Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Best Steak Frites in Paris, Bistrot Vivienne

My dad sends me a hand-drawn birthday card every year. This year, he had slipped (most likely unbeknownst to my mom) five crisp £20 notes between the card and a handwritten note that read, "Dear Jaime, Go get yourself a nice birthday dinner ... Dad. p.s. You may invite John too if you like :)". Literally, that's what he wrote. With a smiley face at the end. So I replied to him (without cc'ing my mom, in case he got in trouble for sending CASH in the mail, which you should NEVER do, not to mention how incredibly difficult it is to obtain British bank notes in our small town) and told him that I'd turned his pounds into Euros and that I'd buy us (me and John) a nice dinner when we got to Paris.

And so I did. Or rather, my dad did.

While on the train to Paris, I developed a sudden craving for steak frites, i.e. steak and skinny fries, usually served with Bearnaise sauce. I also very specifically wanted a carafe (not a bottle, not a glass, but a carafe) of house red wine. I also wanted a little bowl of green salad on the side with a simple vinaigrette and oil dressing.

And you know what? My wishes came true: on every count. In searching for a restaurant to eat near my friend Philip's recommendation, we stumbled upon the Galerie Vivienne - a beautiful arcade glittering with Christmas lights and lined with wine shops and restaurants. In it, was Bistrot Vivienne: a buzzing, wonderfully decorated restaurant with friendly staff and steak on the menu. Sold.

We ordered everything I had wanted and our perfectly cooked steaks (rare for John, medium for me) arrived not too long after, along with my precious carafe of red wine and the delicious bread which only the French can do so very well. I think my eyes rolled into the back of my head when I took my first bite. We mopped up the juices on our plates with the bread and smothered our steak with the delicious Bearnaise sauce. The fries were a little on the soggy side, but that didn't matter to me at all, as the main event was so delicious and I was having such a good time. It seemed like the perfect end to a very hectic and tumultuous few weeks for both of us (but mostly John) at work.

As the English lady at the table next to ours paid her bill, I overheard her tell the waiter that she loved the restaurant and made a point to visit it every time she came to Paris. I made a mental note to do the same, but to take my dad as well.

At the end of the meal, I was suitably drunk and deliriously happy with the meal I'd just consumed. I paid the bill, thanked my dad, and stumbled into the night on John's arm, grateful for experiences like the one I'd just had.


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