10, Rue Gustave Flaubert (17)
More than 20 years ago, when we last ate here, the then-named Bistrot a la Cote launched a new concept in Paris restaurants. A famous chef (Michel Rostang) running a highly acclaimed Michelin starred restaurant opening a popularly priced annex. Until then, even the thought of running more than one kitchen seemed impossible. Not only was the original bistro revolutionary, it was literally around the corner from the original. It was located in the vacated space of a traditional small grocery, with most of the décor in place, tired but charming. Since then, Rostang has repeated the trick several more times in the form of differently named, less ambitious places in Paris, and so has virtually every other Michelin 3 star chef. It is a form of extending the halo of the brand.
What made us return – actually, what reminded us it was there – was a slight name change and reports of a new chef, possibly in anticipation of Rostang’s retirement and disappearance. (Actually, he appeared at dinner to greet a table of French clients, I assume through an inside door which must connect the two kitchens.)
Quite separate from the distinguished history, the food was terrific. Short formula menu with several blackboard additions, several notches above comparable places. The 2 star Rostang pedigree was evident in every dish, notwithstanding the modest surroundings and small, crowded, but not uncomfortable space.
Gnocchi with sweetbreads and mushrooms, raw scallops with a delicious crunchy topping. As entrees, quenelle de brochet with classic rich sauce nantua and beautifully portioned and plated poached cod in a seafood broth as entrees. Poached pear and light and dark pots de chocolate (sophisticated chocolate puddings). All 6 excellent dishes.
One capable front of the house woman takes the coats, the orders and the credit card. A runner brings the food. Simple, friendly, casual, appropriate. Tight seating. All French. All 50 or so seats full on a rainy weekday night. Walk-ins turned away.
3 courses, 45€, with a few supplements. Diverse wine list focusing toward medium prices. With 45€ wine, water, 2 coffee, 154€ for 2.