Yesterday I invited my mom to have lunch with me at Café de Paris, a quaint restaurant in the Lakeview area of downtown Birmingham. I’ve been dying to try out it for years, but for some reason I just haven’t make my way over there. From the outside, it is hard to tell if it’s a fancy restaurant or a more down to earth place type of place. After my visit, I discovered that it’s definitely the latter of the two. It’s very approachable & relaxed on the inside, while still retaining the french elegance you would expect. There is even a faint island feel, reminiscent of the owners’ birth place in the Caribbean.
Our dining experience was very special. There were items on the menu that I rarely see in town like ratatouille, braised cabbage and soufflé. You can even get a 3 coarse meal there for only $10 during Birmingham Restaurant Week, which is what my mom & I did. We both had the french onion soup as an appetizer, which was very traditional with just a touch of what tasted like cream. For our main courses I ordered the seared trout and my mom ordered the grilled chicken. Both were delicious & hearty. The real star of the main course were the sides, with the braised cabbage being my favorite by far with its buttery flavor. After finishing up, I was very concerned about the ability to eat the dessert that was soon to follow… because I was STUFFED. Against better judgement I ordered the bread pudding (a long time fav) and my mom ordered a piece of chocolate cake. Both were very light with a flavorful liqueur sauce. It was a lot to eat for a lunch, but you definitely get your money’s worth!
I will be visiting Café de Paris again very soon, this time to check out their dinner menu. We are so lucky to have this unique approach to french cuisine in town.
Thanks Serge for answering the questions below about your restaurant!
Tell me a little bit about Café de Paris!
I opened Café de Paris with my cousin on December 8, 2008. It’s a true family business since we raised the money ourselves to first open the doors. The biggest challenge for us was to bring a taste of Paris to Birmingham, Alabama. We believe that great things are possible for our restaurant since we believe in ourselves.
Where are you and Evens from?
We are both from the French islands. Our mothers are sisters and come from Guadeloupe (a French Territory in the Caribbean) and my cousin’s father comes from Haiti. My late father came from Gabon (one of the smallest African countries located on the west coast of the continent, between Cameroon, Congo and the Atlantic ocean). Evens and I both grew up in France for 30 years and also traveled the world. We both speak 4 languages.
What are your favorite things on the menu?
I love the Dover, the most outstanding fish for me. My cousin Evens loves the duck breast with his raspberry sauce.
What do you love about Birmingham?
Alabama has bright future, even if people don’t want to believe that. It’s a nice small city with lots of things to do. The downtown area is coming back, new businesses are being built, and people from overseas are starting to invest in the city. It’s becoming a melting pot like the base of big cities like Paris, New York, Chicago and London.
Why did you choose the Lakeview district as your restaurant’s home?
Lakeview is a great place – quiet and simple with a great future. A new shopping center will be open soon, condos are being built and a new restaurant is opening on 7th. We are happy to be here.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We are great believers in that a lot can be done with little. This is just the beginning of Café de Paris. My cousin and I complete each other and our jobs are our passion. To be a good chef you need to fail, but also stand back up again. We are always searching for the best for our customers. We try to dress our food on the plate like a great tailor dresses a top model. We truly love the cuisine.