Le Champ de Mars

I had my first taste of escargot when I was a child of nine or ten. My parents would order it every time we dined at a particular restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, which we frequented on special occasions, and one day, my curiosity became stronger than my disgust at the fact that they were eating snails, and I asked to have a try.

I remember taking a tentative bite, still slightly unsure about the wobbly, brown blob on my little fork. The first taste that hit me was one of garlic. And then the buttery-warmth began to spread. The texture was interesting, both chewy and succulent, and as I really got into it, I found I couldn't stop! I was hooked. Over the years I've tried it cooked in a variety of ways, plain with just some oil and herbs, covered in baked cheese, but my favorite has remained the style of the first escargots I ever had - drenched in butter and garlic.

I have to admit that the main reason I walked into Le Champ de Mars in Paris was because the word 'escargots' caught my eye on the menu as I was ambling by. It was a minor bonus that the restaurant is located only a block away from the Eiffel Tower where I'd just been after four hours of walking that morning, and I was desperate for a place to rest and recharge.

The menu is in French with English translations beneath each item, which tells me that this is a restaurant frequented by tourists. I was initially worried that this may mean the food would not be authentically French, but I was still taken with the charm of the interior, the spacious and inviting room with its wooden tables and red chairs, and the very Parisian outdoor seating, which allows you to people-watch without any shame.

The menu had a mix of French fare like Duck Confit/Canard, Beef Stew, Foie Gras, Steak Frites, and yes, Ercargots, with a sprinkling of more 'international' options like pastas, sausages and cheeseburgers. My food arrived quickly, and did not disappoint. The escargots were little treats, bursting in garlicky, buttery and herbaceous flavors, just how I like them, and I appreciated the basket of sliced baguettes that came with it, perfect for soaking up the leftover sauce.

I had the Veal Escalope for my mains, which was a generous portion that came with a side of salad, homemade French fries and drenched in a delicious mushroom sauce. It was simple, hearty fare, but extremely tasty and comforting on a cold day. The veal was seared to a nice crispness on the edges, leaving the middle soft and tender, and they definitely did not skimp on sauce! The french fries also deserve special mention here - light, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and non-greasy or oily, I ate almost every morsel on my plate. 

I had my meal with a glass of Sancerre, and the fruitiness and acidity of the Sauvignan Blanc cut through the heaviness of my meal and made for an enjoyable and fresh pairing. 

If you're ever in the area, check out Le Champ de Mars. The service was friendly and efficient (they even unplugged a lamp for me so I could charge my phone), the atmosphere charming, and the food (what I had anyway) was great.

Le Champ de Mars
45 Avenue de la Bourdonnais
Paris, France


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