A voiturier parks Lamborghinis, Bentleys, BMWs, and Ferraris. Slender Parisian women wear Chanel, Dior, Jean-Paul Gautier and Hermes. Young men in cashmere sweaters, sleek pants, and Gucci shoes smoke cigars outside on the sidewalk terrace. This is Café Flandrin, where the most well-heeled Parisians in the most high-end restaurant come to gab, look, and be seen, for Sunday lunch, an afternoon café, and a late evening dinner. Located in the most expensive area of the bourgeois 16th Arrondissement, this is more than just café: it is a regal venue for the BP crowd to sip champagne or Armagnac day or night.
Don’t bother coming here on a budget, and while designer jeans are acceptable athletic wear is not. My family and I showed up during a bike ride, with bike helmets in tow, and we nearly caused a riot daring to show up for lunch in our shorts and t-shirts for white tablecloth dining on a Sunday afternoon. The stares we got from a few patrons were worthy of a snapshot, but the staff in their neatly tailored suits did not care and treated us with appropriate care nonetheless.
There is no “children’s menu”, of course, which means spending 20 or so Euros for a mac n’ cheese copycat (penne with gruyere), and steak and veal are in the 40 Euro range for a dish that is better than standard café fare but nothing exceptional either. The oysters are top quality, as is the langoustine, but it is the desserts that standout: crème brulee, a chocolate ganache cake, and some of the best mousse au chocolat in Paris.
If you want to save a few Euros, come for dessert and coffee for a snack after lunch time, or a croissant and café crème in the morning. It is the people that are truly worth seeing, and if you know French you might be able to sneak a little eavesdropping on interesting conversation, as women gossip about their lovers, men about their mistresses, and families about usual high drama.
Address: 80, av. Henri-Martin
Telephone: 01 45 04 35 69
Métro: Rue de la Pompe