My Gay Paree Travel Tips… La Brigout Restaurant

I used to live in Paris and, a Frenchman aside, I picked up a thing or two about the City of Lights during my time there. Here’s one of my favourite restaurants…

La Brigout – 54 rue d’Argout, Paris

Culinary culture clash

It wasn’t the horsemeat. It wasn’t the snails. It wasn’t even the frogs’ legs. No, when it came to French mealtime shockers, it was the discovery that our Continental cousins are in love with Maccy D’s – or McDo as they call it.

Shame on you, France!

In fact, La France is McDonald’s most profitable market outside the USA. But I suppose it kind of makes sense when you think about it – thin-cut fries and a slab of beef isn’t that far removed from a steak haché with frites. Kind of.

The Hambourgeois

The Hambourgeois

Le Big Mac vs the Hambourgeois

What I can’t fathom is why the Frenchies go gaga for Le Big Mac when clearly the world’s best burger is right under their big, wine-sniffing noses. The aptly-named Hambourgeois is a home-grown delight à la française and is, without exception, the tastiest beef’n’bun combo I’ve ever scoffed. Honestly, it’s a death-row meal contender.

To-die-for delicious

So what makes it so God-damn delish? Well, it’s smothered in a gloopy-gorgeous layer of melted Reblochon cheese, not to mention a good helping of caramelised onions and a dollop of mustard-mayo. Topping things off – quite literally – are strips of thin, air-dried beef (because 150 grams of pure minced beef just isn’t enough cow). A monster portion of homemade chunky chips completes this culinary feast-cum-coronary on a plate.

La Brigout Restaurant

The Hambourgeois is the star of the menu at La Brigout – one of my fave restaurants in Paris. You’ll find this dinky little eatery tucked away on rue d’Argout, just a stone’s throw from the hipster hangout that is rue Montorgueil.

Parisian Cute

Parisian Cute

La Brigout

La Brigout

Oh-so French bistro

The place itself is everything a Parisian bistro should be, right down to the cabaret chairs and the intimate candle-lit tables. The whole place reeks of France (in a good way) – much like the baked Camembert which takes pride of place on the list of entrées alongside treats like crab tartare and foie gras.

Ze Menu

Ze Menu

Trad-cool cuisine

Run your finger down the menu and you’ll find more in the way of French fare like pot au feu (a rustic, peasant-y stew) and poulet Basquaise (moist chicken breast with a tomato and red pepper ratatouille). The great thing about the menu is that it’s seasonal so you’ll see things come in and out. If you’re here in the winter, try the wine-rich boeuf bourguignon. For something summery and light, give the pan-fried sea bass a whirl.

Poulet Basquaise

Poulet Basquaise

Puddings and plonk

La Brigout does a mean line in desserts, too. The éclair Paris Brest is airy yet wonderfully creamy while the moelleux au chocolat, with its gooey caramel centre, envelops the tongue faster than it trips off it – try saying moelleux after a couple of glasses of vin rouge. Talking of which, the wine list ticks off everything from Sauvignon through to Sancerre and doesn’t break the bank, with most tipples coming in at the 25-euro mark.

Paris Brest

Paris Brest

Vin Rouge

Vin Rouge

Friendly fellas

No mention of La Brigout would be complete without a word or two about Guillaume and Nicolas – the handsome duo who run this place. Unlike some Parisian establishments, you’ll find no bof shoulder-shrugging attitude here. Instead, these garçons lead a charm offensive, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Maurice Chevalier thanked heaven for little girls.

Brunch-tastic

One last thing. La Brigout has started serving brunch now. Along with eggs and smoked salmon, you’ll find the ultimate hangover cure – yep, you’ve guessed it, the Hambourgeois. Beats a Big Mac any day. Bon appétit folks.

http://labrigout.fr/

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Religion, Discrimination & Percy Pigs

Percy Pigs

Percy Pigs

I Heart Percy Pig

Percy Pigs are my all-time favourite sweets. And, rather interestingly, they’re actually made from pigs. These ridiculously moreish strawberry and raspberry-flavoured gums contain pork gelatine. I guess you could say they do exactly what they say on the tin – or in this instance, the packet.

Anyhow, whenever I pop into Marks & Spencer, a bag of Percies always seems to end up in my shopping. There I am, patiently waiting my turn in the check-out queue and, before I know it, a packet of pink deliciousness has somehow, inexplicably made it into my basket.

‘Next customer please…’

The recent furore regarding M&S and my penchant for Percy Pigs got me thinking. Will I get told to wait for another till if my Percy reflex has kicked in? Now, just in case you’re not up to speed, apparently Marks & Sparks has decreed that any member of staff who is Muslim and does not want to serve customers buying alcohol or pork (and I’m guessing Percy Pigs) can politely refuse to do so.

Bacon

Bacon

Booze & Bacon Embargo

I find Marks & Spencer’s stance beyond ridiculous. To my mind, this is a case of fear of religious upset gone mad. Surely I should be able to go into any M&S store and buy any M&S products on offer and be served by any M&S staff without let or hindrance. I don’t believe that an employee should be able to refuse to serve me because I happen to stick a BLT and a bottle of chianti in my shopping trolley. Particularly when said products are a) legal and b) sold by M&S!

Sainsbury’s & Waitrose Common Sense

Thankfully, some big supermarket chains, like Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, don’t hold with such craziness. They’re of the view that if you take on a job with them, you have to carry it out fully. Unfortunately, some British heavyweights, like ASDA and Morrisons, seem to be happy to propagate this notion of religious intolerance and discrimination in their food halls. Mind you, there’s little chance of me doing my weekly shop in either of those institutions but that’s not the point.

Booze

Booze

No gammon. No gays?

The idea that a staff member can decide not to provide certain customers with a service because of their religious convictions raises other questions. For instance, would it be permissible for someone to refuse to serve a gay couple because the said partnership offends their religious sensibilities? Flip it round on its head and it begs the question can customers refuse to be served by say, a lady wearing a headscarf, because they find some of her religious beliefs and rituals retrograde, medieval and offensive?

CV Stupidity

What’s more, shouldn’t people be a little more savvy when applying for a job? If your religious convictions hinder you from carrying out your role, then shouldn’t you reconsider what it is you’re doing? It’s like a devout Catholic working at a Durex factory and expecting not to have to deal with condoms. Or for a Hindu to rock up at a McDonald’s and point out they have a problem with flipping beef burgers.

Similarly, I would never pitch up for work at a halal or kosher butcher’s shop and then tell my new boss I find the practice of ritual slaughter utterly barbaric and deeply offensive to my moral code and so will not be able to manhandle the goods on sale. I just wouldn’t put myself – or the employer for that matter – in that position.

Pigging Out

So next time you pop into M&S at lunchtime for a sarnie and you hear a clattering sound near the check-outs, that’ll probably be me throwing down my basket and marching out in protest. But you can rest assured that I’ll be looking back forlornly at the pink smiling faces of Percy Pig and co scattered across the floor.