Le Zerda Cafe: the number one by Le Figaro

In the quest of finding the best couscous and tajine of Paris, we visited the restaurant listed as the number one in Le Figaro‘s Best Couscous of Paris list –Le Zerda Cafe.

Le Zerda Cafe is located in a lovely pedestrian street called rue René Boulanger in one of the nicest parts of the 10th arrondissement. When we had called in advance for the reservation the terrace was full, but upon arrival we got a table outside after a five-minute wait. The street was lively, the weather was hot, and the night was perfect for people watching and exploring a new restaurant.

Open the door and enter the world of North African food.

Open the door and enter the world of North African food.

We ordered “the usual”: couscous for my husband and tajine for me. I am not a big fan of semolina (made of wheat) so tajine with meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts suits me perfectly. (Note: Le Zerda Cafe, as many other North African restaurants, is happy to serve semolina also to those ordering tajine, so do not hesitate to ask for it!)

My husband’s Couscous Zerda arrived with fabulously fine semolina, hearty vegetable stew and a mix meat plate of lamb, beef, meat balls and merguez (spicy sausage). He thought that the merguez and meat balls were a bit tasteless, but he liked very much the lamb served on a brochette and grilled lamb.

My tajine included a lamb shank with pears, almonds, dried apricots and plums.  The dish had a balanced taste (not too sweet) and I also liked the fact that there were no potatoes added (commonly served with tajines). Unfortunately the lamb shank (souris d’agneau) was not the best piece of lamb I have eaten as it was rather greasy. I kept giving pieces of my lamb to my husband who in exchange made me taste his meats.

Is there anything better than the arrival of boiling hot tajine on the table?

Is there anything better than the arrival of boiling hot tajine on the table?

To wash all this food down we drunk Algerian red wine Chateau Beni Chougrane from the Mascara region, which was a lovely choice even on a hot summer evening. As I have mentioned before, most North African reds make me very tired. My theory is that these grapes have been absorbing a lot of African sun, making them a good remedy for falling asleep –the same effect spending an entire day under the sun can have on you!

We had a lovely evening, the service was friendly and the food very good, but somehow we had been expecting more. After all, we were visiting the number one couscous restaurant of Paris (according to Le Figaro), so we had all the reasons to expect something out of ordinary! Unfortunately I guess this is a common problem: when something is so highly praised, your expectations grow out of proportion. This is why listings are bad….

This said, I am sure we will return to Le Zerda Cafe. As one of the oldest Algerian restaurants in Paris, it is a real institution and its dining hall very picturesque. To me it looked like the most perfect place to warm the bones up during the long Parisian winter!

Le Zerda Cafe: 15, rue René Boulanger 75010 Paris. Tel. 01-42002515 or 06-28476381. Metro: Strasbourg – Saint-Denis.

Le Figaro list: http://www.lefigaro.fr/sortir-paris/2010/11/22/03013-20101122ARTFIG00674-le-test-des-meilleurs-couscous.php

***

Previous posts about eating North African food in Paris are:

L’Alcôve: finest meat of Paris (also serves couscous and tajine, but the house specialty is grilled meat –delicious!)
Algerian restaurant l’Atlantide in Paris (excellent couscous and tajine –my top choice!)
L’Homme Bleu: Berber hospitality in the center of Paris (reputable couscous and tajine restaurant but I was disappointed during my last visit)
Le Tipaza: refined Moroccan food (a good address near the Eiffel Tower)

 

12 thoughts on “Le Zerda Cafe: the number one by Le Figaro

    1. Miia Post author

      Oh cool you went to l’Alcove!
      So tell me how does l’Alcove rank among the meat places you know in Paris? I know at l’Aubrac etc it is also very good, but I like to support small business.

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      Reply
      1. Smaïn A.

        The meat is trully good. But I cannot rank it yet as I only had couscous (disappointing except the meat).
        Next time I’ll try the beef! It seems it is much better to go there and order a specific meat in advance like: Agneau de Lait!
        Do you know that the owner he is going to leave Paris in about 2yrs?

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      2. Miia Post author

        Oh I should I have told you to stick to the house specialty! Even the owner says so! “Here you eat grilled meat” 🙂

        The last time I had veal, amazing!!!!!

        Yes, that’s what he says, let’s see…

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    1. Miia Post author

      Hey, sometimes I feel Paris is very small and I have seen it all, but you are right. At least when it comes to restaurants, there is no shortage 🙂

      How about your hometown? Still new places to discover?

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      Reply
      1. joergkruth

        Of course. I’m from near Düsseldorf, well quiet not Paris, but it’s the view itself, I think. Isn’t it strange that discovering is more about giving oneself the time to do it? And it’s a long journey.

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      2. Miia Post author

        Lovely green city, I have been several times but a long timer ago. Cannot remember what I ate though 😉

        What I miss most about Paris is good ethnic places. You find excellent North African food but North Indian is difficult, Turkish and Greek too… Or the prices get immediately very high.
        At the moment the city is booming with hamburger and bagel places!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Miia Post author

      After a lot of exploration and research my favorite for couscous & tajine is L’Atlantide.
      Where do you live, any good north African restaurants over there?

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      Reply
      1. Miia Post author

        Lucky you living in India, my favorite country in the world!!!! Where do you live there? I was there again in April this year. Took my parents to the Golden Triangle & see tigers, then flew to Varanasi with my husband, included a short stop in Calcutta on the way to south, then one week of Ayurveda treatments in Kerala, and lastly some fun time in Bombay with friends.

        You have such a diversified country!!!

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