I took a trip to Paris at the end of July this year and pretty much ate and drank my way around the city. A few restaurants I had booked in advance and a few I stumbled upon. Papillon was recommended to me by Nick Munier and I booked myself in for lunch in advance.
It’s situated on rue Meissonier in the 17th Arrondissement, a short stroll from the Wagram metro stop. Chef Christophe Saintagne who ran the kitchens in Le Meurice (3 Michelin stars at one time) under Alain Ducasse has taken residence in Papillon (Butterfly) which only launched in 2016. It’s a welcoming restaurant with bright yellow chairs outdoors and a gold and blue exterior. Inside its parquet flooring and wooden tables. The sun was shining so I was most certainly dining alfresco. The waiting staff have their own take on hipster with white shirts and braces and the butterfly motif has been worked into the door handles, tableware and clips that hold the menus together.
They offer an a la carte menu and a set lunch menu of two courses for €28 or three courses for €36, the latter of which I went with. My French is pretty much non-existent unless you count ‘Oui’ or ‘Pfff’ so to be honest I didn’t know for certain what I was going to eat. I could make a stab at some of the words but rather than spoil the surprise and ask the waiter to translate for me, I ordered a glass of wine and decided to simply enjoy whatever appeared on my plate. The wine (Riesling) promptly arrived with a silver dish of bread which I eagerly chewed on while watching the world go by.
To start I was served up the spectacular looking plate below. Smoked beef with a variety of field tomatoes. Beef beautifully tender with a rich smokey flavour and the tomatoes had a zing and juiciness to them. The dish was simple and elegant and the presentation was superb.
The second course is something I would not normally ever order. I’ve never really been a fan of salmon. For reasons unknown to me, it always tastes bland. It could be that I was unlucky the handful of times I ordered it previously. I’m going to assume that is the case because I thoroughly enjoyed the grilled salmon at Papillon. Served with green vegetables, coriander, and samphire it was deliciously refreshing and perfect with my glass of Riesling sitting in the sun. Again it was a simple dish which looked incredible and I was surprised by how much I liked it.
We were nearing the end of the lunch service when it came to dessert, which went very much in my favour. Why you may ask? Well, because my wonderful waiter brought out a large dish of chocolate cake and spooned a generous amount onto my plate. As it was the last of the day he came back with a second helping and quite frankly it would have been rude to refuse it. Perfect baked cake with a rich chocolate sauce running through it and served with a lightly spiced (yes I said spiced) ice-cream, chocolate flakes and mint leaves. It was pure indulgence and I struggled to finish it (well the second helping of it).
Lunch in Papillon was flawless. The surrounds were inviting, the sun was shining and the staff were attentive. The food had a simplicity and freshness to it which I thoroughly enjoyed. Had I not been pressed for time, having had lunch, I would certainly of returned for dinner to see what other culinary delights Christophe had up his sleeve. Papillon is certainly on my list of restaurants to revisit on my next trip to Paris.