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On the way to Gare du Nord (a train station) to catch our Eurostar train back to London we had about an hour to kill and were hungry so we ducked into this restaurant at Grands Boulevards - 24 des Italiens literally just down the street from the train station.

It was probably 3:15 in the afternoon and we were the only customers in the place.  We knew nothing about this restaurant but as it turns out, we had stumbled into a really great place.  The atmosphere was interesting and when I saw lobster bisque on the menu and ordered it, I wasn't expecting much.  What I got was a huge portion of bisque in an earthen bowl and on a scale of 1 to 10, this bisque was a 30!  It was piping hot, rich and loaded with specks of lobster.

My wife had just ordered a salad but when she saw and sampled my bisque, she had to have her own bowl.  And who could blame her.

For my main course I had a lovely chicken dish with an interesting sauce and some potatoes with a creamy sauce.  They had been popped under the broiler at the last second and were golden brown.  And talk about rich!  Lots of butter and cream.

My wife was full from the bisque and salad so she did not have a main course.  We charged the meal but when the bill came, the waiter had already totaled it.  We only had a few French francs left at the time (this was before the Euro came into play) and tried to explain that the tip would be small unless there was an ATM machine nearby, which there wasn't.  He spoke very little English but you know what?  Despite what you have heard about the French and what we have experienced in person, he could not have been any more pleasant. He actually walked us to the door and waived us a hearty goodbye even though we only had a few francs to leave on the table.

If you're ever near the Gare du Nord and want a good and affordable meal, give La Taverne a shot.   I'm glad we found the place!