Bistros of Paris by Robert Hamburger and Barbara Hamburger by Robert Hamburger and Barbara Hamburger - Read Online

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Now fully revised and updated, this popular guide and compendium of good eating captures the true character and flavor of the most intimate and affordable eating establishments Paris has to offer. Classified as either traditional or modern, these bistros and wine bars are located by arrondisement (neighborhood) and rated for their quality and reliability.

The guide is organized into three parts. The first section contains individual listings that describe the unique characteristics of each bistro. It includes special dishes, wines, and places of interest in the vicinity. The second section offers a glossary of dishes and menu terms, and descriptions of ingredients and preparations frequently encountered, and a few suggestions on wine selection. The third section provides a cross-reference to locate a particular dish at the bistro that prepares it best.

Bistros of Paris is an essential reference for the food-conscious traveler intent on discovering the unadorned pleasures of traditional French cuisine.

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062028686
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INTRODUCTION

PARIS IS a fascinating city offering the visitor a never-ending array of pleasures. One of the most irresistible enticements is the cuisine. There is an age-old commitment to culinary excellence. Celebrated chefs and illustrious restaurants have made the city synonymous with fine food and wine, but it is the bistro that gives Paris its heart and soul.

Always sensitive to current social and economic trends, France’s gastronomic reputation is based on constant change. Not long ago, the restaurant world was transformed by a whole new generation of gifted young chefs who, having been classically trained in some of the most prestigious kitchens, began challenging the culinary orthodoxy of French cuisine. Venturing out on their own, many of these chefs chose to open bistros instead of luxury restaurants. These are the places where the most innovative cooking is taking place today, where a new kind of bistro has evolved.

Taking their inspiration from France’s diverse regional heritage, these young chefs are bringing refinement and imagination to classic bistro fare by integrating the best products of the countryside with exotic ingredients and global flavors, enhancing basic bourgeois food with the stylish flourish of contemporary haute cuisine. To keep prices down, expensive products are used as garnishes, and time-consuming preparations are abandoned. Menus are determined by the season and market availability, allowing not only maximum freshness but a minimum of waste. To showcase the special talent of the chef, the menu-carte was introduced. This is a greatly expanded version of the prix-fixe menu and offers the diner numerous choices from among the top specialties of the particular bistro at a significant saving. Yet there is nothing budget about these stylish modern bistros, and the idiom continues to attract other young chefs, resulting in a continual flowering of new addresses.

Meanwhile, the traditional bistros of the city remain firmly entrenched in the hearts of Parisians. Impervious to changing fashions, these legendary places continue to thrive precisely because they maintain and produce the familiar dishes that are the essence of French cuisine. While seasonal and special dishes may be presented, it is the classic preparations that bring a highly critical and discerning clientele back year in and year out.

There are the sausages of the Lyonnaise, the gigots de prés-salés of Brittany, the gratins of the Dauphiné, the brandades of Provence, the choucroutes of Alsace, the cassoulets of Languedoc, the open tarts and potées of Lorraine, entrecôte from Bordeaux, bouillabaisse from the Riviera, and coq au vin, escargots, and boeuf bourguignon from Burgundy. Less well known are the marmites and andouilles from Normandy, rillettes and matelots from the Loire, truffades and aligots from Auvergne, garbures from the Pyrenees, and poulets au vin jaune from the mountains of the Jura. Traditional bistros take pride in preparing these lusty dishes so central to French identity. They may refine and update them to suit modern tastes, but innovation is always tempered by tradition.

WINE BISTROS (bistrots-à-vins) gained a foothold in Paris many years ago and have become a special part of the bistro scene. In the beginning most were dimly lit, smokeridden haunts patronized by the owners’ wine-loving cronies. In some places such a description is still pretty accurate, but in others you will find a substantial range of fine food and wine in a tasteful setting. There is nothing excessive in the way of gastronomy; but if you want to lunch well but quickly or dine early in a congenial atmosphere, the wine bistro is ideal.

Today it is not easy to discover a comparatively unknown bistro. Any place serving consistently good food soon becomes popular. We have designated a handful of places as discoveries, bistros patronized by a discerning Parisian clientele but as yet relatively unexplored by foreign visitors. We have pinpointed these restaurants as worth special consideration for the more adventurous traveler.

