After a boring Saturday in Enghien-les-Bains, bedded down and getting our tummies back to normal, we headed to the Palace of Versailles on Sunday. For lunch, we eased in our stomachs with doughy and insipid sandwiches and a dry chocolate financier that made me question my life choices. Given the indescribable beauty of where we were, we found the food options available at the palace to be surprisingly lacklustre, and as bad as Paris’ messy transport system that creaked and limped us there over an hour late.
After a much smoother return trip to Gare du Nord, we walked out onto the streets of the Xe arrondissement famished, beaten down by Saturday’s diet of water and bananas and walking over twenty thousand steps around Versailles. The European spotted a nice looking bistrot opposite the station, and, for lack of other visible choices and a complete inability to walk any more, we went in.
Terminus Nord offered us an experience that, though it may not be perfect in the grand scheme of what’s on offer like this in Paris, it was for us, in that singular moment of hunger, tiredness, bug-induced wariness of eating anything controversial, and ‘last night in Paris’ vibes. For starters, by sheer luck we got the best seat in the house, a little corner table in Nord’s glass-walled front room, the comfy leather bench giving us a panoramic view of Place Napoléon III where we could watch the world go by. Inside, the restaurant was stunning. Black and white tiled floors, wood panelled walls, art deco fittings, smart suited waiters and tables draped in linen meant that our final mean in Paris was beautifully on theme.
Unlike Aux Crus de Bourgogne, Terminus Nord is very touristy. Being mere steps from one of Paris’ largest stations, it’s inevitably going to attract everyone, including this pair of tourists here. That said, the menu was surprisingly simple and seemed to opt for quality over quantity.
Craving stodge, I got stuck. It was a toss-up between fish and chips and some sort of ham and egg dish. The European, feeling a little fragile, went for a bowl of classic French onion soup and a hot Cabécou cheese salad with ham. I had a beer, she had water. My Grimbergen abbey beer was dark, peaty, and heavy. It was a mistake. It made my strained stomach audibly cry for help.
The food, on the other hand, was a revelation. The European’s French onion soup was exactly how this dish should be: earthy, rich, swampy with cut onion, and crusted with bread and more cheese than is reasonable. Even the salad, graced with slabs of toasted baguette slathered in creamy Cabécou goat’s cheese and draped in ham, was wonderful. Having taken the gamble on the ham and egg thing, ominously called a ‘North Welsh’, I was delighted. I was presented with a baked dish of thick, seasoned gammon, bread, a thick mattress of cheese, topped with a perfectly fried egg and a side of fries. Imagine, if you will, a cross between a croque madame and a lasagne. I was in heaven. For my recovering tummy, this was exactly what I needed.
We skipped dessert and settled the very reasonable bill. What a final meal in the city. Ultimately, we ate out twice in our three and a half days in town. Aux Crus de Bourgogne was amazing, and, although we will certainly return, the notion of immediately going back, given how our minds reflexively reel at the thought their food might have been the reason for our malaise, meant that this weekend, it played second fiddle to Terminus Nord, unassuming on the outside, and majestic in all ways, within. Though Paris next year might be skipped in favour of a long overdue trip to Budapest, we will certainly make plans to return to Terminus Nord, for no other reason than to have a full-on meal and see how good the rest of the menu can be. But only if we get the same table.
Visited on 19th February 2023.
A beer, two starters, and a main course came to around €forty.