Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
The Cremerie-Restaurant Polidor has been a Parisian institution since 1845. It’s been featured in its fair share of travel guides, blogs, and even the movie, Midnight in Paris. Since it’s renown as a good place to eat on a budget, I knew it would be friendly to my significantly thinner student’s wallet, so I headed there after a movie one Sunday.
The Odeon neighbourhood in the 6th Arrondissement where Polidor is located was deserted that Sunday afternoon, so I doubted that I would find it open. Much to my surprise, it was not only open, but also packed. We managed to snag a table in the back, next to the sign that proudly proclaimed that Polidor has not been accepting credit cards since 1845. The wooden tables are covered with red-and-white-checked table cloths and packed with an eclectic crowd ranging from students and professors to families with little children. We learn later that this is a favourite hangout of the students from the nearby University of Paris. A giant chest of tiny drawers stands imposingly on one end of the dining hall, covered with bottles of wine and stacks of copper pots. The lighting is dim and the conversation is loud. I doubt the decor has changed much since the times when Hemingway, Joyce and Kerouac used to frequent the premises, which only reinforces its old-world charm.
The menu is packed with traditional French favourites like boeuf bourguignon and confit de canard (duck confit). I go with a more daring option, beef tongue in a spicy sauce while my partner goes for the duck. The dishes are simple, with a lone lettuce leaf under my meat serving as a nod to making the dish look presentable. The tongue is smothered in a spicy red sauce, and accompanied by a healthy mound of mashed potatoes. I dig in, savouring the perfectly cooked, chewy and springy texture of my meat. The large portion of duck is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and before long, we have cleaned our plates.
We split a dessert between the two of us, deciding to go with the blackcurrant pudding, just to try something new, although the tarte tatin (apple pie) here has had rave reviews. The pudding turns out to be a slab of mousse on a bed of blackcurrant sauce. The tartness and light texture of the mousse is in perfect counterpoint to the sweet sauce.
The bill came up to 17 Euros per person, which doesn’t make it one of the cheapest places to eat in Paris. However, for the quality of the food, it’s definitely value for money. And just sitting in this restaurant, where such famous personages used to eat the same dishes I am eating now, was a special experience indeed.
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