Chez Georges is a classic Parisian bistro in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris made famous by the American cook Julia Child. I first came across Julia Child from the 2009 film with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams called Julia & Julia where a food blogger is so fascinated by the cook Julia Child that she sets about making every single recipe in her book. In the film, Julia Child visits many eateries, foodie streets, markets and bistros. As a keen cook, I too was fascinated which is why I chose to eat at Chez Georges which was frequented by Julia Child when she moved to Paris.
Knowing that it would be fully booked, I asked my hotel to make reservations for my daughter and I who was accompanying me on my trip to Paris. We were in Paris for two nights and we wanted to eat in a typical bistro and somewhere quite different for our second night. Having eaten at two outstanding bistros in Paris a couple of years ago, Bistro Paul Bert and Josephine Chez Dumonet I had high hopes for Chez Georges; the reviews looked great.
Chez Georges first opened its doors in 1964 and it definitely looks like a bistro frozen in time. First impressions; a little rough around the edges even downtrodden, it’s definitely a little more than worse for wear but it has massive appeal. Perhaps this is what I’ve always thought a quintessential Parisian bistro would look like. In fact, a couple of years ago, I ate at Polidor on rue Monsieur le Prince in the 6th arrondissement, a grubby looking bistro featured in the film Midnight in Paris where Hemingway and the like ate and I loved it. It was like taking a trip back in time as featured in Woody Allen’s famous film. There’s a certain romance about an authentic Parisian bistro with wooden tables, paper check tablecloths, drab curtains, dim lighting and large gilt mirrors and I was definitely very happy to see most of all that when I entered a very full Chez Georges on a Tuesday evening.
What we ate at Chez Georges
A very hospitable and jolly waitress greets us with a massive smile; she shows us to our table and offers the English version of the menu.
Tables are tightly packed together which have to be moved in order for us sit, this is very typical of a Parisian bistro. It’s quite an extensive menu but we knew what we wanted instantly. We weren’t as hungry as we would have liked because we had a bit of a late lunch since we arrived in Paris that very afternoon so we decided to share the starter, I knew portions would be generous as they always are in Parisian bistros and brasseries. We picked foie gras with toast as well as a bottle of water, coke and a glass of Sancerre for me.
I was very surprised to see that there wasn’t the usual fruit jelly to accompany the the foie gras. A dish this rich needs something sweet like a fruit chutney or preserve to cut through it and I definitely missed it and I found the brioche bread cut too thickly but this is an old fashioned bistro with homely food, it doesn’t pretend to be refined. We did however really enjoy the foie gras, something I always choose to eat when I’m in Paris, I make no apologies for loving this French delicacy.
For mains, Zoe ordered Fillet of Beef with Bearnaise sauce and fries and I decided to go for Duck Breast with Mushrooms. Never ask for a well-done steak in Paris, the word is alien to them, and they’ll probably throw you out. This steak had a lot to live up to as we were still in awe of the beautiful piece of beef served at Bistro Paul Bert; steak is what they’re famous for and we still remember and talk about its succulent texture and flavour to this day. The Bearnaise sauce was served separately in a sauce boat, it was actually better served that way as we dipped our delicious crispy fries in the rich buttery sauce heady with tarragon.
Zoe thought the steak was lovely, full of flavour in fact, there’s so much depth to French meat and the steak at Chez Georges is no exception, super succulent. However, she kept reminiscing about the steaks we all enjoyed at Paul Bert in 2017. Bistro Paul Bert is famous in Paris for its steaks, people flock here in their hundred’s day in and day out to try their speciality so I wasn’t surprised by her comment, should I have taken her back there? This trip was for her after all. Not wanting to take anything away from Chez Georges, my duck was simply gorgeous. It was cooked to perfection, pink just like it should be, and the fat rendered to leave a crispy skin. It was served with a mix of meaty wild mushrooms and a delicate jus made from the juices of the duck and the mushrooms. Dipping my French fries in the delicious sauce on my plate and Zoe’s Bearnaise sauce was just the best. I was mindful of how many I ate thought as I wanted to fit dessert in but they were just oh so moorish! Mushrooms I find are quite an unusual accompaniment to duck, but they really were the perfect match to a sublime heavenly dish.
As the restaurant emptied, it got full again just as quickly, people come here not because of Julia Child but because the food is so good, and the ambience is warm and welcoming. No matter how full we were, we had to have dessert. Desserts sit proudly on a old wooden table in the middle the restaurant a bit like a dessert trolley. There’s such a vast choice of dessert like Tarte Tatin, Rum Baba, Chestnut Cream, Rice Pudding and many more but the Mille Feuille was calling our name. Sitting proudly on the table, this quintessential French dessert looked glorious and it tasted so too. To give it its proper name on the menu, Mille Feuille a la Vanilla Bourbon or Vanilla Napoleon. The portion was huge, so we were thankful we ordered one to share, it was absolutely divine. Crispy sweet layers of flaky pastry filled with light, creamy thick custard flavoured with vanilla and bourbon, we were in dessert heaven. I’ve never tasted Mille Feuille as delicious as this before, we had the broadest of smiles.
All I can say is that the food at Chez Georges deserves the rave reviews it is afforded. It’s perfect Parisian bistro fare, hefty portions of classic French food reasonably priced in a warm and friendly atmosphere, subdued lighting makes this traditional bistro very romantic. Our meal cost 117 Euros for a starter, two mains, a dessert, a glass of wine and coke and a bottle of water, not at all bad for Paris.
Come here not because Julia Child did, come here for quite simply, the food, you won’t forget it!
1 rue du Mail
Tel: +33 1 42 60 07 11
Open Monday to Friday 12-2:30pm & 7:00pm to 11pm. All photos and opinions are my own.
Bookings can also be made via this website https://www.thefork.com/restaurant/chez-georges/330365