This guide is organized around the arrondissement plan and divided into two parts. Part One contains individual listings, which describe the characteristics that make each establishment unique; it includes special dishes, wines, and places of interest in the area. Part Two provides a cross-reference to locate the particular dish you want at the place that prepares it best; and a list of bistros open on Sunday. Finally, there is an alphabetical index of all the listed establishments.

TODAY THE BISTRO reigns supreme. Both traditional and modern bistros are widely popular, so advance reservations are necessary. You should also be warned that between the time this guide was written and your visit, a restaurant may change (closing dates are especially variable), so be sure to telephone to check whether the information in this guide is still valid. In the fall of 2000, the currency rate of exchange was 7.5 francs to the dollar.

There is a persistent fiction that one can eat well almost anywhere in Paris. The fact is that many places are surprisingly mediocre. We hope this highly selective guide will lead you to some of the enjoyable experiences bistro dining has given us.

PART ONE

THE BISTROS BY ARRONDISSEMENT

PARIS IS DIVIDED into twenty arrondissements (districts) spiraling clockwise around the first, which marks the center of the city. Each arrondissement has its own atmosphere and distinctive landmarks, so to know the number of the arrondissement is to know the style and character of the district.

The 1er (meaning premier) includes part of the Île de la Cité and the areas around the Louvre and Palais-Royal. This is a tourist, shopping, and business district with many hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, specialty shops, banks, and government buildings.

The 2e (deuxième) is a curious mix of old streets and beautifully renovated glass-roofed passages. Originally built in the early nineteenth century, these picturesque galleries still recall the romantic atmosphere of a bygone era.

The 3e and 4e (troisième and quatrième) include the areas of Les Halles (the old produce markets), Beaubourg, and the Marais. The old narrow, slummy streets and courtyards have been turned into a large pedestrian area with a shopping mall, and many new apartments, all dominated by the gigantic glass-and-steel Pompidou Center. Many of the old hôtels (mansions) of the Marais are being used to house museums, schools, libraries, and luxury apartments. Trendy boutiques, antique shops, cafés, and restaurants attract a yuppy crowd.

The 5e and 6e (cinquième and sixième) on the Left Bank comprise the areas of St-Michel and St-Germain-des-Prés. They are among the liveliest and most picturesque sections of the city. The 5e is student Paris—the Quartier Latin and the Sorbonne. The 6e is intellectual and literary Paris, snobbish and avant-garde. The narrow mazes of streets are lined with bookshops, publishing houses, antique stores, art galleries, and boutiques of every description.

The 7e (septième) is on the Left Bank but has nothing in common with the 5e or 6e. It is a residential area, conservative and wealthy, where the historic monuments—the Tour Eiffel, the Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb, and the Musées d’Orsay and Rodin—are found.

The 8e (huitième) is the most diverse arrondissement. It is the district of the Étoile, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysées, and the place de la Concorde. It encompasses the luxury areas around the Madeleine and Faubourg-St-Honoré and the middle-class student and commercial areas around Gare St-Lazare and boulevard Haussmann.

The 9e (neuvième) is the arrondissement of the Gaillion-Opéra, Pigalle, and the grand boulevards. It is a shopping, theater, and business district, with big department stores, boutiques, cafés, brasseries, and movie houses. The smart end is near the Opéra; it gets seedier as you go east. The areas around Place Pigalle abound with sex shops, prostitutes, porn films, and porn bookstores.

The 10e (dixième) is largely unspoiled; it is dominated by two large train stations, the Gare du Nord and the Gare de l’Est.

The 11e, 12e, and 13e (onzième, douzième, and treizième) are middle- and working-class areas, crowded with high-rise developments and small industries. A visit to the Bois de Vincennes is certainly worth a detour to the 12e, and the Asian restaurants in the 13e are among the best in Paris.

A diagram of Paris showing the arrondissements

The 14e and 15e (quatorzième and quinzième) are the old districts around Montparnasse and have in the last several years undergone much development. The cafés, brasseries, and movie houses continue to attract a lively, hip crowd.

The 16e (seizième) contains the quartiers of Passy and Auteuil. Here the rich and superchic live on private, tree-lined streets, behind closed doors and ivy-covered walls.

The 17e (dix-septième) is also a luxury area, although not as posh as the 16e. It is not a tourist area, but in rue Poncelet there is a lively market with an astounding choice of produce.

