An American in Paris: Ralph’s
I get it. Most tourists don’t come to Paris to dig in to classic American eats. You’re in Paris, after all, land of croissants and macarons. But for me, having had the fortunate opportunity to spend a fair deal of time in this city and as a long time expat in another French-speaking town, I feel okay with exploring what Paris has to offer beyond its quintessential cuisine. In fact, I love spending the weekend on a hunt for the best North African eats, or the city’s finest, most-garlicky aubergine-ridden falafels. This past weekend, it was all about America.
And that’s how I ended up in the courtyard of Ralph’s – Ralph Lauren’s year-old restaurant built into his Parisian boutique. The space, as a start, is gorgeous. Yes, it’s a bit of a leather-chair-loving, nautical-themed-waiter-wearing, New England overdose but it’s handsome still. As an expat, I was overcome with nostalgia. I opened up the menu and that feeling doubled. New England clam chowder, tomato gazpacho with grilled cheese, and lobster salad on one side, Mint Juleps, Spiked Lemonade, and Margaritas on the other – how was I in Paris?
Admittedly, I was skeptical and the reviews online I saw weren’t resoundingly positive. But, the moment I was served, it didn’t matter where I was or what I read. It was undoubtedly, unabashedly delicious.
The increasingly infamous Ralph’s Burger, made with hormone-free Angus beef flown in from Lauren’s Colorado ranch, was topped with sweet heirloom tomatoes, butter lettuce, red onion, crisp salty bacon, and artisanal cheddar cheese. Without question, it was among the best I’ve ever had: succulent, juicy, full of flavor, perfectly balanced. (Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame did, after all, consult on the menu.) Still, the cocktails were fresh and addictively good, and the key lime pie for dessert was custardy, airy, and tart. Though I could barely manage it, the homemade “cracker jacks” served as mignardese were just the right combination of salty and sweet.
Quickly I realized, this was not about nostalgia or kitsch; Ralph’s is a solid restaurant serving-up delightful eats of updated American comfort food tweaked with a welcomed European flair. And so begins another American love affair in Paris.
173 boulevard St Germain