Restaurant Reviews

L’Ourcine: Paris Bistrot Dining in the 13th

by Paige Bradley Frost

One of the things I love most about life in Paris is the leisurely bistro dejeuner – that delicious two-hour affair complete with three courses and wine, bien sur.

When I moved back to Paris this spring, I couldn’t wait to try some of the new bistros that had opened in the years I’d been away. I’d heard plenty about the haute cuisine-meets-neighborhood resto concept and was anxious to indulge.

My search led me to l’Ourcine – an out of the way spot near les Gobelins – for the decadent lunch I’d been dreaming about.

With its unpretentious vibe, market-inspired menu and excellent rapport qualité-prix, l’Ourcine has earned a devoted foodie following. For 34 euro (26 for mid-week lunch formule) the three-course menu offers creative riffs on classics like onglet de veau, pigeon roti au foie gras, “open” ravioli in a creamy morel mushroom sauce and famously, les quenelles au chocolat.

But no matter what you order from chef Sylvain Daniere’s ever-changing chalkboard menu, the locals swear: it’s all good.

Dejeuner for two started admirably with frothy shot glasses filled with mousse de fenouil topped with crusty mini-croutons, a signature of the Yves Camdeborde school of which Daniere is a star disciple. If this amuse bouche was any indication, this meal was going to be something special.

A chic couple seated at the adjacent table watched approvingly as my husband and I savored the deeply flavored, lively dishes that followed: bisque crèmeuse de langoustine, Veloute d’asperges vertes, Filet de canette roti sur l’os, Noix de St. Jacques roti en coquilles

Seeming gratified by our pleasure, the gentleman leaned toward us and whispered conspiratorially, “Tout est parfait ici. Original et très bon!” He and his wife spoke generously of many visits to l’Ourcine and its delicious offerings year round.

With its rustic-chic décor of bare wood tables (a scant 20 or so), gleaming wood bar and red clay tile floors, l’Ourcine attracts an eclectic crowd of serious food lovers. From a father and grown son to a family with a toddler, the scene was a happy mix of ages and backgrounds. In fact, two grandmothers in their 80’s appeared to be having as much fun as we were over a bottle (or two?) of Cotes du Luberon and steaming bowls of seafood bisque.

It’s the kind of place that feels like a great secret, one you’re not quite sure you want to share. After all, l’Ourcine’s unfashionable (and therefore affordable) location, small scale and limited menu mean it will retain that rare combination of superior cuisine at a bon prix.  Of course, this secret is out so be sure to book a table in advance.

It’s also a deeply Parisian place where unexpected conversations spring up between fellow diners who end up sharing an after-dinner digestif – always a delightful accompaniment to a memorable Paris meal.

If we had one complaint, it was the wait staff’s slow service that improved somewhat as they observed our pleasure with the meal. Anyway, the chance to watch Daniere’s energetic performance through the kitchen’s open window more than compensated for that.

As we sauntered full-belied out into the spring sunshine – the last diners of the satisfied lunch crowd – we spotted Daniere huddled in the front steps, cigarette in one hand, a nub of chalk in the other. With a furrowed brow and look of utter concentration, his thoughts were clearly on that night’s new menu. Whatever he chose, one thing was certain: it was bound to be très bon.

L’Ourcine
92, rue Broca, 75013
+33 (0)1.47.07.13.65
Métro: Les Gobelins
Open: Tue – Sat for lunch and dinner

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Written by Paige Bradley Frost for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Julien Hausherr; Contact: [email protected]. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Paige Bradley Frost

Paige Bradley Frost, a Los Angeles native, moved back to Paris with her young family in 2011 after first living and getting married there in 2000. A lover of French style and cuisine, she spends her days scouting and writing about the city's gems when not chasing after her two young children. Her articles about parenting, culture and lifestyle have appeared on NYTimes.com, the Huffington Post and various other publications. She blogs about her Paris experiences at http://parisdejavu.blogspot.com. View Paige Bradley Frost's Website

7 comments on “L’Ourcine: Paris Bistrot Dining in the 13th

Love this bistro — one of Paris’ best-kept gastronomic secrets. You did it justice!

The food really is special. And there’s just something great about finding such quality at an out of the way spot. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! – Paige

Christine Hueber

Love it, Paige! Thanks for sharing and I’ll be sure to try it soon.

Enjoy,
Christine Hueber

This is Belgium

looks like a place I definitely want to try asap ! great photos !

FrenchGardenHouse

Paige, this sounds like the perfect and most charming place! I put it on my list for my next trip to Paris. sigh…good thing that walking is the an all-day activity there!
Lidy

Haven in Paris

Sounds delicious Paige. I can’t wait to try it. I now need to trek across Paris from Montmartre . . . aie! I just learned you know a friend of mine Natali Milani! Small world. – Erica

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