There has been, and continues to be, renewed vigour in the Parisian bistro scene. Over the last 5-6 years many small new bistros have opened in the city. They’re often slightly off the beaten track whether that means a little out of the centre or in small side streets that can be a little difficult to find. The chefs in these bistros generally have classically French trained and use that basis for their new dishes. They build on and re-interpret traditional dishes often with the addition of ingredients drawn from other cultures. As well, I’ve noticed, particularly in the last year, that some very traditional bistros have re-invented themselves to some extent by ensuring that the classics they do are fantastic, by shortening their menus and by bringing back some of the old classics that had been forgotten. And, it almost goes without saying, that all bistros are using fresh market-driven seasonal produce with menus reflecting that seasonality.
In the past Mike and I would always eat here when it was called Royal Madeleine. It was fine for a nicely cooked meal – from memory I think I mostly ate duck confit – but there wasn’t anything particularly notable about it and we gradually stopped going. Now with a name change and a change of ownership they’ve built on their base, offering a concise menu of beautifully cooked classics. I had an absolutely delicious meal starting with daurade carpaccio (very thinly sliced raw fish) with a delicate lime dressing and tiny croutons followed by blanquette de veau – slow cooked veal in a light creamy sauce with vegetables. I wish I had had room for the Crepes Suzette à l’ancienne having watched the fiery performance and resulting Grand Marnier flavoured crepes produced for another table (we’re including them on our dessert menu next week – they’ll be flambéed at your table).
11 Rue du Chevalier de Saint-George, 75008 ph 01 42 60 14 36
Another old bistro that’s updated itself. Owned by the famous three Michelin starred Tour d’Argent, this place has been here for years. Again it’s one that we always ate it. As the name suggests it has rotisserie chicken, duck and lamb to share as well as a selection of classic dishes. Because it’s Spring in Paris, every menu had asparagus as an entrée. They looked really good here but I’d already eaten them several times at other places so I opted for the house terrine served with cornichons and mustard. I followed that by an amazing Coq au Vin and finally a small piece of fresh goat’s cheese. La Rôtisserie will definitely be back on my list of favourite places.
19 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 ph 01 43 54 17 47
Two weeks ago I talked about the 10th arrondissement and all that’s happening there. Amongst the variety of old businesses are several new style bistros.
Needing a lunch break from my exploration I stopped at Paradis Café and Restaurant one of the new breed. I really enjoyed my lunch of steamed asparagus with a light asparagus velouté and toasted hazelnuts and then oeuf parfait – an egg cooked at 64°C served with crème de cepes, herbs and culatello (tiny pieces of bacon). All the meals going to other tables looked delicious too. It’s also open for dinner.
14 Rue de Paradis, 75010
One of the most well-known of the new style bistros is Frenchie, its wine bar and now Frenchie to Go. Frances and I happened to fluke a booking there once. I think because of its popularity other bistros which are also tucked away and a little hard to find, are coming into the neighbourhood. One of those is Edgar both a bistro and hotel. As a hotel I used to walk past it thinking how tacky it looked. That’s changed. My lunch in the bistro was really really good and very fresh. After an entrée and main I ordered Riz au Lait – rice pudding topped with salted caramel sauce and sugared pistachios, peanuts and hazelnuts. I only ordered it because I’d seen rice pudding on several menus and thought I should try one (one of the first since being put off by my grandmother’s rice puddings in my childhood). It was yummy although I could only manage a few mouthfuls. We’ll have it in our bistro soon.
31 Rue d’Alexandre, 75002.