updated, July 24, 2023 Recent years have seen néo-bistros in the French capital bring the sometimes-stuffy dining scene into the modern era with a fresh vision of French cuisine. At the same time, many have lamented traditional brasseries’ and bistrots’ decline into mediocrity. The pendulum may have swung back a little, and not a moment too soon for those nostalgic for affordable prices, rustic French comfort classics.
Les Bouillons – Traditional French Cuisine at Affordable Prices
The recent rise in popularity of Paris bouillon restaurants is a testament to this. These fast and cheap restaurants were once popular with the working classes during the Belle Époque, but had virtually disappeared, surpassed in popularity by the brasserie. Yet the public’s insatiable appetite for traditional French cuisine at a reasonable price has meant that Paris bouillons are experiencing a revival, evidenced by the ever-present lines at Bouillon Chartier, Bouillon Pigalle, and Bouillon République. Bouillon Julien entered the field in 2019 and we made a return visit recently.
Art Nouveau Interior Design
Previously known as Brasserie Julien, this 10th arrondissement eatery followed the bouillon trend, revamping its menu and reducing its prices a few years back. If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned brasserie serving food at low prices, it’s well worth a visit. Amongst the most beautiful restaurants in the city, the interior design is a well-preserved example of the Art Nouveau style.
Initially opened in the early 20th century, the building was designed by the French architect Edouard Fournier. Charles Buffet designed its stained glass ceiling while the beautiful mahogany bar is the work of Louis Majorelle. It is classified as a historical monument and was one of Edith Piaf’s favorite haunts. The building underwent a major renovation and was restored to its former glory, the walls returned to their original sea-foam green to compliment the vibrant stained glass of the restaurant’s interior.
And The Food?
Based on our recent dinner visit, Julien offers good food though truth be told, the beautiful interior may be the bigger attraction. When we went back for a return visit on a Sunday evening, there was a line to get in, but it moved quickly. Within 10-15 minutes we were seated inside the bustling restaurant. The busy servers were helpful and polite.
As for the food, a starter of poireaux vinaigrette (leeks vinaigrette) costs less than a salad at Pret-A-Manger. It was light and piquante with a welcomed contrast from the noisettes. Escargots delivered the buttery, garlicky goodness expected of this classic dish. For a main course, the boeuf bourguignon with pasta was rustic, well-seasoned and satisfying. Fish with choucroute was nicely seasoned though the fish woefully overcooked.
Might there be better versions of these classic French dishes elsewhere in Paris? Yes. But the meals here are satisfying, especially for the price (three-courses for 20-25 euros) and the beautiful setting. For glorious décor and solid traditional dishes, that are easy on the wallet, Bouillon Julien is worth a visit.
Bouillon Julien – 16 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010. + 33 (0) 1 47 70 12 06. Metro: Strasbourg-St Denis. Non-stop service 11:45 AM – midnight. Bookings accepted.
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