You haven’t visited Paris until you’ve stumbled home after sunset, tripping over cobblestones and hoping that you’ve hopped onto your metro line going in the right direction. Tonight, after a full day of walking and sightseeing we made use of our reservation at Hugo in the 9 arr. (12 rue papillon). We arrived several minutes early, immediately marking ourselves as tourists. In our defence we didn’t know how long it was going to take us to travel there on the metro and it was also raining with nothing else in the area open.
As tourists to Paris you suffer a mixed bag of treatments. Some places mark you immediately with disdain, while others offer no special attachment and remain aloof. I am starting to feel pretty good about my French ordering skills and so I was happy to find the waitperson at Hugo to be especially attentive and above all patient. He didn’t patronize us or correct us probably because he did know some English but I like to think it was because of my new found skills.
This place is small. It maybe has 12 tables and there is no way you can get in without a reservation. Many people were turned away throughout the night and I was glad I had bothered to email ahead, even if it was only on Monday (I think that was 6 days ago…?) The decor is calming, rustic and right away I saw the sign boards advertising a significant amount of seafood and fish featured on the menu. That seemed to be exactly what I needed after a long day of pain au chocolat and coffee…and I’m not kidding. During the day while sightseeing we barely stop for anything except today we had a double cafe (espresso) and the kids had their customary chocolat chaud. So, when dinner time came around we were all starving. I considered cancelling our reservation and eating somewhere very near our hotel and I am so glad I didn’t. We made the trip on the metro, barely staying awake during the long crowded ride. Luckily it was a quick walk after the metro.
After we were seated I had a look around at the quaint little decor touches in the bistro. They had cleared away a lot of the plaster on the one wall to reveal the original cobbled rock below and then framed it. I thought it was a cute nod to the history of the building which I am sure is long and varied. They also had some beautiful fresh roses in vases on the tables and I took the time throughout the meal to stop and smell the roses.
Over some mushroom/sundried tomato tapenade with baguette, we had a glance at the menu and almost all decided immediately what we wanted to try. For starters, we decided on the goat cheese with almonds, figs and cranberries.
That goat cheese was nothing like I have ever had before. It had a mild flavour but you could still tell it was goat cheese. It went so well with the cranberries and figs but was UNBELIEVABLE WITH THE FRESH STRAWBERRIES! I thought it was the best thing I’ve had here in Paris, so far. We also wanted to try the scallop carpaccio.
Thinly sliced scallops with a well balanced vinaigrette and some fresh herb pesto. On top some red radicchio shaved white asparagus and green onion. There were also these little tiny green pickled bits that looked like mini asparagus shoots and I was curious so I asked what they were. Turned out they were a small succulent called salicorne. Very interesting…
For our mains I had originally wanted the ravioli with white truffle, but both of the kids really wanted to order it. I went with my second preference, the scallop and shrimp with provencale vegetables.
My first bite of scallop was gritty as maybe they had forgotten to wash it. Everything else was amazing. From the provencal vegetables (though I can’t eat zucchini there wasn’t a ton of it so I could still avoid it) to the crispy potatoes and the perfectly cooked seafood this dish was a winner all the way. I managed to wrangle a taste of kid number twos ravioli and I loved then thinness of the pasta and the amazing hit of truffle afterward. It was kind of great how they made the bottoms of the ravioli nice and crispy.
The ravioli also went well with the provencal vegetables. I began to sense a theme going on…the restaurant had managed to figure out how to create a side accompaniment that went with every one of their dishes. Even on hubbies baked swordfish. Oh my word, that fish was so perfectly done and seasoned.
We asked the waitperson to recommend a wine and he described the whites on the list, allowing us to choose to our tastes. We chose a very nicely balanced white that I really could have drank all night…
We were all so happy with our food and on top of everything the portions were enough to satisfy but also leave you wanting to try some of the amazing deserts they had on the menu. Both hubby and kid number two went with the fondant au chocolat with custard ice cream.
They both deemed it better than the previous night’s fondant at Chez Dumonet and that is saying something. Kid number one and I had the tarte aux poires avec caramel butter ice cream. The ice cream was smooth and delicious and the pears were delicious but I was disappointed with the gummy crust. Let me tell you, to be disappointed by one element of this meal was really a stretch.
If you are ever in Paris you simply must visit Hugo. There is absolutely no way you will be disappointed in your visit. If dinner is out of your budget, they offer three levels of lunch, a main plate and desert for 14 Euros, and two other specials of 20 and 25 euros. These make dining at Hugo affordable for most everyone. If I get to plan another trip to Paris I will stay in the 9th arr. just so I can eat at Hugo every night.
12 Rue Papillon, Paris
01 40 22 01 91