The 18e (dix-huitième) contains the slopes of Montmartre. The area is overshadowed by the great white basilica of Sacré-Coeur and has largely escaped reconstruction because of the steep and narrow streets of the Butte. The Goutte d’Or (Drop of Gold) is a commercial and working-class area of mixed nationalities. The Arab groceries and the Afro-Antilles restaurants are considered the best in the city.

The 19e and 20e (dix-neuvième and vingtième) are the most remote arrondissements. Waves of immigrants have settled here. There is an exotic mixture of food, shops, newspapers, cafés, and so on. The main tourist attractions are the Pare de Villette in the 19e and Père-Lachaise cemetery in the 20e.

RANKINGS

HERE IS the key to the symbols used in Bistros of Paris.

KEY TO SYMBOLS

represents traditional bistro. Number of pots is rating for traditional bistros)

represents modern bistro. Number of hats is rating for modern bistros)

metro stop

phone number

fax number

hours/days closed

From the hundreds of bistros we have visited on our most recent trips to Paris, we have selected what we consider the best and most representative of two groups: traditional and modern. We have ranked each group according to four basic criteria: consistency, quality, generosity, and warmth of welcome. Our rankings are Best, Exceptional, and Very Good. In the list below, within each category and ranking the restaurants are listed alphabetically by arrondissement. Even those in the lowest category were solid bistros with some dishes of outstanding merit.

