre last night. Yuck! Hope you are having a great summer!

      • laura

        Thanks! Yes, having a great summer. Have you got the Gaumont cinema card? Its well worth it if you see at least 1 film a week and works in lots of the Latin quarter places. Saw Inception at the Max Linder- lovely and cold!

  3. Your devoted father & friend

    “be still my heart” — my girl loves a real deal, a solid value, an unbelievable bargain. That lunch sounds like all of the above. Pics were mouth-watering.

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