Parisian Salad - Le Relais de Comptoir
by Lisa Michaux, Tastemaker in Residence
Continuing in our series in honor of National Salad Month, we move to Le Comptoir. Located not far from Les Deux Magots (our topic last week), Le Comptoir is a much smaller café, but with an equally fabulous location in the center of the 6th arrondissement. Traditional French meals are heavy on the meat and I am always in search of the elusive vegetable in Paris. Le Comptoir has my favorite salad of fresh seasonal veggies, so you will often find me crammed onto their terrace happily getting my daily allotment.
Much has been written about Chef Yves Camdeborde and his extraordinary work at Le Comptoir, but I’m there for the veggies and the view. As you can see from my photo, I enjoyed a beautiful plate of fresh beets, broccoli, capers, olives, onions, peppers, and haricots verts—delicious! You can also see the fabulous crusty brown bread and a glass of rosé and barely any room to do my French homework. Oh well, first things first ;)
You may also notice a bottle of tap water at the edge of the table. Paris water is fine to drink; in fact the city markets it as Parisian Grand Cru much like a vineyard would a fine wine. Rather than spend money on a bottle of Evian, I just order a carafe d’eau. Hydrated travelers are happy travelers!!
There are a few things you should be prepared for if you are a novice to Parisian café culture. Be ready to get up close and personal with your neighbor. This can be fun—I’ve met some wonderful dining companion this way!! Tables are small and seats are placed close together. Tourists with backpacks and layers need to compact and deflate a bit, and Midwesterners need to get comfortable being this close to strangers. Also, the terrace is the smoking section. Get used to it or sit inside. Where, incidentally, the smoke will waft in and leave you wishing you were at least out in the sun.
When available, sit next to your partner, rather than across from them. This is the Parisian way and allows you to watch the theater of the street together. As much as sitting on the terrace is Parisian, examining it and commenting on it are integral to the experience.
9 carrefour d’Odeon