Brunch. What does this word mean to you? For most people it means lie-ins at the weekend with pancakes for breakfast or perhaps a bacon sandwich or eggs benedict. You could go all out and get a full English breakfast; having lived in Paris for nearly 6 months I would advise you to DO IT. As much as I love the French cuisine there is something about a full English breakfast that is so satisfying and I can hear it crying out to me on weekend mornings when I’m tucking into my baguette.
In Paris they have taken the word “brunch” and decided to give it a new meaning. Who knows why. Just for funsies I guess. The outcome is a meal that seems to combine lunch and dinner into one and this one meal can usually only be eaten on a Sunday. It’s the rules. Brunch on a Saturday just does not work. I have become a big fan of the Parisian brunch but being British I cannot get the idea out of my head that it should be a breakfast affair and so I therefore tend to opt for a midday brunch rather than a 3pm one. This most definitely has its perks as places tend to fill up as the afternoon goes on. I would say there are two main types of brunch: the buffet brunch and the set menu brunch. I have tried both and now it is my chance to give you a little insight into the world of Parisian Sundays –
Twinkie Breakfasts is a bit out of the ordinary in terms of brunch as it serves it all day every day. Very unusual! It is here at Twinkie’s that you can opt for the set menu type brunch. Options offered include: English (not a proper cooked breakfast with all the grease sadly), American, French, Norwegian…. The menu tends to include a selection of breads with nutella, jam and a marmalade, a fresh juice, coffee and hot dish. Every option is €22 unless you opt for a bagel or poached eggs off of the menu.
When I went I chose the Norwegian breakfast which consisted of all the norms plus eggs benedict/royale. I’m sure eggs benedict originates from America though which puzzles me greatly… I wasn’t convinced by the marmalade we were given which was courgette, tomato and cucumber if I remember correctly. Slightly too far on the side of odd. The eggs benedict was delicious however and I was in heaven when handed an extremely large cup of coffee. The French aren’t big fans of large coffees so even ordering a white coffee over here is disappointing when you get handed a cup that is half full. The mugs at Twinkie Breakfasts however are the real deal. AND we got a free refill. Excellent news!
So the first time was a hit. However the second time was a let down. I had already eaten breakfast so chose a simple dish of poached eggs. Well, they don’t mess around when they state that it is simply poached eggs do they! Out came a bowl with 2 poached eggs in and a slice of bread on the side. Well, I’m glad I paid €8 for that… I could probably buy the chicken and have a year long’s supply of eggs for that price. I went with some friends who are coeliacs and their breakfasts were just as disappointing: 2 boiled eggs, some sheep cheese in a bowl and some lamb’s lettuce in another bowl. Not €22 worth of food right there. So if you’re going to go to this café then try to tactically choose the largest dish among the set menus otherwise you’ll be disappointed.
Les Parigots is where I was able to try a buffet style brunch and my goodness am I a fan! The buffet brunch here is also €22 but I think you get so much more for your money. The set menu consists of scrambled eggs, a hot dish of the day, a salad buffet and dessert buffet. The first time I came here I ended up staying for nearly 4 hours as I was determined to get the most out of my pennies! The salad bar is fantastic with salads ranging from chicory + blue cheese to whelks to cured meats and there is also an amazing cheese board to sample. The dessert buffet is a selection of bite-size (if you have a very large mouth) cakes, crepes, fruit and yoghurt.
I have been here twice now and the first time the hot dish on offer was a kind of lamb tagine with couscous which went down extremely well. The second time was a lamb chop served with an assortment of roasted veg. When I heard it was lamb chop for the main meal I was so disappointed but actually it was so well cooked and tender that I could’ve eaten about 4 of them!
You have to be careful with a buffet lunch because you need to pace yourself. It is a game of skill. I go in for the salads first, then a bit of scrambled egg, then eat the main, on to the cheese, on to the dessert and you’re good to not eat for the rest of the day! This place is definitely excellent value for money but be careful when buying drinks as this is where they seem to reap their profit. So no huge mugs of coffee available at this place sadly. That is a minor detail though as you could get a carafe of water and eat extremely well all for the grand sum of €22.
Having tried out both options, they both have their perks and for me it just depends what mood I’m in. I do tend to be feeling more on the greedy side of life though so the buffet brunch gets my seal of approval more often than not!