If you feel that your trip to Paris cannot be complete without sampling frog’s legs or snails then Le Vieux Crapaud (The Old Toad) makes for a great choice. Located a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe it is also a great post-tourist amble lunch or dinner location. Lunch set menu, two courses with coffee is €25, €29 for all three and in the evening €32 for two courses and €38 for the works. So whilst it is not the cheapest, it is still reasonable for what it is and worth checking out if this is the type of French cuisine you are looking for.
There is a lot of hype around this place, as a result we decided it would be best to reserve a table but when we arrived it was not that busy, though as it was only a Monday night this might not be a true representation of the average evening. We were greeted by a very friendly waiter who spoke with us off and on throughout our meal.
The menu (a la carte) contains dishes such as langoustines de Loctudy, moelleux d’Agata (€24, langoustines), Magret de canard fermier des lands aux baie fraîches, purée au four (€24, duck) or grenouilles de mon ami Patrice François en persillade (€34, frogs, a speciality of Patrice François is parsley). For starters there is escargot Helix Pomatia au beurre d’herbes (€11, snails out of their shells in herb butter), moules farcies (€11, mussels), oreilles de cochon croustillantes, salades d’endives a la coriandre (€11, fried pigs’ ears with an endive and coriander salad), or of course a smaller portion of Patrice’s frogs (€17). Dessert was rather uninspiring so we decided to skip over it.
As we wanted to make the most of the experience we decided to try three starters, the escargot, grenouilles and the fried pigs’ ears, in place of a standard meal. Perhaps not a meal for the faint hearted and certainly not a place for vegetarians, but a fascinating experience nonetheless. The advantage of the snails coming without their shells meant we were spared the fiasco of getting them out ourselves and could focus more on eating them, which like most escargot tasted very strongly of butter and herbs. The frogs were very herby, mostly parsley, which was welcomed as frog meat does not have a distinctive flavour on its own. The pigs ears, I must admit were not to my taste, but if you like quite fatty or deep fried food then this is worth a try. It did not have a very complicated taste profile, merely what you would expect, pork, fried and greasy. This was alleviated slightly by the crunchy fresh endive salad. The food was not complicated, but it was good quality and after all if you want to try new foods this is the way to do it, non?
Overall I was content with the experience, the atmosphere was modern and simple, the food was very well done and definitely the best place I can think of in Paris to try out these French delicacies. But if you are looking for a less adventurous meal I would encourage you to look elsewhere.
Address: 16 Rue Lauriston, 75116 Paris
Open: Monday to Friday, 12:00 to 14:30 and 19:00 to 22:30 and Saturday 19:00 to 22:30
Phone: 01 73 75 70 10
Metro: Kleber (M6) and Charles de Gaulle Etoile (M1, 2, 6 and RER A)
They do not have website but they do have facebook, check them out here