A traditional Parisian brasserie that has gained a solid reputation as one of the city's best, Gallopin features classic French cuisine in a stunning turn-of-the-20th-century, Belle Epoque dining room. Prices are moderate, too. This mid-range French restaurant is a good choice when you want to exercise your gourmet muscles and expand your palate-- without breaking your budget.
Why You Might Love It:
- Gallopin serves delicious, simple French brasserie fare at reasonable prices
- The service is excellent and friendly
- The Belle Époque décor throughout the restaurant transports you to a bygone Paris
Why It May Not Be For You:
- The menu isn't especially vegetarian-friendly
- The fixed menus offer only a few choices
- Those who prefer bustle and excitement may find the ambiance here a touch too quiet
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.
The Grands-Boulevards 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 and romantic Parisian dining at its best.
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 from the menu include:
- Steak with braised endives and orange butter
- Roasted fillet of duck with thyme and crushed potatoes
- Nicoise salad with lightly cooked tuna
- 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. 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.
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.
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.
Getting There and Practical Info
The restaurant is centrally located, on the square facing the Bourse (Stock Exchange) and only a few minutes' walk from the Paris Opera Garnier and the Palais Royal.
- 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: See current menus and prices here
- 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
Please Note: While accurate at the time of publication, prices and other details for this restaurant are subject to change at any time.