Au Port du Salut

I am taking you back to Paris today. Frankly I haven’t talked enough about food so the next couple of posts are going to make you want to book the next flight to France and start eating as soon as you get off the plane.

On Sunday, May 18, after attending mass at Notre Dame (of the six of us, two are lapsed Catholics, the others are not Catholic or non-church goers but we went because it was advertised as a Gregorian chanted mass), we decided to stroll over to the Pantheon and then on to the Luxembourg Gardens. On the way we figured we would stumble upon a sandwich shop for lunch. Events turned out much better than we ever imagined. At first, it seemed that Sunday afternoon and sandwich shops or cafes wasn’t going to happen. Or maybe it was just the streets we were choosing but nothing looked open or appealing. We passed a place called Au Port du Salut that had six seats outside but it looked a bit fancy for our purposes so we continued to walk.  After passing on several others less interesting establishments, Au Port du Salut (Port of Salvation) started to look like our port for lunch so back we went.

au Port du Salut

Au Port du Salut

There were a few people eating outside and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. But, the six seats outside were now taken.  Inside we go where we were seated at a long table with a banquette on one side and chairs on the other. Some excellent jazz was playing in the background and as we looked around we noticed a definite jazz theme with signed photographs of musicians and artists and entertainers on the walls.port-du-salutOur waiter brought us menus and we started by ordering wine for the guys and Kir for the ladies. Kir is a white wine with an added liqueur. I had apricot, Barbara’s was peach and Patricia got the classic with creme de cassis. Very refreshing.

center: Kir au cassis

center: Kir au cassis

As is the custom, it was a long time between drinks and ordering food and the arrival of food. But the French are a casual lot and we didn’t have to be anywhere so why the hurrry? Choices of entree (appetizer), plat (main dish) and dessert are on the menu. And you can order ala carte or choose from the various du jour combinations that comprise the specials of the day. This being lunch, we weren’t prepared for a huge meal, so three had the entree, a broiled mackerel, and everyone had a plat. Curt said he was happy to try the mackeral but he wouldn’t go out of his way for it a second time.

For the main plat, I had the pork with potatoes. The pork was perfectly roasted and the potato wedges with an aoilli sauce were firm on the outside but soft and creamy on the inside. I think I licked my plate clean.pork and potatoesTwo of our party had the Vegetarian plate. Once again, an unexpected delight. First of all the presentation was wonderful, secondly, the vegetables were a mixture of white and wild asparagus, eggplant and spinach. Yes that golden strip on the top of the plate is a grilled white asparagus spear.

asparagus port salutCurt ordered the cod. This came on a bed of sauted greens with white asparagus on top. On the side was shot glass of Hollandaise sauce that was downright sinful.

cod white asparagusWith more wine and a basket of french bread we must have spent two hours there just enjoying the food and the atmosphere.

Now here’s the kicker! After returning home we looked up the Au Port du Salut, just because all the photos and Dave Brubeck in the background made us think there was more here than met the eye.

We discovered that this building was an inn originally built in the 15th C. and renovated in the 18th C. It was a popular cabaret and jazz club between 1955 and 1982. Many French artists, actors and musicians debuted here. It has been designated a Historical Monument because of its early beginnings. They still have live music here in the evenings and their menu is based on what is market fresh. Truly an amazing find.

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