Wed 28 Dec 2011
Salad with apples, Roquefort, and pancetta.
80, rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, in the 10th Arrondissement.
01 42 46 02 44. Tues–Sat, noon–2 p.m. and 7–10 p.m.
If you’ve been to Fish, a much-loved Paris bistro and wine bar in St.-Germain, there will be plenty that’s familiar about Albion, a new cave à manger run by former Fish barman Hayden Clout and chef Matt Ong (from New Zealand and England, respectively). Above all, there’s Hayden’s easy but professional style, loved by regulars on rue de Seine, but also the menu, which reads like most I’ve encountered at Fish.
I met two friends for dinner on a cold night last week. We checked out the space, chatted with Hayden and then tucked in. A robust cold-weather salad—heaped with apples, walnuts, Roquefort and rounds of crisp pancetta—was delicious, “the kind of thing I want for lunch every day,” as one pal said. The foie gras terrine was silky, comme il faut, served with a nutty dark toast. I wish the salmon had been cooked a minute less, and the slices of chorizo that garnished it a little thinner, but I loved the braised sucrine (like tight little romaine hearts) it came with, and the skin on the salmon was nice and crisp. The pork was a touch dry, too—always a risk with the small tenderloin (filet mignon)—but nearly rescued by a sweet mass of caramelized onions. For dessert we went full-on English and all ordered the fine lemon posset, a tangy cooked cream that thickens into a pudding when it’s chilled, here served with respectable shortbread. We didn’t leave a bit behind.
Salmon with braised sucrine and chorizo.
We drank a bright and burnished Cheverny, among other things, from the evolving wine stock. The glass pours are appealing, too, priced as low as 4 euros.
By Paris standards the room is huge, decorated in shades of gray, with matte wood floors, plenty of space between the tables, windows onto an interior courtyard and a view into the kitchen. The front is dedicated to retail, with shelves of bottles facing an attractive bar, used primarily for service. The crowd was mostly French. In this neighborhood, I don’t think they’ll attract quite as many Anglos as Fish does, in spite of its name: Albion is an old Greek word for England, as in “perfidious Albion,” a pejorative epithet used by Britain’s rivals (including France) for centuries.
In a nutshell: There’s nothing perfidious about this Albion, a straightforward neighborhood bistro à vins offering decent contemporary food, well-priced wine and warm service.
Price check: Starters, 7–12 euros; mains, 15–17.50 euros; dessert/cheese, 7–12 euros.
If Albion sounds good, chances are good you’ll like Fish la Boissonnerie.
Fish la Boissonnerie
69, rue de Seine, in the 6th.
01 43 54 34 69.
Lunch and dinner every day.
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