At Gallopin, Classic French Fare Meets Modern Flair

Fresh, Simple Dishes and Old Paris Ambiance

The main dining area at Brasserie Gallopin.
The main dining area at Brasserie Gallopin. © 2004 Georges Alexandre. Licensed to About.com

A Parisian brasserie that gives tradition a good name, Gallopin features freshly prepared, classic French cuisine in a stunning turn-of-the-20th-century, "Belle Epoque" setting. Prices are moderate, too. This middle-range French restaurant is a good choice when you want to exercise your gourmet muscles and expanding your palate-- without breaking your wallets.

The Lowdown:

Pros:

  • Delicious, simple French brasserie dishes with modern flair
  • Excellent service and friendly wait staff
  • Belle Époque décor transports you to a lost Paris

Cons:

  • Not particularly vegetarian-friendly
  • Fixed menus offer few choices
  • Those who prefer bustle may find ambiance too quiet

Essential Information:

  • Address: 40, Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 2nd arrondissement
  • Metro/RER: Bourse (Line 3) or a ten-minute walk from Opéra (Metro lines 3, 9 ; RER A)
  • Phone: (+33)142 364 538
  • Price range: Set menus from 23-33.50 Euros (approx. $30-$43) ; a la carte 14-70 Euros (approx. $18-$90)
  • Hours: Monday to Sunday, 12:00 p.m to 12:00  a.m.
  • Drink service: Full bar and wine list available
  • Credit cards: All major credit cards accepted

First Impressions:

A French friend recommended Gallopin after I told her I was looking for excellent, yet reasonably-priced, brasserie-style French cuisine. It was a tall order. And I certainly wasn’t expecting any frills, given her promise that it wouldn't be too hard on my budget.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into Gallopin from off of the resolutely grey Place de la Bourse (Stock Market Square), favorite haunt of investment bankers, and found myself transported to an enchanting Paris circa 1900.

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The brasserie was first opened in 1876, and was later renovated for the Universal Exposition of 1900 which drew thousands of international visitors to the city.

Gallopin features a large mahogany bar, brass chandeliers and rails, and, best of all, some of the most remarkable stained-glass murals I have laid eyes on. With their soft pink and yellow hues, the murals cast a warm, dreamy light over the dining room, and open onto a leafy garden. Mirrors situated around the grandiose dining room amplify the effect. This is atmospheric dining at its best.

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The Menu

The delights could have stopped there, but they didn’t. Owners Marie-Laure and Georges Alexandre and Chef Didier Piatek offer up freshly-prepared market ingredients in elegantly presented traditional dishes, adding just a zest of the eclectic and modern to old favorites.

Some examples:

  • Monkfish stuffed with thyme, lemon, and tomato confit
  • Champagne-flambéed beef Châteaubriant with peppers and French fries
  • Roast lamb with pesto and Provencal vegetables
  • Fresh seafood platters

Desserts, all mouth-watering, include Belle Hélène (a poached pear doused in hot chocolate sauce) and French-toast style brioche with salted butter caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Because seasonal ingredients are favored by the kitchen, the menu changes frequently. You can order a la carte, but I recommend the fixed menu for a first visit.

At 33.50 Euros (approx. $43), the full menu includes an appetizer, main course, dessert, and half-bottle of Mouton Cadet (red or white).

Lighter appetites can opt for an appetizer and main course or a main course and dessert, both for 23 Euros (approx. $30).

My Full Review:

After being shown to our table by our gently ironic, but very friendly, server, we started our meal with kirs: a classic aperitif (before-dinner drink) concocted with white wine and black currant syrup.

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Being a seafood lover, I chose the salmon terrine (close to a pâté) with Mimosa eggs as my first course. The salmon is delicately seasoned and melts on the palate.

The main course, red mullet with vegetable lasagna and Provencal pesto, was equally delicious. The mullet, which is close to red snapper, has a more buttery and tender texture, and was very fresh.

The lasagna,  although nothing exceptional, was flavorful enough.

My two companions, ardent carnivores, both reveled in the traditional foie gras and the lacquered pork filet mignon with sweet-potato gratin.

A Sweet Ending

For dessert, I stuck to tradition and ordered bourbon vanilla crème brulée. I was not disappointed. The crème brulée lived up to its ideal form: half-firm, half oozing custard under a perfectly caramelized sugar crust that breaks like thin glass under the spoon.

Read related feature: Best Patisseries (Pastry Shops) in Paris

In short, I'd definitely say that Gallopin is worth reserving an evening (and a hearty appetite) for.

Visit The Official Website

Please Note: While accurate at the time of publication, prices and other details for this restaurant are subject to change at any time.