Balzar & Gopnik

May 13th, 2014 § 0 comments

Brasserie Balzar on the Rue des Ecoles in Paris was (before its takeover by the Flo Group) HG/BSK’s favorite dining spot. Just a sprinkling of tourists. It had a true Parisian ambience. It was patronized by Left Bank publishers, writers, arts and antiques dealers plus many academics from the nearby Sorbonne. Many pretty women. Chic without pretension. The decor and lighting were slightly deco and infinitely comfortable. The waiters were wonderful. True professionals. No servility and no arrogance, collaborators with the diners in creating a delicious experience. The food? Classic, plain spoken French. Roast chicken. Broiled liver. Oysters. Mussels. Skate wing in black butter with capers (HG’s favorite). Choucroute garnie. Tarte tatin with gobs of creme fraiche. Sadly, Balzar is now just a shadow of itself, another soulless Flo brasserie like Coupole, Vaudeville, etc. You can read about efforts to save the old Balzar in Adam Gopnik’s book, Paris to the Moon. In HG’s opinion, this is the best book ever written about Paris and contains many brilliant perceptions about French culture, food, manners, etc. Gopnik has also written a very rewarding book about New York, Through the Children’s Gate–A Home in New York. It’s a wry and knowing view of New York (plus many insights into the rewards and trials of parenting). There’s also a comic masterpiece in the book, a chapter titled, Man Goes To See A Doctor. Its portrait of Gopnik’s psychoanalyst is indelible. Gopnik is a fount of wit and erudition. But, he’s not perfect. Born in Montreal, Gopnik prefers that city’s sweet, honey flavored (feh!!) bagels to New York’s robust bagels, the traditional companions of cream cheese and Nova.


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