Paris Dining: Two Exciting Bistros that Won’t Break the Bank

Paris Dining: Two Exciting Bistros that Won’t Break the Bank
On a tiny cobbled side street near the Centre Pompidou, chef Denis Groison recently opened Le Mazenay bistro, named in homage to the Burgundy village where he was born and where his father and grandfather are pâtissiers and boulangers. Groison would park his yellow “La Poste” camionette outside but the street’s too narrow! “I use it to go to Rungis Market at 4am twice a week,” he explained one day recently. At dawn, Groison’s suppliers are waiting for him, from the bio butchers to the fishmonger, the Normandy potato grower, the producer whose speciality is “forgotten vegetables”, and Yves Cremer with his excellent cheeses that feature, like works of art, under a glass dome, on the zinc bar at Le Mazenay, alongside epicerie products by Maison Marc (check out the cornichons) that you’ll want to take home or give as gifts. Before opening Le Mazenay, Groison left France, having graduated from Ecole Ferrandi, to see the world. He worked at Raffles in Singapore, then Hotel Metropole Hanoi, on the way meeting the now Mme Groison, who is the bistro’s charming Mâitre d’hotel. In Paris you may have tasted his food at Les Gastropodes in the heart of the Marché des puces de Saint Ouen (Marché Dauphine, 140 rue de Rosiers). “When the opportunity came to take over this space we decided to go for it,” says Groison, “because we both love this quartier and I worked for a while at the beautiful Dôme du Marais, just round the corner.” There’s a blackboard with daily market-driven dishes, transformed in the tiny open kitchen behind the bar with only Groison and a sous chef cooking in zen concentration. Standout dishes last week were a tribute to Groison’s Burgundy with free range snail sablé, fresh herbs, endive, cottage cheese, blackcurrent cream dressing (14€), a wooden platter of charcuterie, Maison Marc gherkins and Thierry Breton bread with farm butter (9€). Wines are from little Burgundy growers by the glass from 4.50€ or try the white Chablis Vielles Vignes, Robin 2012 (37€) or red Monthelie, Le Combe Danay, from Rodolphe Demougeot, 2010 (48€). The cocotte of seasonal vegetables can be starter or a main dish. Hurry there for the Sandre (pike-perch), served with a drizzle of white wine sauce and black truffles covering braised Pompadour potatoes (30€); or the roast pigeon served with duck foie gras, purple mustard sauce, young vegetables and herbs (29€). Perfection! Finish with cheese, warm apple cake, Marou warm chocolate pudding with praline and Sicilian lemon cream… or the best Bourbon Vanilla Millefeuille ever! “It’s my father’s recipe,” he grins. And where do Mr and Mrs Groison eat on their date night ? “We love Desi Road for the Indo-British spin by chef Manoj Sharma who came to Paris via the Cinnamon Club London,” they confide. Le Mazenay, 46 rue Montmorency, 3rd. Metro: Etienne Marcel. Tel: 06 42 83 79 52. Closed Saturday lunch & Sunday. There’s a terrace, too. Au Père Louis Located in the quartier of the Sorbonne, Sénat, Odéon and the Luxembourg Gardens, this charming wine bar/restaurant is open 7/7. The welcome’s warm, decor’s neo-old Paris and the food’s excellent. Just make sure you’re hungry; the portions by chef Pascal Felher, who arrived recently, are generous. Swing by for a glass of wine (from 4.50€) and a planche of excellent charcuterie with bread by artisan baker Jean-Luc Poujauran (17€, to share), the perfect introduction to Père Louis. Try the Cuvée special Père Louis Rencontre 2011 Rouge assemblage: 30% Hermitage 70% Crozes-Hermitage. From the blackboard: choose a fish or meat plat du jour (15€), say, grilled bavette (steak) Black Angus, served with shallot sauce and golden hand-cut chips; or Skate, on a bed of leeks, with mustard sauce. Starters include bone marrow tartine (9€); Molten camembert, served in the box, salad and walnuts (8.50€); Traditional Onion soup (9€); 12 fine Burgundy snails (13.50€). Mains of Chitterling Sausage AAAAA, grain mustard and oh! those fries (17.50€), plus the signature Père Louis Cheeseburger (weekends only 18€). Don’t ignore the comforting Beef hachis Parmentier (19€) with green salad. Desserts include Tarte Tatin with thick cream– the sisters would approve– or Café Gourmand with Guatemala coffee (Max Havelaar). Au Père Louis, 38 rue Monsieur Le Prince, 6th. Metro: Odeon. Tel: 01 73 20 22 30. Open every day for lunch and dinner.  

Lead photo credit : courtesy of Le Mazenay

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Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !