It is hard to write about a place that has such an emotional place in my heart and try not to be bias. When I was first taken to this restaurant it was a surprise and I did not know what to expect. I was told we were going to a French bistro and I sort of curled my nose up at the idea, thinking the menu would be full of frogs and foie gras. Even so, I went along with the plan, being in the mood to try something new and different.
Arriving at the restaurant was a pleasant surprise. I expected a stuck up place with waiters in bow ties and Edith Piaf playing in the background and everyone staring at everyone else. Instead there was a small crowd outside the restaurant (which turned out to be the queue) and small tables placed side by side, with everyone sitting together. If you value your privacy in restaurants and do not enjoy sitting close to other people, this is not the place for you. You can not even make a reservation to request one of the tables you prefer (hence the queue outside). There are a few tables on the sidewalk and very few inside – in fact there is one quite large one inside that is quite ‘king Arthur and the round table’ with strangers sitting all around it conversing. Definitely a place to go and chat with your neighbours-quite an authentic Parisian experience. Peering inside you can’t help notice all the Parisian posters on the wall and a fully laid table and chairs all stuck onto the ceiling!
We had to wait for a table so we grabbed a few glasses of red wine and waited outside. When we finally found a table around 30 minutes later, we ordered a bottle of red wine from the all French wine list with some of the best prices I had seen in a while. The menu is small with around 10 starters (including salads) and 5-6 main courses. There is also a daily special.
Most of my friends know I am not an adventurous person with my food. This is why it came as quite a shock when I ordered the dish of the day – ostrich (but not so shocking when I custom ordered it without the creamy pepper sauce – guilty!).
Everything was served with potatoes au gratin as well as peas or beans, a carrot mash and a Bearnaise sauce. When asked how I wanted my meat cooked, I trusted the waitress to make the right decision, since I had no idea how ostrich was meant to be eaten. It arrived rare, but perfectly browned on the outside and had the appearance of a beautiful steak. (I was later to discover ostrich meat is an alternative to meat as it is low in fat and cholesterol, as well as high in calcium, protein and iron-basically a healthier steak). The colour is a dark or cherry red, just slightly darker than beef. This was one of the meals I can remember that changed not only my life, but my outlook on food. The meat was so good, the potatoes au gratin so exquisite and combined with all the sauces – life changing. I won’t even mention its combination with the wine we were drinking.
The whole experience of the restaurant was not what I was expecting at all. The chefs come outside to serve you your food and come back to ask how it is. The waitresses were all very friendly and at the end of the meal we got talking with Lucien himself who with his wife Agathi, runs the bistro. We ended up talking with them all night and did not even realise when it was 4 am, we were the last customers and still talking and drinking. To this day I try to visit at least once a month and always end up keeping Lucien and his wife up with our long conversations.
We usually pay around 30-40 euros a person, which includes a starter, 2 main courses and a few bottles of wine. They now have a menu for 25 euros a person that includes 3 courses. Major highlights worth trying are the goats cheese or salmon salad and onion soup to start, any meat on the menu as well as the delicious duck and any dish of the day. Overall an unassuming, authentic French experience that always leaves you wanting more.