February 16, 2011
The trouble with dating someone who always thinks he’s right is that, sometimes, he actually is. On my most recent visit to Paris, my BF and I got into a lot of food-related debates, and I have to admit, he knows his stuff. While I tend to keep my ear to the ground for news about new restaurants, emerging chefs, and more concept-driven eateries, he has quietly and discerningly been working his way through old-school establishments that offer exquisite traditional cuisine in pretension-free (and mostly tourist-free) settings. He pays very little attention to reviews or buzz, so when he labels a place “legit,” I’ve learned to take note.
He recently introduced me to the Bistrot du Peintre, a two-story Art Nouveau eatery that’s been around since 1902. It’s located in the 11th, a short walk from the Bastille and the Marais, but slightly out of the fray. Upon entering, I noticed the place was busy but calm, the tables full of relaxed French people who work in the quartier or who have probably been coming here for years, because they know what we now know: this place is legit.
We settled into a cozy banquette on the upper level and—like most of the other diners—ordered the day’s featured dishes: a silky mushroom soup with a secret ball of mozzarella at the bottom (sneaky! delicious!), braised pork on a mountain of velvety French lentils, and a not-too-creamy brandade de Cabillaud.
The servers were friendly, even jocular, and the place bustled with a pleasant energy—not always the norm in Paris. To our right, two professorial-men were discussing sociology; to our left, busy waiters were darting to and fro, efficient but unrushed, attentive but not “lurking.” I left feeling like I could eat every meal at this place for the rest of my life and be perfectly content.
So on this day, tradition trumped trendiness. And while some of Paris’ more buzzed-about restaurants continue to pique my interest, it seems that many of them are still “finding themselves,” and they often miss the mark (or hit it, and charge exorbitant prices as a result). So, buzz be damned. Bistrot du Peintre is reasonably-priced, conveniently located, ultra-authentic and totally delicious. In other words, this place is legit.
Bistrot du Peintre
116 Ave Ledru-Rollin, 75011
Open: Daily 7am-2am
- Lost in Cheeseland has a list of the best burgers in Paris
- Parisien Salon reviews Mère et Filles restaurant in the Marais
- Paris by Mouth has Paris’ latest foodie news on the Daily Bite
Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. Julien Hausherr is a photographer based in Paris, specializing in architecture, still-life and reporting. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.
Written by Tory Hoen
After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of Gradspot.com's Guide To Life After College.
Website: Tory Hoen