Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Cheap Eats: La Muraille du Phenix
It's an unfathomable thought: a three-course meal in Paris for 6€? A three-course meal anywhere for 6€? It just couldn't be possible! But when heard whispers of the incredible deal available at La Muraille du Phenix, I knew I had to try it for myself. And, it turns out, this may be the cheapest meal in Paris.
First of all, be careful: a quick Google search before I left the house gave me the wrong address for this little Chinese restaurant in the 5e arrondissement - it's at 179 rue Saint-Jacques, and consumes the inside of a building with an ornate and tucked red exterior.
But once you get inside, you're part of the family. The exceedingly smiley waiters called me and my friend "Miss Canada" and "Miss Etats-Unis" though we're both American and guided us to one of the squeeze-in seats along the wall. The interior, delicate and decorative, was a beautiful and warm space to welcome us. As we perused the vast menu, my friend and I kept marvelling at the crazy cheap prices. You can order à la carte (with dishes starting at 2€) or go for a formule. The cheapest formule is 6€ for three courses, but you could splurge and get the 8,70€ menu (which comes with a pichet of wine), if you're feeling totally crazy.
I got the spring roll appetizer while my friend got the Chinese chicken salad and both were pretty delicious. Next we both got the Thai-style curry chicken, which wasn't as spicy as I'd prefer, but was still good, and we finished with almond cakes for dessert. Most shockingly, the house wine - served at 2,70€ per half bottle - was actually delicious.
I'll admit that this isn't a Michelin-starred restaurant or anything - if you're wanting a fancy dinner, better make reservations elsewhere - but our experience at La Muraille du Phenix was yummy, fresh, not as greasy and heavy-feeling as Chinese food tends to be, and was certainly more bang for the buck than I've ever had in Paris (or maybe anywhere). This is the kind of place that charges based on the cost of ingredients, not what the price of the neighborhood dictates. I looked around at the packed restaurant full of convivial, happy, well-fed customers and knew that if I lived in this 'hood, I'd be eating at La Muraille du Phenix every week (if only to slowly make my way through their extensive menu).
La Muraille du Phenix
179 rue Saint-Jacques 70005 Paris
Métro: M10 to Cluny-La Sorbonne