19, rue de Bréa, in the 6th Arrondissement. 01 43 26 08 06.
Open Tues–Sat, 12 p.m.–2 p.m. and 7 p.m.–11 p.m.
It was a cold, stormy Friday night, and I was just itching for an excuse to get out and play in the snow. A long walk on a winter’s night seemed just the thing, so I got on the phone, hoping that the stormy weather had caused a cancellation at one of the Paris restaurants I’d been wanting to try for weeks. I felt very lucky when la Mercerie Mullot said oui.
Mercerie is the French term for a sewing-goods shop, but the house specialty is seafood and the owner hasn’t missed a stitch with this charming little neighborhood joint. Here, tasteful black-and-white photos of fishermen line the walls, the waiter greets guests by their first names as they come in through the bright blue door and a sea scallop shell of tiny shrimp is served before you even order.
There is a weather-beaten écailleur preparing custom-ordered seafood platters on the sidewalk out front, even as five centimeters of snow coat his broad shoulders, and the owner has two brothers who are fishermen in Brittany, ensuring diners the very best from the sea. Local press claims la Mercerie serves one of the best sole meunières in the city.
My dates and I agreed to share a bouquet of langoustines and a serving of shrimp as a starter. Without even looking at the chalkboard menu, I ordered the sole, which the waiter promptly offered to debone before serving. We also ordered the roast Saint-Pierre and the grilled abalone. The shrimps from our starter were so good that there was some serious negotiating over who ate how many. When the main course arrived, the fish was absolutely perfect. Each dish was served with an array of roasted vegetables, their rich, earthy flavors a welcome counterbalance to the acid of a chilly glass of sauvignon—authentically fresh and light French cuisine at its best.
For dessert we ordered a merveilleux, molten chocolate cake and an apple tart. All three were good, but not one was great, so next time I’ll skip dessert and order another one of the exceptional appetizers. We then ordered coffee, simply for the pleasure of lingering in this warm place on a cold winter’s night.
Price check: Count on 60 to 70 euros per person for a three-course meal with wine.
In a nutshell: This is a friendly, relaxed spot to enjoy exceptional seafood. Pride of place goes to freshness and quality in a refreshingly simple decor, but at 43 euros for the sole, the prices are steep.
If you like the sound of la Mercerie Mullot, you might also like la Table d’Aki. Read the review.
La Table d’Aki
49, rue Vaneau, in the 7th Arrondissement. 01 45 44 43 48.
Open Tues–Fri, lunch and dinner.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking trip, check out our DIY downloadable Paris trips.