Omelets at Café Flore, Paris….DON’T DO IT!
With our train leaving for London in just a few hours, I grasped onto the handrails of Paris with white knuckles reluctant to let go. As I’d expected, my inaugural trip to France was too short, and with my 24-hour stomach bug eliminating three meals from my wish list “places I must eat,” I desperately wanted to squeeze one last breakfast in before we left.
As a diehard Ina Garten fan, I so desperately wanted to experience some of Paris like she and her husband Jeffrey did on any one of their many trips she talks about on her show. I remembered her raving about the omelets at Café Flore in St. Germain de Pres and how she’d never been to Paris without stopping there first. Since she’d been touting it as the best omelet she’d ever had, I figured that would be good enough for me.
So that’s what Jonathan and I did. We made our way the Marais districts across Ile Saint-Louis via the Pont de Sully, through the Latin Quarter to Boulevard Saint-Germain and then down the street to Café Flore.
The 130-year-old restaurant was just like it looked on Ina’s show. Art deco interiors with Thonet bent-wood chairs with thatched seats and backings, lining the corner sidewalks with small round bistro tables just large enough for two coffees and a croissant or two crammed just inches apart. We grabbed a table and ordered two café au laits and “one mushroom omelet si voux plais.”
“You do realize that omelet is $16 dollars?” Jonathan said, defiantly refraining from ordering anything for himself, because he felt it was silly to spend that much on breakfast when he would have been just as happy with a dollar pastry from any of the thousands of bakeries we’d passed earlier. “Besides, I think we make pretty good omelets at home.”
“How often are we in Paris?” I asked rhetorically, “besides, if Ina says it’s good, it’s gonna be friggin fantastic!” I paused to do the Euro to USD conversion in my head and confirmed that my eggs were indeed about $16 USD….YIKES! “How many Café Flore’s do we have in San Francisco?” I asked.
Jonathan rolled his eyes like he always did and took a sip of his coffee. “And the coffee isn’t that good either.”
Then they brought my omelet. I could barely contain myself I was so excited. This is going to be so good I can’t wait…..and then plop, this wrinkly little yellow whoopee cushion looking thing was starting up at me. This is Ina Garten’s favorite omelet, I asked myself. This is what she can’t come to Paris without having?
To save face in front of Jonathan I kept a smile on my face as I took a bite and hoped my eyes were just deceiving me. Nope, it tasted just as bad as it looked. The mushrooms insides were okay, but the eggs were under cooked and runny (and not in a good way), they tasted rubbery, and had very little flavor in general.
For those of you who know me, I usually don’t leave food on my plate. I like to think it’s in honor of all those kids starving in Africa that I don’t waste anything. Even if it’s mediocre I’ll find some excuse, some silver lining, and finish every last bite. The Jew in me was thinking about the $16 USD I was already on the hook for, and every bite I didn’t eat was like $2 USD I was wasting. But I couldn’t do it. It was so bad, I had to walk away.
So we paid our bill and left. Jonathan with the smallest grin of content for being right. And me, with a shattered impression of my TV mom Ina.