171, boulevard Du Montparnasse (5)
Every Paris restaurant guide mentions La Closerie Des Lilas in terms of its literary and social history in the heart of Latin Quarter on the Blvd. Montparnasse. Few mention the food, except to note the large outdoor space, and that it is both a white table cloth restaurant and a no-reservations brasserie, with separate menus. At the brasserie, outside in the larger smoking section, the food is fine, but not the draw.
On a beautiful, warm April night, every table full with a steady stream of new guests long past our 10:30 departure. It is the crowd which is unique and a key feature: older, entirely French, chic and good-looking in an artsy and prosperous way. Many regulars. The best spot we have discovered so far to see the paradox of Left Bank Parisian life: a government and economy in painful shape, with great looking, expensively dressed middle-aged couples of intriguing combinations living a full, rich and seemingly untroubled life.
Perfectly good – if you know what you are going for.
Céleri rémoulade and surprisingly delicate quenelles with Nantua sauce; smoked salmon and grilled filet of bass. For dessert: raspberry clafoutis.
Café-like. Friendly, but brusque. Without finesse, in keeping with the crowded, convivial feel of the outdoor terrace.
A la carte. With wine, water and coffee, 133€ for 2.