If you have one chance in your life for a quintessential Parisian lunch, head directly to L’Ecluse François 1er in the 8th. Sink into a rich butterscotch leather banquette, sip a glass of wine or l’eau avec gas, order the lunch special of the day, whatever that may be, and listen to Ray Charles playing softly from the hidden speakers and savor the moment.

The menu features cheeses, a club sandwich, and Parisiene sandwich (simply ham and butter on baguette), and lunch specials that we discovered are deeply satisfying and well balanced, each featuring a protein, a potato, and a vegetable dish. Portion sizes are appropriate for lunch. My salmon was served with perfectly formed round mashed potatoes and buttery snow peas.

White plate with green snow peas, a round mound of mashed potato, a slices of pink poached salmon, and a slice of lemon

The beef was nicely browned and was served with sautéed mushrooms, roasted potatoes, and buttery carrots. When you travel, it’s often hard to find a perfectly balanced meal that’s hearty but not heavy and savory but not over salted. We found that here.

White plastic with carrots, roasted potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and browned steak

If you made other dining plans, at least stop in to drink a glass of champagne at the wine bar and ogle the mural. It tells an amazing story: mustachioed men in boaters, a burly balding man with dreadlocked goatee cradling a monkey, a boat filled with sailors in front of the Arc de Triomphe rescuing a wooden crate of wine from the sea, a harp, a boy playing accordion, and an open bottle of red wine.

Mural depicting a sailor, a monkey, a boy with an accordion, and sailors

The decor is really a delight in which to eat and drink with it’s elegant Prussian blue and black color scheme: black marble table tops, Prussian blue leather barstool chairs and painted walls, black wainscoating, and a gorgeous floral wallpaper accents that reminds me alternately of Victorian botanical prints and a sofa my parents used to have when I was a girl.

We highly recommend this establishment. I promise you’ll be delighted.

L’Ecluse François 1re is located at 64 Rue François 1re, 75008. At the time we were there, it was a cash only wine bar.

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