Last year the New York Times heralded a new ‘affordable dining renaissance’ in Paris and sure enough, the penchant for starched fine-diners of yore is being replaced by a yearning for more relaxed, bouillon-style dining. Here’s our round-up of the city’s best restaurants offering good style for dollar.
A growing demand for hearty dining without the hefty price tag has seen a resurgence of Paris’ fabled ‘bouillons’ in recent years. First popular with the proletariat during the Belle Époque, these affordable bistro-style canteens are now working their mass appeal magic with excellent French paysan food served against a timelessly elegant brasserie backdrop.
One such example is Bouillon Julien, a formerly fading brasserie turned rave-busy bouillon under new management. Deemed a ‘historical monument’, with Edith Piaf among its former patrons, this beautiful 1906 Art Nouveau salon has done away with foam in favour of generous crowd-pleasers like cuisse de canard confite with fries, and rice pudding with salted butter caramel.
Or for a more modern take on the soup kitchen concept, Bouillon Pigalle, in the hip and happening 18th ladles out equally filling portions of salted cod with mash, coquillette pasta in broth, and farmhouse terrine at wallet-forgiving prices, in a convivial, on-trend monochrome cantina.
With a three-course set menu that hikes its price by a piffling €2 from lunch (€41) to dinner (€43), it’s easy to see why La Régalade Saint-Honoré is packed out all day, every day. Book well ahead for chef Bruno Doucet’s ode to simple, market-fresh ingredients, including a lovely vegetable tartelette, house terrine, and Mérlu roti with a cauliflower mousse and beurre noisette. Popularity among discerning Parisians has led to a few branches popping up across town, but we prefer the Saint-Honoré original for its charmant decor and handy mid-shop-flop location.
Don your Spanx – and a hearty appetite – for the mega portions and to-die-for desserts at local foodie go-to Bistrot Paul Bert (18 rue Paul Bert, 11th). Replete with mirrored walls, white linens and Bentwood chairs, this quintessentially Parisian eatery plates up all manner of bistro classics, from steak-frites to terrine de campagne, but our hands-down favourite is the sticky, plump wedge of tarte tatin served with a dollop of cold crème fraîche.
Practically made for those chilly November nights, atmossy old-timer Bistrot Victoires (6 rue de la Vrillière, 1st) is the ideal date-night spot to cosy up with your beau and a warming glass of Bordeaux. Slip into one of the intimate, low-lit banquettes to indulge in lashings of roast chicken, ribeye steak, and salads heaped with calorific extras. Bon appetit!
Originally produced for PenCities.
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