Memories of Paris in the heart of Geelong.
No it’s not Le Restaurant Jules Verne high in the Eiffel Tower and you don’t need a passport or a long flight to get here.
You don’t even need a window seat. You can sit anywhere and still be transported straight to France.
From the rear carpark, that amazing and colourful mural painted over and around the door invites you in.
Inside, the eye is drawn to the Parisian prints, Eiffel Tower against a brick wall, model of a white Eiffel on the bar, bright flowers in window boxes at the front. Rows of bottles,the busy bar area and in the background, the distinct French accent.
Bistrot St Jean is a gem. On this lunchtime visit, meeting up with my sisters, who travelled from Melbourne, a glass of bubbly – as opposed to a glass of prosecco – is well received. As is the very polite, friendly and accommodating waiter.
I peer into my new birthday Parisian compact with magnifying mirror and wonder why I bothered taking 2 hours putting make-up on when the magnification side makes me look like I’m ready for Halloween.
We catch up together with the latest happenings in the family, kids, new babies, Christmas approaching so quickly, that writing course I’ve booked into, networking functions and how people don’t dress up even while shopping, because they do in Paris.
I had Salade Nicoise which was very nice and healthy and colourful.. but wait..what is that on the side? Slivers of white, like a wilted sardine.Is that what anchovies look like, because they don’t look like that on a pizza. I’m happy to share!
I was once presented with octopus on a plate. Not rings of calamari, in batter, mind you,but a whole sea creature, tentacles and all, looking up at me, as my knife and fork remained shaking in my hands above this visual horror draped over my plate. I just cannot slice into anything with eyes, eyes in a head, looking. I guess that goes for anchovies also.
It’s amazing how the conversations between siblings can quickly home in on subjects best left in the past. Tales of Aunties, eccentric Aunties, their personal habits, our Mother, things we all did – it can scar you for life, those recollections!
To change the subject, we shift to darkest Africa and tales of journeys, on safari with cheetahs, baboons, elephants and dung beetles…hold on…dung beetles? We are dining on fine French fare and discussing how effective a creature a dung beetle is? Well they do have a place in the world. Lucky I’m not having a French ragout or fish soup (as in octopus) because the conversation now deteriorates into a vivid description of food poisoning in Africa whilst on safari which resulted in missing out on the group photo as the victim was as “ weak as a kitten” and severely dehydrated.
It is time to ramp up the experience and attempt to convince the owner to pick up his accordion, which is propped up by the bar, and sing Happy Birthday to moi. This involves asking the waiter on our behalf. He doesn’t appear too confident of success. On a previous visit, I noted the birthday cake with candles carried to a table – with the accordion player in full flight. I want that. If we forgot we were in Paris, that rendition of songs carries us there. “ Do you have a request Madame?” Ah.. something..French..? We got La Vie en Rose a la Edith Piaf, assorted atmospheric ditties, finishing with a rousing rendition of “ Funiculi Funicular” (spell check) isn’t that Italian? It didn’t matter.
It was wonderful, very special and unique.
Lunch in a French bistrot is not complete until you have been hugged by a handsome French chef on your way out.
Where can we do lunch next time?