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Last night was a delightful dinner with my Japanese friend Taka and his partner Nick at Restaurant Hélène Darroze, which I  previously enjoyed with Jaime in 2010 and with the Norbauers in 2011. I once again booked for the casual — and less expensive — ground level room but this time that space was fully reserved so we got “bumped up” to the main dining room, for the same price! I don’t know whether I willl be able to afford it at full price, but I did find the atmosphere and overall experience distinctly nicer upstairs!

Nick, me and Taka at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

Nick, me and Taka at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

I didn’t wear a suit jacket at all the past two years so I didn’t even bring one this year. This dinner was the first of two occasions, however, that called for a jacket so I had to buy one. My first thought was to spend $75 on something cheap (and cheap looking) but I changed my mind at the last moment and paid twice as much for this jacket, which looks quite nice even though the material is synthetic.

Without more ado, here’s the food porn!

Appetizer at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

Appetizer at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

Second course at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

Second course at Restaurant Hélène Darroze. Green asparagus, cheese ravioli and morel mushrooms.

Fish course at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

Fish course at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

Dessert at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

Dessert at Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

Each course was rather small but it was one of those meals that nevertheless ended up being quite filling.

While on the subject of food, here’s a nice lunch I had a few days ago by myself at a local place in the 15ème.

IMG_5039 MED IMG_5041 MEDI just went to an unfamilar métro station — Félix Faure — and explored until I found a place that looked plausible and seemed well-patronized by the locals. The service was warm, the atmosphere was characterful and the food was good. I wouldn’t try this without basic French but you don’t need to be fluent to use this strategy to get a taste of authentic French culture.