Les Enfants Perdus, a charming restaurant near Canal St Martin, is neither elegant, nor homey; it nicely fits the gap in between.
Arriving for lunch on a cold, rainy afternoon, I was cheered by a smiling welcome, lustrous woodwork, and an immaculate, old-fashioned tile floor. The animated room boosted my spirits, too. Small, square tables were configured to seat an office group, couples, and solo diners, each, I noticed, at a different point in the meal.
I ordered a bottle of sparkling water, and inhaled the aromas of my neighbors’ dishes, looking for them on the menu.
I decided on the 18 euro, 3 course formule, starting with a vélouté de légumes given depth by slow-roasted root vegetables. Before I had finished my soup, a friend joined me; she was seated with a smile, and presented tout de suite with a menu, followed by a glass of wine. Despite her late arrival, her plat arrived with mine.
My plat was a salmon salad – a deep, oval bowl containing a generous pile of crisp, assorted greens, several warm chunks of seared salmon, and topped with salty leaves of reggiano parm. Mmmm…
The food, I discovered, tasted fresh for a reason: ingredients are delivered twice daily by local commerçants. Nothing is frozen – the restaurant’s only freezer space holds ice cream and sorbet.
After two satisfying courses, I planned to sample my dessert – but the pannecotta with mango sauce was so sweet, creamy and beautifully presented that I finished it.
I indulged in a mid-day coffee, and was glad for the strong, smooth liquid before returning to the raw, mid-winter weather. Les Enfants Perdus – excellent food, friendly service, great value – remains a warm memory of that afternoon.