Opened in 1847, the Closerie was a social and culinary magnet for the avant-garde. The famous people who have sat in the "Pleasure Garden of the Lilacs" include Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Ingres, Henry James, Chateaubriand, Picasso, Hemingway, Apollinaire, Lenin and Trotsky (at the chessboard), and Whistler. Today, the crowd consists of tourists or members of the Paris publishing world. The place resounds with the sometimes-loud sounds of a jazz pianist every night after 7pm, making the interior seem more claustrophobic than it is. If you're asked to wait for a table, you can make the wait more enjoyable by ordering the world's best champagne julep at the bar. The cuisine has been improved, offering such dishes as roast turbot with Provençal vegetables or lightly pan-fried king prawns with a saffron-flavored linguine pasta, or perhaps braised sweetbreads of veal with a truffle sauce. You'll be more comfortable here if you realize in advance that there are two distinctly different seating areas inside this place: the crowded and relatively inexpensive brasserie (also known as le bateau, the boat), and the more expensive and nominally more sedate restaurant, where service is a bit more formal and attentive.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010