For years, dining at Le Bon Saint Pourçain was like stepping into a time machine set to the 1950s. Neighbors would come, their dogs and children in tow, spending as much time with the owner/waiter catching up on the local gossip as placing their order for a very traditional meal, invariably served with a glass of Bon Saint Pourçain wine. Suddenly, without word, the windows were white-washed over, rumors spread of a health issues (the owner’s, not the kitchen’s) and the neighborhood was left bereft.
This spring, two years after the sudden loss, activity could be seen behind the now flaking window paint. There were shadows inside and the sound of buzzing power tools competed with birdsong. The neighborhood was atwitter. Who was moving in, what would they be selling, and when would it all be happening?
Slowly, joy spread throughout the neighborhood as we learned that David Lanher, the man behind the fabulous Racines restaurant, would be filling the void. Regulars were thrilled to learn that they’d now be exchanging local gossip with Michel, a quartier fixture known for his bird whistle and 20 years of service at the Café de Flore.
Set on the picture-perfect rue Servandoni, a pedestrian cobbled lane that leads from the majestic Saint Sulpice to the Luxembourg Gardens, it is an out of the way, teeny-tiny restaurant with some huge shoes to fill.
Like most of the past regulars, we could not wait for the doors to open. I would pass by daily in anticipation and made reservations as soon as the calendar had been set; we had a date for night #2. We are traditionalists, not fond of too much neo in the bistrot and Le Bon Saint Pourçain hit the tone just right, serving traditional dishes that weren’t drowning in modern froufrou.
I had not been the only one waiting impatiently, and the airy, mid-century dining room hummed with anticipation. A past regular, dining with his dog, shouted to the chef in his open kitchen, “the asparagus starter is a marvel.” A couple in the corner, that had been coming for 20 years applauded their lamb chops and my date was thrilled to see veal kidney on the menu.
I can’t emphasize enough how small the size is. Michel and the restaurant’s female sommelier were working on the choreography for what is sure to become a well practiced dance of order taking, advising, and serving the ideal Paris meal. But don’t let the size deter you from trying to get a table; it’s well worth it.
10 bis rue Servandoni, 75006. Tel : +33 (0)1 42 01 78 24
- Stay in the neighborhood! Check out Haven in Paris’ Luxembourg Garden Penthouse flat.
- If you love going to restaurants that take you back in time, discover Paris’ oldest restaurants.
- Can’t get enough of traditional French cuisine? Paris By Mouth has rounded up some of the best classic French bistros in Paris.
Erratum: Thanks to reader Terrance Gelenter I have learned that Michel’s name is Dominique. I was introduced to him as Michel last fall by a Flore regular of 50 years. A true French gentleman, Dominique was too discreet to correct madame and has been answering my calls for Michel ever since. When I stopped by Le BSP to set the record straight, a good laugh was shared over an excellent Vouvray.