March 21, 2006
Before circling the island to delight in the exquisite architecture along the quais, absorb some history, and spectacular views, we paused for refreshment under the cheery cherry-red canopy of the Brasserie de l'Île St-Louis.Early morning at Brasserie de l'Île St-LouisI peeked inside the door and saw a well-worn wood grained bar, decorated with mounted animal heads and painted Alsatian folk-art. It looked as though little about the decor had changed in 50 years, yet the patina was not unattractive The cozy dining area, with wood-paneled walls, looked to be filled with a mix of tourists and locals enjoying lunches that emanated amazing aromas. But because I don’t like dead animals staring sadly at me while I dine, my companion and I opted for the large covered heated terrace.View to the bridge with the gypsy curse
The terrace not only afforded us a view of the Passerelle St-Louis, and the buttressed end of Notre-Dame beyond, but a look at the sight of a local legend. While we waited, my companion, a Paris resident for 30 years, related the gypsy legend of Passerelle St. Louis (formerly Pont Rouge). In the 17th century the Parisian authorities arrested an innocent young gypsy woman for several thefts committed near the bridge. She would not confess to the crimes of which she was innocent, and was tortured to death. Her grief-stricken mother placed a curse on the newly erected bridge so it would collapse. And collapsed it has, seven times in fact. The present bridge dates only from 1970.The calm efficiency of our waiter
Soon we had our plates of choucroute and cassoulet, a basket of bread, and glasses of house red wine to take the chill out of the rainy day. Choucroute is an Alsatian dish of sausage, pork, potatoes, and sauerkraut, served with spicy Maille mustard. My friend seemed to enjoy every single bite of it. My cassoulet was flavorful and rich which only comes from slow-cooking and the right combination of ingredients. Each chef has very strong opinions about what makes the best one, the type and amount of white beans, the right meat combination, tomato, no tomatoes, seasonings, from what our waiter relayed, the list is truly endless. Whatever his recipe, my meal was delicious and I appreciated that it came with a lovely green salad dressed in a tangy vinaigrette that balanced that richness of the cassoulet.cassouletOur bill for lunch was under €15.00 each, including a glass of house red wine and coffee.This brasserie is closed Wednesday, but is one of the few restos open on Sunday, when there are very few decent places to eat in Paris.They are closed the entire month of August.No reservations, credit cards accepted.
From journal Paris-Île St-Louis: Part One - My Private Island