Wed 15 Feb 2012
Wine-poached foie gras with onion chutney.
5, rue Henri Monnier, in the 9th Arrondissement.
01 45 26 26 30. Tues–Sat, 12 p.m.–2:30 p.m.;
7:30 p.m.–11 p.m.
When I’m walking around Paris, I’m always amazed at the number of bistros on every corner and everywhere in between. I wonder how they can all stay in business, and I’m equally curious when I continue to see new spots opening on a very regular basis. Les Affranchis recently joined the bevy of Paris bistros giving it a go in this city.
On the chefs’ side is a solid pedigree that includes time at Ledoyen, Hôtel Plaza Athénée and Hotel du Palais in Biarritz. Also in their favor is a welcoming dining room with large windows just across the street from a small square in the 9th. The night we went, the service was very friendly, as long as you could get the attention of one of the two people working the room. Granted, the servers certainly weren’t sitting outside smoking, but there was some significant lagtime after our mains were delivered.
Dinner started strong with a great selection of appetizers. The wine-poached foie gras was rich and it spread like butter on the crusty bread. The onion chutney was an added bonus to an already perfectly prepared dish. My appetizer was three great tastes in one: a crispy wonton-wrapped shrimp served with a citrus dipping sauce, a small bright cabbage salad and a shooter of dense, flavorful bisque. We were ecstatic after the first round, but little did we know we should have quit while we were ahead.
My main was a very promising braised pig cheek, and while the meat was extremely tender, there was absolutely no seasoning to be found. It was a lot to ask of the butter and bacon-cooked cabbage to carry the flavor of the entire plate. My friend had asked for her skirt steak medium rare, and it passed that point long before my pig even started its long braise, making for an especially chewy, flavorless ride.
We hoped to end on a high note—we were still rooting for this latest bistro—so we tried out the rice pudding and chocolate mousse. They hit better than the mains, but we never got back to appetizer excellence.
There’s definitely talent in the kitchen. I just hope they can even things out for a great meal from start to finish, and then we’ll have a Paris bistro here to stay.
In a nutshell: Les Affranchis is a promising neighborhood bistro, offering great entrées and menus for the money.
Price check: Two courses, 25 euros; three courses, 32 euros. Entrée, 9 euros; plat, 19 euros; dessert, 9 euros. (Lunch, 18 euros.)
If you’re tempted by Les Affranchis, you might really like L’Office. Read the review.
3, rue Richer, in the 9th. 01 47 70 67 31.
Dinner, Tues–Sat; lunch, Thurs–Fri. Closed Sun–Mon.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking trip, check out our DIY downloadable trips.