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Billions of Blistering Barnacles

What qualities are hardest to find in Parisian restaurants? Reasonable prices. Service with a smile. Flexible opening hours. Chez Casimir has them all—and they serve brunch! You’ll think you’re in America. Until you taste the food, that is. Vive la France!

In fact I’m talking about two places: the side-by-side Chez Michel and Chez Casimir, both run by chef Thierry Breton, formerly of the Crillon and Le Régalade, and originally hailing from (guess where) Bretagne. Hence the barnacles. Ok, not quite barnacles. But at these two fantastic Breton bistros, if it swims in the sea and it’s delicious, they’ll serve it (with a smile, and then undercharge you).

A few minutes walk from the Gare du Nord is the attractive church of St Vincent de Paul looking over the Place Franz Liszt. Hidden just behind are Breton’s bistros, where he practises a form of resolutely reasonable pricing but unreasonably tasty cooking.

Chez Michel is the finer restaurant, and the more Breton of the two, but even here the basic menu is €30 for a fantastic three course lunch. Expect to see dishes with Breton names and expect to have to ask what they are (Kig Ha Fars?). You can ski hors-piste and add dishes for up to €25 or so more (each). But there’s no strict need to do so, unless it’s hunting season, when the menu is a cornucopia of wild birds and beasts you wouldn’t recognise alive let alone plucked, cooked and plated.

Chez Casimir is perhaps more surprising. The food is fantastic and the prices even lower: €22 for lunch and €29 for dinner. There’s a little less focus on seafood; dishes are slightly less elaborate. It’s a personal favourite for dinner. If you’re wondering why, find me another place in Paris with a three course dinner for under €30 AND a cheese plate like the one pictured. Mmmmmfromage.

But the main event is Le Sunday Brunch. I’m hiding it at the bottom of the article hoping no one’s reading this far. It bears more resemblance to what I imagine Poseidon’s wedding banquet would look like, than to any brunch I’ve had before. Plates of oysters crown a ramshackle spread (pictured) of snails, salmon, crab, salads, cheese, pâtés… As you eat, they bring you hot plates: langoustines, brandade, omelette, veal. For €25. I’m not kidding. And if that’s not enough, wines are sold at prix cavistes (i.e. 30% off). Wander into the cellar, pick your bottle, uncork it, and pour away. This is like the best of France, without all the worst bits. I really hope it’s a vision of the future.

If you’re still reading this (which Jack sincerely hopes you are not), and perhaps salivating a little on your keyboard (stop that, the keys will stick), you should get in touch, and get started on your Parisian plans.

It bears more resemblance to what I imagine Poseidon's wedding banquet would look like, than to any brunch I've had before.

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