The traditional brasserie is a prominent fixture in the Paris food scene. Though some, given their location, owe a significant part of their trade to tourists, these restaurants offer classic renditions of French cooking (meat, seafood, or both) and charming décor. The best—those that pay attention to both and maintain the quality of their establishments as well as their cuisine—have a loyal local clientele. Others, well… they are never awful, but given their typical prices, let’s just say I’m often left with the feeling that I’ve overpaid.
We were near Parc Monceau in Paris’ 8th arrondissement a few Sundays ago when we decided to grab lunch on our way to the Musée Jacquemart André. Braving the circling hordes of Sunday joggers, we crossed through the park to eat at Le Valois, a brasserie in existence since 1868.
I can’t really speak to their traditional cuisine because we didn’t order any of it. I didn’t feel like paying over a hundred euros (main dishes started at 25 € per person!) at a restaurant that got decent but not outstanding reviews. Instead, Mme Fromage and I ate… brunch. I was ashamed to do it, but it was too late to go anywhere else, and this was the only thing reasonably priced. She got the Eggs Benedict, I had the same except that I swapped the bacon for smoked salmon. The kids got a properly cooked and totally affordable child’s meal of salmon fillet with fries.
We left room for the cheeseplate though. Not surprisingly, it featured a very traditional selection of French cheeses. There was a piece of camembert, a “fruity” Comté (synonymous with those aged around 12 months), and two slices of the round Sainte-Maure de Touraine, the well-known goat cheese from the Loire Valley. Notably, these were cheeses from Marie Quatrehomme, another of France’s cheese stars and Meilleur Ouvrier de France whose boutique is on the other side of the Seine in the 7th.
Happily, these were very good representations of each type. The dense Sainte-Maure had the recognizable smell of goat’s milk, but its taste was on the lighter side and gave off the enjoyable light warmth in my mouth. The camembert was aged and had an earthy taste of raw milk and the grass or hay that the cows had eaten. Comté rarely does much for me. This was, to my taste buds at least, tasty and well made.
I doubt I’ll be back to Le Valois given its location and prices, but I was pleased that to see that this traditional brasserie had a very respectable plate of cheese from a French master.
Le Valois, 1 Place Rio de Janeiro, 75008 Paris