It's a clever idea -- Dictionnaire des Mots Parfaits -- a compendium of some 50 writers' choices of their perfect words, and what each one means to them. Some entries are just half a page; some are two to three pages. Some are quite winsome, some serious, others are hilarious.
After absorbing all that history, it was definitely time to find a good place to eat. Anchoring one corner of the Place, we spotted Wepler, a classic Parisian brasserie/oyster bar that dates back to the 1920s.
We chose to stay and try it out, and because it was only 8 pm -- early for Parisian diners -- we had a corner of the restaurant almost to ourselves.
The oysters were large, juicy and delicious and this bottle of wine from the Loire Valley was the perfect accompaniment!
No printed menus here, just chalk boards with the daily offerings listed in classic French handwriting. Matthew went for the "Trio d'aubergines siciliennes" for his entrée, followed by a "Côte de veau"...
...whilst I went straight for the "Ravioloni ricotta di Buffalo et épinards"...
...and we shared a "tiramisu" for dessert, so good! We will definitely return. Almost best of all, the squally showers stopped, we walked half a block, and caught the #74 bus that stops almost at our door. Perfect evening!
Dotted around the restaurant, signs from an earlier era still catch your attention. I especially loved this one, politely asking pipe smokers to refrain from spreading their perfumed tobacco around the restaurant...
...and this one, requesting clients -- in the interest of hygiene -- not to feed their dogs in the restaurant, nor to allow the dogs to climb up on the seats!
At the Brasserie Lipp you get an old-fashioned, printed menu, with specialties of the house highlighted in red.
...fish pie for my main dish! I liked the way the slice of toast took on the appearance of a jaunty sail on top of the browned mashed potatoes (lots of potatoes at this restaurant!)
Meanwhile, Matthew opted for the traditional route: a plate of six escargots...
...followed by the top specialty, the "choucroute garnie"! I think he was channeling his friend, Walter Bernstein, who makes a mean "choucroute" himself in his Manhattan kitchen.
I spent most of the evening looking up at the detailed work in the ceilings, the dark French navy blue background and sparkling gold stars.
As well as admiring the restoration work, we were also there to attend a concert given by Richard Galliano, the French "accordeonist extraordinaire", who drew a completely sold out crowd.
And so it's been this past week -- just one mouth-watering experience after another! But, as I mentioned at the beginning, we are also so fortunate in having great resources for home cooking in our little corner of Paris. Yesterday, I went up to the rue du Nil and bought a Dorade (sea bream) from the fishmonger, some local Île-de-France potatoes and a striped zucchini squash from the greengrocer across from him, and voilà, a delicious home cooked supper! As Julia Child would say...