Sablé aux fraises with mascarpone.
La Régalade Saint-Honoré
123, rue St.-Honoré, in the 1st Arrondissement.
01 42 21 92 40.
Lunch and dinner, Mon–Fri.
The original La Régalade became well known under the ownership of Yves Camdeborde, whose career was one of many ships launched by Christian Constant. Instead of continuing in the galleys of haute cuisine, Camdeborde took his formidable talent to the next-to-last stop on metro line 4 and opened a bistro serving seasonally minded, generous food at gentle prices. He sold it to chef Bruno Doucet in 2004, but La Régalade has never stopped drawing praise, and foodies have never stopped making the pilgrimage to this early bastion of bistronomy.
Now right-bankers have a La Régalade of their own: Doucet just opened on rue St.-Honoré in the 1st—good news for those who want to fill their bellies near the old belly of Paris.
The new space doesn’t quite have the soul of the oddly shaped, slightly cramped location in the 14th, but the food certainly does. Anyone who has ever been to La Régalade will remember the terrine maison and cornichons left at the table for the taking, and I’m happy to say that this is still standard practice. Eat it, but don’t eat too much: a three-course meal is obligatory here, and you’ll want the space.
To start, I considered the scallops marinated in olive oil with basil and Parmesan, but I decided on green asparagus dressed with zippy herbs and mingled with sweet prawns—delicious. Morels, looking more like a side dish at a family dinner than a first course, sat in creamy sauce and demanded another basket of bread. The delicate tart of mackerel, with its verticality and squeeze-bottled sauces, seemed overdressed for this party, but its flavor was as down to earth and satisfying as everything else.
Two different bottles of pinot blanc from Domaine Ostertag, one of my favorite Alsatian producers, washed all of this down nicely.
For the main course, I again thought about seafood: both the daurade with piment d’Espelette and the cod with herbed broth and young spinach sounded good on a warm spring night, but I caved and ordered the braised paleron (chuck) of veal, served well glazed in its own sauce, with Provençal touches of tomato and basil. I could have eaten it with a spoon, it was that tender. A perfectly saignant (rare) entrecôte pleased the men at the table. The star, though, was the poitrine de porc with lentils. I had this dish at my last meal at the original location and was glad to see it on the menu here. Not for the cholesterol conscious, this thick slab of pork belly with beautifully crisp skin was as delicious as I had remembered.
Poitrine de porc with lentils.
I love rice pudding, but riz au lait after so much food is tough to swallow even if it is in the style of someone’s grandmother or mother. A sablé (sugar cookie) with strawberries and mascarpone was excellent, if not much lighter, and seasonal fruit appeared again in a pain perdu with strawberry-rhubarb compote. Dueling pots-de-crème of vanilla and chocolate were a bit precious in their presentation but nonetheless delicious.
These new digs are in a decidedly more fashionable quartier than the original, and there are signs—from some funky-shaped plates to the bright-striped banquette—that La Régalade is trying to fit in with its newer, posher neighborhood. In spite of that, the price of a meal remains low: three courses are just 33 euros, with a few supplements here and there for special items.
That’s a bargain for food this good in any neighborhood.
In a nutshell: La Régalade Saint-Honoré brings its classic neo-bistro fare to the 1st Arrondissement while maintaining 14th Arrondissement value.
Price check: Entrée, plat and dessert for 33 euros, with a wide range of wine prices.
If you like the sound of La Régalade Saint-Honoré but prefer your neo-bistros with a little outer-arrondissement cred:
49, ave Jean-Moulin, in the 14th.
01 45 45 68 58.