I mentioned Chez Stella on my list of cheap restaurants, promising a post soon enough, and returned to this small restaurant in the 1st this week. Surrounded by Japanese restaurants, Chez Stella stands out, offering traditional French cooking for bargain prices. There is the 3-course 12€ menu, the 2-course 11€ menu, or a big salad + dessert for 10€ (click to enlarge):
The choices are simple but satisfying. Entrées include classics like a slice of pâté, a hardboiled egg, or an assiette de crudités - grated carrots, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and their take on potato salad (it has green peas). The main dishes include the inevitable steak haché (ground beef patty), the family dinner-friendly rôti de porc (roasted pork), a fully loaded omelette, turkey, and some additional specials that require supplements as well as the plate of the day. You choose your side - rice, french fries, green beans, baked potatoes - and either Stella or her obliging husband/cook will bring it out to you soon enough.
The desserts are Chez Stella's strong point, where the options go far beyond simple renderings of classics: as you walk in you can't help but notice the table on the left, overflowing with all sorts of cakes, pies, puddings, and creams. If Stella likes you she'll even let you choose two! I've had the fromage blanc cake before, which is like a heavier angel food cake, and the crème caramel, but this time the chocolate cake looked so good I couldn't resist. It was a chocoholic's dream, covered in a rich frosting, even though it was unfortunately drowned in crème anglaise (the husband asked "with a little bit of crème?" and I replied "Yes, just a little bit on the side", but I guess we have different understandings of un petit peu).
When you walk into the restaurant you enter Stella's kingdom. Stella is coquette - always perfectly made up, with jewelry and a dress, she presides over the restaurant like the queen that she is. Just because she's queen doesn't mean she forgets about the little people, and you will be well taken care of here. Stopping by to ask you how it is, she'll crack a joke or two if she deems you worthy. Last time I went there was a large dinner party of gay men, and since Stella and her husband were enjoying the home videos that this table was passing around (oh yes, that kind of home video), the entire restaurant got to see them, as Stella made the tour with the man's digital camera, cracking the same jokes at each table and making suggestive (seductive?) faces & gestures to her husband. At the time I thought to myself "Don't bring the parents here!", but this week, both Stella and the clientele seemed to be more serious, and we didn't get to see any dirty videos nor hear any dirty jokes. Her husband was soo friendly as usual, describing our table with flourish as he sat us. Even though we were crammed in the back corner, he tried to be nice about it, "Here you will have a bit of room, it is more calm," and was always smiling and cheerful.
Since it is small, with friendly service and rock-bottom prices, it is always packed and reservations are necessary. I can't recommend it highly enough - this is the best 12€ meal you can have in Paris. Entirely non-smoking.
3, rue Thérèse
01 42 96 22 15
Closed Saturday & Sunday