My wife always begged me not to tell any of my "foreign" friends about the place because it was a little-known treasure frequented almost exclusively by locals. Well I pretty much kept my word on that, but unfortunately Woody Allen did not. He (rightly) considered this place central casting's idea of an old-fashioned Parisian bistro and filmed a scene from his recent "Midnight in Paris" at Polidor. (This is the scene where the time-traveling American hero meets Ernest Hemingway over a bottle of red wine.) Since then, the place has gotten into all the guides, features a photo of Woody in the front window, and has been overrun by tourists. I tried to go there last night and was astounded to see a line outside consisting of whole American families in shorts and sandals, with kids no less, couples pushing baby carriages, Japanese tour groups with guidebooks in hand. I stuck my head in and heard no French being spoken. Call me a snob, elitist, misanthrope, whatever, but I won't be going back there. Thanks a lot, Woody! Oh well, I'm headed home soon anyway after a wonderful summer.
Friday, August 19, 2011
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD!
One of my all-time favorite restaurants in Paris has always been Chez Polidor, located in the Latin Quarter near the Luxemberg Gardens. I have been going there since my student days in the 1970s and have been returning ever since. The place was founded in 1828 and looks like it still has its original décor of pitted mirrors, framed prints, antique posters, high ceilings with elaborate moldings. On one wall, there are little drawers for the regulars to keep their personal napkins in. It has red and white checkerd tablecloths, long communal tables and a menu written on a big chalkboard. This is not a nouvelle cuisine or world food place; it features traditonal Parisian bistro fare—snails, beef bourguignon, onion soup, rabbit stew—at reasonable prices.