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With anti-American sentiment on the rise worldwide, it’s not surprising that the French, the self-appointed guardians of life and liberty have found new ways of expressing their displeasure. At Charles De Gaulle airport, select flights destined for the U.S. are now assigned to the ill-famed Terminal E, where the falling ceiling once caused casualties. One fashion editor arriving for the Paris couture shows last July was sprayed with insecticide in a show of welcome. Hoteliers and restauranteurs, who for years have made an art form of hauteur, have turned up the volume a notch.

If guide books were to compile a list of American-friendly restaurants, however, Chez Gramond should get honorable mention. The Gramonds opened their bistro while John Kennedy was in the White House, and the menu has changed little with passing time. By the door, a small American flag is kept on a table.

“We love Americans,” M. Gramond explained. “My son lives in Connecticut. So what if the U.S. is going through a rough period. It’s all a cycle.”

Change, however, is not a word that applies to his own establishment. While the streets of the sixth arrondissement near the Jardin du Luxembourg have gone from cobblestones to blacktop, and the neighborhood, once a bastion of liberals from the publishing industry, has morphed into a haven for tourists, Gramond’s classic cooking has not budged one inch. And perhaps that is the secret to his longevity.

On the brisk November Friday I visited, game was in season. The handwritten menu posted on the window changes daily according to market. Mme. Gramond confesses that they do not own a freezer, since her husband goes to Rungis every morning to search out the day’s offering.

The Civet de Lièvre, or Hare Stew that occupied a place of honor that day was served in a heavy black pepper sauce and accompanied by parsnips and carrots. Elsewhere, partridge, Scottish grouse and pheasant graced the menu, though Woodcock (now protected by French law) was nowhere to be sighted.

Of the first courses, the House foie gras is among the best to be found in Paris, and a treat to the palate when accompanied by a glass of Sauternes.

For a true dessert sensation, the weightless Grand Marnier soufflé can not be topped.

Unfortunately, the tables are increasingly empty, and with the Gramonds nearing retirement age, one wonders if classic cuisine, like haute couture, is an art form that is ephemeral.


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