Behind Laurel building hides French bistro

Restaurant profile

February 10, 2000|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

Woe to the poor Howard County residents who find themselves in the throes of a French cuisine fit.

True, Tersiguel's of Ellicott City will do more than satisfy the urge to indulge in fine country French fare. But a quick trip down U. S. 1 to Laurel will put you at the doorstep of Cafe de Paris. Cafe de Paris is indeed a charming and romantic restaurant, with simple white lace curtains, low, understated lighting and a friendly, yet unobtrusive, wait staff.

It is also in the most unlikely place -- the dreary back side of Laurel Lakes Centre, next to a quiet movie theater. It's a bit of a disconnect to find oneself in such an alluring restaurant after driving in circles around a boring concrete slab of a building in search of a parking space.

Once inside, all concerns disappear. Cafe de Paris opened on Bastille Day (July 14) in 1996, and the menu and decor have hardly changed since.

The food is old-fashioned and comfortingly French, the kind Julia Child used to slave over and rave about before America began insisting that its food be low-fat and no-fun.

Appetizers include house-cured salmon, grilled Portobello mushrooms with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, French onion soup and escargot in garlic-butter sauce.

Entrees are traditional as well. Sauteed trout over mashed potatoes, grilled beef fillet with shallot sauce and pork medallions with garlic mashed potatoes compete with cassoulet with pork loin and duck confit. Toulouse sausage comes with beans, and leg of lamb is served medium rare.

Desserts are easy and delicious: creme caramel, creme brulee and an apple tart, to name a few.

A night out at Cafe de Paris can be expensive, but the fixed price dinner at $26.95 is a bargain for an appetizer, main course and dessert. Diners who arrive before 6 p.m. can receive the same deal for $19.95.

Cafe de Paris

Where: Laurel Lakes Centre, 14262 Baltimore Ave. (U.S. 1), Laurel; 301-490-8111.

Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11: 30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4: 30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 4: 30 p.m. to 10: 30 p.m.; Sundays, 4: 30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Mondays.

Prices: Appetizers, $4.75 to $5.95; entrees, $18.50 to $22.95.

Credit cards: All major credit cards accepted.

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