Brasserie l’Européen (Paris, France)

For our last full meal in Paris, we met up with my brother and sister-in-law one last time for an outing to l’Européen, an impressively large an busy brasserie located directly across the street from Gare de Lyon, one of Paris’ most busy train stations. It also has a reputation for good service, classic French bistro fare, and good seafood.

Going inside, Brasserie l’Européen definitely has the brasserie look down pat: the place is filled with shiny fixtures, neatly-made tables with crisp, white tableclothes, and waitstaff darting about in equally crisp, white aprons, delivering food and wine bottles to tables. Also out front is a rather large and impressive seafood counter, with a member of the staff preparing various fruits de mer. We were promptly welcomed, and escorted to a nice corner table by the front window where we could enjoy some people watching as people were entering and leaving the train station across the street.

Since l’Européen is known for its seafood, that’s how we started the meal, with a nice plate of prawns delivered the to table. These were substantial, meaty prawns (in the US, these would be “colossal” or “U/12” shrimp) served up perfectly poached on a nice bed of ice and lemon, served head-on. A bit of picking and cleaning were required, but these were cooked just to the point of losing translucency, exactly the way I like them: flavorful and rich while still being tender.

Continuing with the seafood theme, my sister-in-law ordered up some scallops, which were served up Provençal-style with broad beans and snap-peas (like many other trips to France, I learned a new culinary term: the French name for these is “poit mange tout”, literally “Eat-all peas”, which is not a bad description). The scallop were as nicely cooked as the prawns: a good solid and crispy sear on each side of the scallop, while having a soft and smooth interior without being rubbery.

For my main course, I indulged in one of my favorites for about the fifth time this trip: a tartare. The French always do a good tartare, and l’Européen was no exception: the beef was tender and well marbled, perfectly minced, and flavored with just enough salt and capers to give it a bit of dimension. I was certainly pleased.

My brother decided to channel his inner carnivore, and went for a rather impressive platter of choucroute garnis: a large platter of sizzling sauerkraut served up with an impressive array of pork loin, bacon, and several sausages, all rather nicely prepared.

And finally Carol did their duck breast, a well-seared and crispy duck breast (slightly tough, but still very flavorful. To be honest: there’s a bit of an art to getting duck breast just right) served up with potatoes and pears.

Finally, dessert: I always rather like a good, well-done European coffee ice cream sundae, and the Liégeois (coffee ice cream sunday with a rich Chantilly whipped cream) was exactly the sort of dessert that was a nice finale to a meal in Paris: rich coffee ice cream, a soft sauce, and some perfectly whipped heavy cream.

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