On my better half’s first night in Paris this year, I thought we should go to a traditional French bistrot… and with the apt name ‘Le Bistrot de Paris’, and boasting famous clients like Serge Gainsbourg, this seemed like the right choice.
And indeed, everything felt so perfectly Parisian, so French, that it was a wonderful night. The menu is in orange ink on yellow paper with the smallest of letters. Neither of our aging eyes could read it without the flashlights from our iPhones! And the menu was so French that it was a little difficult to figure out… classics that we didn’t know were classics!
S. opted for the special of the day, lamb cutlets, and they were absolutely perfectly done in a rich glaze with crisp, small potatoes and baked garlic.
I had the skate (raie in French), which I find an interesting fish, with the extremely long flat bones, the perfectly long strips of dense white flesh. With capers and cubes of citrus (grapefruit) on top of a bed of spinach, this was very nice, but what made it nicer was a whole container of beurre noisette, which I could ladle on top of the fish.
We skipped appetizers in favour of desserts, and while I was expecting slightly boring traditional desserts, these ones were elevated. Both cream and ice cream in the middle of these profiteroles, pretty enough on their own (which I expected) and then suddenly the waiter swoops over and pours warm chocolate sauce over the trio.
I’d also had sickly sweet Rhum Baba before, round balls of it in a sauce, so didn’t expect that S’s would come as a big cake, sliced in half in front of us, with rum poured on top of the cake (and the bottle left, momentarily on the table, in case we wanted more) with whipped cream. It was damn good.
A final word is that both host and waiter were perfectly French, charming and efficient, in a slightly comical manner. I thought we were in a French theme park rather than a restaurant, it seemed both stereotypical to fulfil any expectations I had of a traditional, formal bistrot, but also a discovery to learn, to get the feel that this is how things are done in Paris. Bookings are easy to make online, via La Fourchette (The Fork).
Le Bistrot de Paris, 33 rue de Lille, Left Bank, a block away from the Musée d’Orsay.