Old School Brasserie Brilliance

Facing the neoclassical Palais Brongniart on rue Notre Dame des Victoires, Brasserie Gallopin was founded in 1876 by Gustave Gallopin. A renovation in August 2011 restored the oak walls, zinc bar and gilded ceilings of the Belle Epoque dining room and the Philosophers’ Room. Though the first room may appear small, the brasserie stretches into room after room of elegant, postured dining areas lit by ornate chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. For a birthday dinner for a visiting friend, I had planned for us to try the Top Chef treatment at the similarly named Galopin in the 10th, but after some confused Googling we ended up here at Brasserie Gallopin. And we got more than our share of authentic, well-made French dishes.

To open the meal, I had my first taste of escargots, a dish it has taken my entire life to work up the guts (so to speak) to try. After a few moments of Pretty Woman–esque fumbling with snail tongs, I dug the tasty morsels of garlicky goodness out from their shells and discovered a new favorite food. But my companion’s duck foie gras was the star of the table. Light and fresh, the spread on toast was simple, rich and layered in rounds of flavor that ranged from savory to a hint of fruity (I joked that I guessed they’d fed the ducks strawberries).

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