PARIS — It's practically impossible to get a bad meal here in the French capital, but it's hard to get one quickly. Even an easy-to-make Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) at a charming outdoor cafe takes upwards of an hour.
The French are not in a hurry to dine and no one rushes you to leave, like at most American restaurants. That's really lovely — except for those moments when you're starving and have to be somewhere soon.
Of course, there are fast food alternatives like McDonald's and Starbucks, which are on practically ever corner in the tourist areas near the Louvre and the Left Bank. But if I wanted to eat American fast food, I might as well have stayed at home.
While here recently to cover Liaisons au Louvre Trois, I was on a packed schedule, so it was really hard to take two hours in the middle of the day for a leisurely lunch. Fortunately, photographer Michelle Watson located a French-owned eatery right off the Rue St. Honoré (a couple of blocks from the super-trendy Colette boutique) that offers reasonably priced, healthy, great tasting food (with lots of gluten-free choices, too).
Qualité & Co, or Q&Co. for short, blends interesting world-influenced cuisine choices with American on-the-go convenience. A take-out area offer loads of salads (tabouli and feta, Asian chicken, quinoa and green vegetables), yogurt and fruit. Or order a variety of sandwiches, smoothies and specials of the day, which can range from a tomato tarte to lasagne, and a wide variety of desserts — this is France, after all.
With long communal tables if you don't want to eat on-the-run and free Wi-Fi, who could ask for more? A woman behind the counter says the restaurant also delivers and has become a favorite during Paris Fashion Week, too. (Q&Co is located at 7 rue du marché St. Honoré, with two other Paris locations. Salads run from $5-$10, depending on size; a sandwich, dessert and water is around $12.50)
Another great option for those in a hurry: A favorite stop for many tourists who come to Paris is a simple crepe stand located at Place St. Germain des Prés on the Left Bank, next to the Metro station and just down the street from the famous Le Deux Magots outdoor cafe. A ham and cheese crepe makes a full meal and the nutella and Grand Marnier dessert crepe beats dessert at any Michelin star restaurant, in my view. The cost? Under $6.