Even before the opening of its first branch in Brazil, the legendary French café Les Deux Magots took over social media in the country. From one moment to the next, it seemed that all the gastronomy influencers in São Paulo had decided to go to the place, which was in a soft opening, and were unanimous in saying that eating there was like “feeling in Paris”.
The assessment may even make sense, especially when you consider that going to the French capital means visiting one of the most gastronomic cities in the world, but also finding one of the places with the largest number of tourist pranks on the planet. There is a Paris full of wonderful classic bistros, but you cannot ignore the terrible dry baguette sandwiches with second-rate ham or the crepes reheated with Nutella served outside museums.
In Deux Magots, the experience is similar. The Brazilian branch is open from breakfast to dinner, with bread and sweet options for breakfast and more elaborate dishes for the rest of the day. Depending on what you choose to eat, you can actually taste flavors that remind you of delicious classics of French cuisine, or face dishes that seem like true gastronomic nonsense.
When in doubt, it’s better to bet on the classics.
In addition to the well-prepared breakfast, the house stands out for reproducing with quality croques, cheese and ham sandwiches covered in béchamel sauce and gratin. You can have a fried egg on top (madame, R$46) or without it (monsieur, R$41).
The sandwich is very well put together, served very hot and without drowning in sauce, ensuring an interesting heterogeneity of textures and flavors. The ingredients are clearly of quality, the béchamel is very well made, and can be a good option for both a meal and a snack.
In addition to them, traditional starters can also be a hit, with good cheese and sausage options. The pâté en croute (R$55), with good pieces of duck roasted inside a pie crust, is delicious, with a variety of textures and flavors that are truly Parisian.
But the menu also has its gotchas.
When ordering a steak tartare, the helpful waiter explained that there are two options available. In addition to the dish of raw minced meat served cold with condiments, there is an “exclusive house” alternative. At allez retour (R$79), the raw meat is sealed on the grill: “You can only find it here”, he recommended.
Even at the risk of changing a classic recipe, it seemed like a choice to get to know the house better. Big mistake.
When the dish was served, it was difficult to recognize what was there. A meatloaf hidden in mustard sauce did not resemble tartare at all. The raw minced meat was shaped into a disc and then placed on the plate, served warm and in a block that did not come off easily, it had none of the texture and freshness that one can expect from the classic and seemed more like a medium-rare hamburger. —and not a good one.
Deux Magots in São Paulo has a large, pleasant lounge, a beautiful terrace and decor that echoes the French original. The service is more attentive and friendly than in France, but it still makes serious mistakes — on one visit, they left dirty napkins from previous customers on the table and almost served drinks in used glasses.
Just as Paris is worth a visit, even with its pranks, the French café branch in São Paulo can really offer a pleasant experience — but you need to be careful not to make the wrong choices.
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