Desperately Seeking Bistros

Desperately Seeking Bistros

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Paris restaurantA question on another website was: where are there bistros that are:

-moderately priced

-atmospheric

-old-school

-fireplace a plus.

I’ve written a great deal about bistros, brasseries and restaurants. What’s in a name? And why the big deal? It occurs to me that t visitors are seeking a throw-back to their student days at the Sorbonne, or perhaps to their parents’ student days at the Sorbonne, when the Left Bank cafés were pretty simple, reasonably-priced places that pushed out classic dishes such as magret de canard, green beans and better frites than we have now.

All the words the poster used have loaded and sometimes divergent meanings, as another person pointed out.

A moderately priced, say 30 E a meal before drinks, is expensive to someone who is back-packing across Europe for a year. The same meal is cheap to the Wall Street banker who’s back in the bonus game.

Colette and I prefer the atmosphere in restaurants where we can hear each other, have elbow room, drink in the décor with our eyes and be treated warmly and nicely. It may not be what my grand-kids think is cool, vibrant and full of pounding music or for that matter what my parents wanted. They sought tablecloths, finger bowls and 15 silver utensils for one meal.

I’ve already addressed what is old-school; but again I think old-school is good, solid, classic stuff, whereas I think many think it’s what they were served in school or university cantines or others think has to have classic butter, flour, sugar and creamy sauces.

And then there’s the fireplace, which more and more these days seems artificial unless you’re in the country at Sunday lunch with families taking the old folks out.

Finally, while not discussed in the thread I’m referring to, the issue of ownership is an underlying, unstated subject. We seek out chef-owned places, even if SocGen or Credit Agricole are standing over the chef-owner’s shoulders and we mostly eschew the Costes, Blanc, Bertrand, Flo, yes, even Alain Ducasse’s empire outposts.

So what bistro combines moderately prices, atmosphere, old-school cooking and a fireplace? You’ve got me.

Chez Georges, Chez Grenouille and La Regalade meet the atmosphere and old-school requirements but customers are jammed together and Paul Bert and Repaire de Cartouche fail the fireplace test. Indeed, no place I know except Guy Savoy and Robert & Louise have fireplaces anymore, so maybe that’s a lost cause.

On the other hand, they’ll do until something that meets all the criteria shows up:

Le Repaire de Cartouche

8 blvd des Filles du Calvaire, 11th (Metro : Filles du Calvaire)

T : 01.47.00.25.86

Closed Sundays and Mondays

Lunch menus 13 & 24 €, à la carte 35-45 €.

Bistrot Paul Bert

18, rue Paul Bert, 11th (Metro: Faidherbe-Chaligny)

T: 01.43.72.24.01

Closed Sunday and Mondays

Menu 16 (lunch), 30 €. (dinner)

©by John Talbott 2011

If you’re coming to France and want to stress taken out of any and all planning, dynamo Lisa Buros-Hutchins of www.YourParisExperience.com can arrange anything and everything, including planning your honeymoon and/or making dinner reservations. Nothing is beyond her. Say Bonjour Paris referred you and put her to the test of making your stay in France perfect.

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