49, rue des Escoles (5)
Classic. By Sorbonne. Clientele like a faculty club. Nothing daring, but never changing. Dependable. Heavy on atmosphere, but not on charm. Except such tradition can be charming. In its own way, that applies here. No motorcycle helmets. At lunch and dinner an older, sedate crowd. Old school waiters serving an old school menu intentionally plain, but quite satisfying. Open Sundays.
Everything positive I experienced at Brasserie Balzar in 3 visits in 2010-2011 has changed as of our 2017 lunch, and none for the better.
Adam Gopnik, first in The New Yorker and then in a chapter of his book on living in Paris famously described the Brasserie Balzar “crisis”, a traditional old school restaurant acquired by a large chain. The staff warned what would follow. They were right.
Service, food, even the clientele is different. And sad. Careless food, promotional leaflets on the table. Inexperienced (and inadequate) staff, absent-minded management.
The worst imagined in Gopnik’s entertaining, but culturally informative piece has come to pass
Good, not special. Reliable. Traditional. Sole, steaks, roast lamb, grilled sausage. Not a food destination as much as a cultural one.
Professional, detached. Not chatty, but neither unfriendly.
(4x) (2010 – 2017)