La Ferme Saint Simon

January 22, 2007

La Ferme Saint Simon
6, rue de Saint Simon 7e
01 45 48 35 74
http://www.fermestsimon.com 

Twenty-three years ago we were about to spend a few days in Paris with my mother and I came to the question of where to reserve for dinners. Fortunately the issue of the Gault-Millau magazine which had just arrived had an article on the most beautiful good restaurants in Paris. So I reserved at three of them: Le Grand Véfour with its elegant 18th and 19th century painted panels and woodwork; Chiberta, which then had a stunning modern décor: a black background with spotlit pink and white table settings and flowers; and La Ferme Saint Simon whose décor was dominated by paintings of figures formed from fruits and vegetables which gave a warm and appropriate grace to the room. We thoroughly enjoyed its tone and one-star cuisine. Le Grand Véfour still has its three Michelin stars and Chiberta its one star, but the star of La Ferme Saint Simon is long gone, along with the elegance of its ambience. But, for old time’s sake, and because it was next to our hotel; and we could get a last minute reservation, we went for dinner on January 16, 2007.  

The welcome was warm, but we were amazed to find that most of the tables were already occupied at 8:20: unheard of in Paris, especially here in the heart of the chic Saint Germain neighborhood. And almost everyone was well-dressed, without overdoing it. The décor was dowdy. Three of the old paintings were there, scrunched together on one wall, but dominated by a huge exuberantly tasteless rendition of Renoir’s Boating Party with the chef and his wife painted in as the principal characters.

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Our very jolly waiter brought amuse-gueules of a pumpkin cream with a little puff pastry. We considered the 35€ menu, but ordered à la carte and a bottle of Volnay, which they did not have, but the Beaune they suggested instead was nice at the price. Linda started with a little mound of flaked crabmeat with mayonnaise and a chopped salad. I had little deep-fried pastry purses of duck meat with a mâche salad, sliced duck gizzards and parmesan slices. Linda continued with a thick slice of sautéed foie gras with lentils and a sweet biscuit. I had a sliced veal kidney with a macaroni and leek cake. We skipped dessert, but they brought almond cookies. The whole event was only 141 €.

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The food was all traditional with faux-modern features. It was done proficiently with no errors. This is the kind of place one will find in any upscale neighbourhood, although the standards are higher in Paris. They don’t appear in guidebooks because they are so boring. Which is exactly what their old fashioned clientele is looking for: comfort food disguised as haute cuisine. It may be what you are looking for in Paris between starred meals. 

Addendum:

The restaurant was sold in the spring of 2007 and so needs reevaluating, but the convenient location is the same. 

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