Julie’s cousin, Kay, an American who married a (wonderful) French Banker has explained French Culture to us as an iceberg: 10% visible, 90% invisible, as we are learning, so true. Your first step to understanding French culture can be gained by a delicious visit to a tiny restaurant in Paris.
Now, let’s visit Huîtrerie Régis, shall we? We love raw oysters, and we sample them whenever and wherever we can. In my advance planning for our visit to France last fall, I circled Huîtrerie Régis as the one spot I wanted to visit while we were in Paris. Tiny, informal place, no reservations, fresh oysters, great wine. What more could I want?
Our Visit, Seeing the 10%
Sunday was our chance to visit. Julie wasn’t sure she wanted to go as we had been out walking all day; we were tired and she wasn’t sure about a long wait outside. We arrived, and as expected the tables, all six of them, were full. While we waited outside, we shared a bottle of Muscadet to pass the time. It was cool and drizzly, but we were willing to be patient for fresh oysters. After a bit, we were shown our table. There’s not a lot to the restaurant, a tiny serving area with a solitary oyster shucker, and a small area to prep. Still there are lovely decorations on the walls and white tablecloths with proper glassware. While the room is small, the French convention is that conversation is quiet so all may enjoy.
We order what seems to be a popular combination of several dozen Fines de Claires and Spéciales de Claires (oysters), steamed shrimp, and a sea urchin. Julie passed on the sea urchin, but Peter and I were each game to try. The menu is very short, there are no seafood alternatives. You better like oysters! The wine list was equally short, white wines only, all chosen to pair with the oysters. There are three types of oysters to choose from. The oysters? Very briny, even more so than east coast American oysters. But so fresh, and what a treat to wash them down with a tart, mineral Sancerre! Accompanied by a nice baguette with fresh butter, all was well. We ordered a couple of the lone dessert on the menu, apple tart. We had a great time and Julie was so happy she came along. (click on any photo for slideshow, escape to return)
The Rest of the Iceberg
Our evening at Huîtrerie Régis was fun and memorable. I only came to understand more of the story months later. In one of my many cookbook searches at our local library, I happened upon a book named “Meet Paris Oyster”. Of course, I checked it out. Lo and behold, it’s a lovely little book, all about Huîtrerie Régis!
90% Under the Surface
There is so much more to the real story. Régis is a real person. His restaurant is the realization of his dream, and it comes from his heart. Not content to just be another oyster bar in Paris, he strives to create a great restaurant vs. merely good. This also necessarily means it “is not for everyone”. He brings the best oysters in France, grown by his friends. Wines made by friends of his, with Sancerre being his favorite. Bread from his favorite bakery. His favorite artisan butter. And finally, he bakes the lone dessert, an apple tart, himself. He bakes them all personally, every day of the year.
In return, he doesn’t suffer fools. Complain about the wait? You’re likely to wait even longer. Don’t like oysters? Go somewhere else. This is an oyster house. The place is so singular because Régis is so singular. If you come, you’ll be treated to a personally curated dinner of the best oysters, served with humility and pride, and French Culture.
Before Your Next Trip to Paris
If you love oysters, buy a copy of “Meet Paris Oyster“ before your next trip. Used, you can pick it up for $4.00. It’s a small book, and one you’ll read quickly. It’s a charming story full of insight into French culture, oysters, Sancerre, and a man with a restaurant you’ll love. Once you’re read the book, you’ll enjoy your visit to Huîtrerie Régis that much more. Don’t worry about reservations (they don’t take any), just smile, enjoy a glass of wine during your wait, it’s worth it!
Huitrerie Regis ~ Paris
3 Rue Montfaucon – 75006 PARIS – FRANCE
Tél : 01.44.41.10.07