Thursday, 24 December 2009

let's get lippy

it's hard to imagine a better christmas eve - unless one involving egyptian cotton sheets, an intelligent woman from bakewell and a large bottle of slip 'n' slide - than enjoying a leisurely lunch at a classic french brasserie, having spent the morning in a museum and with the rest of the afternoon planned to take in at least two of the temples to food for goodies for christmas day.

such was today at brasserie lipp, once a stalwart of alsatian cuisine and now enjoying a renaissance of sorts under the same stable as la coupole, after a few years of (to be kind) less than classic performance.

its location opposite the iconic cafe des deux magots makes it a stop on the tourist trail, but brasserie lipp has always had the solution to that - a ruthless no reservations policy and a pitiless triage of customers into the stylish front of house, the demi-monde of the back room and the outer reaches of the upstairs tables. over the last couple of years, i have gradually been granted tables closer and closer to the front (politeness, speaking french and an interest in the food are all remembered) until today when i was sat in the midst of a french starlet, a bushy-eyedbrowed intellectual and a minor minister...

like every classic brasseries, the food is solid, dependable and good value. a great soupe de poissons, six oysters, a perfectly judged sole meuniere and a good slice of aged cantal made a superb meal, washed down with a kir maison, a very competent white sancerre and a noisette (espresso with a dash of milk).

i left with a smile on the face which, some five hours later, is still solidly there. you can't ask for much more than that from a meal, can you?

oh - the service is exemplary as well. word is that you only join the brigade of waiters on personal recommendation. it's certainly true that they are all consummate professionals that it's a pleasure to watch in action...

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