TRADITIONAL BISTROS

L’Ami Louis 3e

Au Bascou 3e

Benoît 4e

Chez Dumonet (Joséphine) 6e

Le Florimond 7e

La Fontaine de Mars 7e

Chez Catherine 9e

La Grille 10e

Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes 11e

Le Repaire de Cartouche 11e

À Sousceyrac 11e

La Régalade 14e

Restaurant du Marché 15e

Chez Pauline 1er

La Tour de Monthléry 1er

Chez la Vieille 1er

L’Ange Vin 2e

Chez Georges—Le Jeu du Mail 2e

Le Grizzli 4e

Le Vieux Bistro 4e

Les Fontaines 5e

Chez René 5e

Chez Maître Paul 6e

La Rôtisserie d’en Face 6e

Auberge Bressane 7e

Auberge d’Chez Eux 7e

L’Oeillade 7e

Au Petit Tonneau 7e

Le P’tit Troquet 7e

Le Boucoléon 8e

Casa Olympe 9e

Le Parmentier 10e

Au C’Amelot 11e

Cartet 11e

Chardenoux 11e

Auberge le Quincy 12e

À la Biche au Bois 12e

Le Petit Marguery 13e

Au Vins des Rues 14e

Le Gastroquet 15e

Chez Pierre 15e

Le Troquet 15e

Le Petit Boileau 16e

Caves Pétrissans 17e

Marie-Louise 18e

La Boulangerie 20e

Lescure 1er

Le Relais Chablisien 1er

Clémentine 2e

Baracane (Bistrot de l’Oulette) 4e

Au Bourguignon du Marais 4e

Les Fous d’en Face 4e

Mauzac 5e

Moissonnier 5e

Allard 6e

Le Réveil du Xe 10e

Astier 11e

Le Passage 11e

Le Square Trousseau 12e

Aux Charpentiers 6e

Marie et Fils 6e

Wadja 6e

Chez l’Ami Jean 7e

Le Calmont 7e

Berrys 8e

Ma Bourgogne 8e

L’Alsaco Winstub 9e

L’Oenothèque 9e

Le Pétrelle 9e

Le Bouledogue Bistrot 10e

Les Coteaux 15e

Le Père Claude 15e

Le Bistrot d’à Côté Flaubert 17e

Chez Paul 13e

Le Terroir 13e

La Côte de Boeuf 17e

Le Baratin 20e

MODERN BISTROS

Le Pamphlet 3e

Le Réminet 5e

L’Épi Dupin 6e

Chez Michel 10e

LesAmognes 11e

Jean-Pierre Frelet 12e

L’Avant-Goût 13e

L’Os à Moelle 15e

LeTroyon 17e

L’Ardoise 1er

L’Argenteuil 1er

Willi’s Wine Bar 1er

Le Hangar 3e

Les Bookinistes 6e

La Villaret 11e

L’Anacréon 13e

Virgule 13e

Le Bistro d’Hubert 15e

Baptiste 17e

L’Affriolé 7e

Au Bon Accueil 7e

Velly 9e

Les Jumeaux 11e

Café d’Angel 17e

L’Étrier Bistrot 18e

La Cave Gourmand 19e

Les Allobroges 20e

Le Dauphin 1er

Chez Toutoune 5e

La Bastide Odèon 6e

Dame Jeanne 11e

A& M Le Bistrot 16e

Le Bistrot de l’Étoile Niel 17e

Le Zéphyr 20e

DISCOVERIES

ON OUR MOST RECENT trip to Paris, we tracked down a small group of neighborhood bistros that are relatively unknown even to the most knowledgeable travelers. These delightful restaurants offer the adventurous gourmet an opportunity to explore and enjoy some truly wonderful places before they are included in the best-selling tourist guides. Most have been opened by dedicated and talented chefs in rather obscure areas without fanfare or publicity; and although each has a unique approach to cooking, all offer outstanding dishes in a warm, friendly atmosphere. One word of caution, however—these bistros may be undiscovered by the general public, but they are extremely popular in their local districts, so it is always prudent to reserve. We have listed these discoveries by arrondissement.

1er

L’Argenteuil

Le Dauphin

3e

Le Hangar

Le Pamphlet

5e

Le Réminet

7e

Le Florimond

Le Boucoléon

9e

Le Pétrelle

Velly

10e

Le Parmentier

11e

Les Jumeaux

12e

Jean-Pierre Frelet

13e

Virgule

15e

Le Troquet

16e

Le Petit Boileau

17e

Baptiste

18e

L’Étrier Bistrot

20e

La Boulangerie

1er ARRONDISSEMENT

L’ARDOISE

L’ARGENTEUIL

LE DAUPHIN

LESCURE

CHEZ PAULINE

LE RELAIS CHABLISIEN

LA TOUR DE MONTHLERY (CHEZ DENISE)

CHEZ LA VIEILLE

WILLI’S WINE BAR

LOUVRELES HALLES –PALAIS - ROYAL

PLACES OF INTEREST

Forum des Halles

Galerie National du

Jeu de Paume

Île de la Cité (1er, 4e)

Jardin des Tuileries (and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel)

Louvre des Antiquaires

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Musée du Louvre

Opéra (1er, 2e, 9e)

Pont-Neuf and Square du Vert-Galant

Rue St-Honoré

Rue de Rivoli

Place Vendôme

L’Ardoise

M. PIERRE JAY

28, rue du Mont-Thabor, 75001 (off rue de Rivoli; the nearest cross street is rue Rouget de Lisle)

Concorde or Tuileries

01-42-96-28-18

Monday; one week in May; and three weeks in August

  L ocated in the heart of Paris, the premier arrondissement, this intimate restaurant is the solo debut of Pierre Jay, formerly of La Tour d’Argent and Chez Jean. Going into his third year, M. Jay has established a devoted following who appreciate his originality and his dedication to using only the freshest and best-quality foods for his cuisine de marché.

The modern glass facade leads into a small dining room painted white and furnished with rush-seated chairs surrounding comfortably large square or round tables set in white linen. The walls are decorated with black-and-white photos in a contemporary minimalist style. There’s nothing minimalist, however, about the imaginative, tasty entrées and plats M. Jay has created. On the day we visited, a blackboard carte (at 175 francs) offered no fewer than eleven entrées, ten plats, and eight desserts.

Entrées included crab flan in a creamy parsley emulsion, a salad of squid and langoustine with grated carrots and celery with ginger dressing and a tartare of red tuna, and M. Jay’s signature dish: foie gras and whipped artichoke enclosed in a flaky philo envelope.

Among the main course listings were such imaginative creations as fondant de joue de boeuf (beef cheeks); fresh cod on a bed of mashed potatoes with chorizo sausage chips; roasted pigeon, boned with the innards cooked to a confit and spread on toast; and grilled sea bass with fennel.

Desserts were also given much attention; they included a ballon de fraises (a caramelized dessert, cream and strawberries served in a champagne glass), a superb feuillantine au citron (sugar-glazed pastry leaves filled with lemon), and pain perdu with vanilla ice cream and caramelized apples.

M. Jay, a native of Macon in Burgundy, has selected interesting, sensibly priced wines.

Up-to-the-minute, appealing food, attentive service, and reasonable prices keep this new, small jewel perpetually busy, so reservations are necessary. (L’Ardoise can sometimes be noisy.)

RECOMMENDED DISHES

Gallette de Foie Gras et Artichaut. Open tart filled with foie gras and