Saturday, October 15, 2011

Paris Nostalgia: Chez Gladines

I woke up this morning missing Paris, so much so that I went in search of Comté at 10am. The closest thing I found at my local fromagerie was a Gruyère. Despite its Swiss origins, it did the trick.

For those of you who don’t know me, earlier this year I had the great fortune of living in Paris for 6 months with my boyfriend, Samburger. I know living in Paris is far from Plebe, but I did work three jobs to make it happen.

Our favorite restaurant was a little Basque place in the 13th arrondisement called Chez Gladines. I had always been into food, but my obsession hit a fever pitch once I moved to Paris, mainly attributable to this Plebe's paradise. 

My first memory of Chez Gladines has nothing to do with food; it’s of Hervé, the tall drink of water behind the bar with the manliest hands I’ve ever seen. Those hands were made for hacking baguettes, among other things. Several visits into our tenure at Chez Gladines, Samburger remarked on a gash on Hervé’s hand, presumably caused by his mid-air slicing acrobatics. From then on the surly barman had a bit of a penchant for us, or so we thought.

Chez Gladines espouses the sort of convivial spirit you would expect from a Bavarian beer hall. Think clanking Beer Steins and accordion players, but without the Beer Steins … or accordion players. They open at 7, are full by 7:06, and stay full until well past midnight. Considering the lengthy wait for a table, it’s not unusual to see people camped out on the sidewalk drinking €2.50 cups of Sangria and smoking their “clops,” even on the coldest nights. 

Salade Complète: Cantal, tomatoes, egg, potatoes, goat cheese subbed in for ham (€9)
My go-to was always the Salade Complète sans jambon, plus chèvre (no ham, plus goat cheese, for you English monoglots). My attempt at being Kosher, I suppose. Anyone can throw lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, cheese and egg into a serving bowl, but it's the anonymous dressing and potatoes that make this dish special. I dream of those potatoes. They must be fried in the fat of Greek gods. This picture is true to scale; the salad is legitimately served in a metal salad bowl. If that's not bang for buck then I don't know what is. 

Escalope de Veau Montagnarde (€13)
The Escalope de Veau Montagnarde was Samburger's go-to until he realized the veal was deceptively covered with slices of ham. (He, too, prays to the god of Manischewitz and Challah.) Stupid opaque sauce. I kid; that sauce is the stuff foodie dreams are made of. 

There's nothing fancy about this dish. It's a piece of veal covered in ham, the above-mentioned potatoes and mushrooms, all smothered in this Snuggie of a sauce. Multiple Google searches have rendered me answerless as to the ingredients of this nectar, but it most definitely has cream. Pounds of it. I think ignorance is bliss when it comes to this one. 

Canard Roquefort (€13)
Post-hamgate, Samburger switched gears (and mammals) and settled on the Pavé de Canard Roquefort (duck in Roquefort sauce). Forget the meat; once again it's the sauce that reigns supreme in this dish. Imagine getting to swim in a pool of melted Roquefort and cream. Lucky duck. 

If you love simple and delicious grub, are not opposed to eating with strangers or waiting outside for what feels like hours, and don't have an aversion to gingham, then Chez Gladines is for you. 

Samburger and I constantly mimic the fast-paced waiters whizzing by yelling "CHAUD, CHAUD, CHAUD" as we dash from the microwave to the table with our Lean Cuisines. 

We're still paying for Paris, and happily so.

Price: all of the Texas-sized mains are between €9 and 14, a real steal. 

Chez Gladines
30, rue des Cinq Diamants
Paris, 75013
01 45 80 70 10
Metro: Corvisart
No reservations

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