Once upon a time, a small vegetarian restaurant opened on a small street devoted to butchers. The irony couldn’t have escaped them and their growing clientele. Wheat and soy proteins have replaced the ghosts of cows, lamb, and fowl on this alley behind Notre Dame.
I decided to visit Le Grenier de Notre-Dame after reading several reviews on Happy Cow, a vegetarian travel site. The reviews were mixed, so I had a back up plan. Practically next door is Cafe Panis, a sister restaurant to Chez Prosper and Lili et Marcel. I figured I could always grab a great salad at Chez Panis if Le Grenier did not pass muster. I can wait on Cafe Panis, Le Grenier was a great restaurant that served unique vegetarian food.
I’ve traveled to many countries and always enjoy vegetarian alternatives to local dishes. Soyrizo at Ranchos in San Diego, curry vegetable popovers in London, Mock duck in thai restaurants, vegetarian Ghoulash,… I couldn’t pass up the vegetarian cassoulet for dinner. I didn’t know what to expect. It must have white beans and baked with tomatoes and bread crumbs. But what else will replace the fat and meat normally found in a cassoulet?
The dish was a filling, baked vegetable dish with two types of protein: tofu and seitan (a wheat based protein). It also had tomatoes, peppers, and lots of white beans. I have to admit the seitan was a bit strange for me. It’s the first time I have tried this tofu alternative. I would have prefered something a bit more substantial in the mix, such as roasted brussel sprouts or potato. But, alas, the dish was exactly what I had hoped for: a stick to your ribs, filling, novel dish that stands out from the week of salads and cheese sandwiches that somehow find their way into too many meals.
I also had the vegetable soup as an entree. This was also a hearty soup with strong vegetable flavors and a unique topper. I couldn’t quite place the vegetable floating on the top of the soup. It reminded me of baby carrot greens. The soup was also served with a dense whole-grain bread.
The couple next to me were in Paris to celebrate their engagement. They too had found the restaurant via reviews at Happy Cow. Their meal started with an avacado dish that looked surprisingly unique to someone that grew up in Avocado country. The avocado skins were re-used as containers for a blend of avocado, tomato, and yogurt. They were quite pleased with the dish.
I wouldn’t rate this too high for your Meat Eating Friends. They’ll be impressed by the selection of vegetarian dishes, but not the taste of seitan. It’ll probably make them think twice before trying another of your recommendations.
It should be noted that Le Grenier is a small, tight restaurant. Enjoy the company next to, behind, and in front of you. The service is very fast and courteous. Reservations would be helpful during busy periods.
I skipped the dessert, but they have the traditional items: chocolate mousse, fromage blanc, fruit tarts, etc. They also feature normal coffee and a decaf coffee-alternative. Personally, I’d suggest going next door to Cafe Panis and try their tarte chocolate with creme anglais or the berry crumble. I’ve eaten more than my share of these dishes at their sister restaurants. You are also just around the corner from the Berthillon ice-cream store. just look for the line of people in a small street of Isle St. Louis. Berthillon ice-cream is worth the hype and there’s nothing like buying it from the source.
- Le Grenier de Notre-Dame
- 18, Rue de la Bûcherie (5°)
- 01 43 29 98 29
- St-Michel, Cite
- Vegetarian Restaurant