Wed 14 Dec 2011
3, rue Richer, in the 9th Arrondissement. 01 47 70 67 31.
Dinner, Tues–Sat; lunch, Thurs–Fri. Closed Sun–Mon.
This neighborhood bistro in the 9th—on a wonderful stretch of food real estate that includes Vivant and L’Orient d’Or—has been a Foodie Fave once before. But recently it got a slight makeover, plus an infusion of American blood in the kitchen, and I’d heard good things.
The room on this chilly night was dim, with the now de rigueur industrial bulbs, filaments glowing, illuminating the exposed brick walls, reflected in a smartly placed mirror along the back wall. There’s an attractive bar with a few seats for dining or a glass of wine. In short, it’s the global urban style that has now thoroughly infiltrated the Paris scene.
The food is also firmly of the moment, with a light touch and a clear seasonal bent. The offerings at L’Office are streamlined, with just three choices of starter, main and dessert. This may seem a little narrow, but the appeal on this menu is broad. “I would be happy to eat any of it,” I said to my friend Phyllis (of Paris Notebook), and she agreed.
Phyllis had a terrific dish of gnocchi in Gorgonzola sauce. The best gnocchi are so comforting that you forget how difficult they are to make; the bad ones remind you. I had a high-end bacon and egg: a hunk of crisp-skinned pork belly, a glossy yolk spilling out and mixing with the thickly reduced tomato sauce that was spread on the plate (it resembled carpaccio at first glance, a little culinary trompe l’oeil). Some young arugula and zippy red onion lightened things up.
The skin was perfect on my chicken, too, a great salty crust for the meltingly tender meat that surely benefited from a first round of sous vide cooking, accompanied by an earthy, rich mix of mushrooms. Phyllis had the lamb, served with sunchokes, nutty and well glazed with the pan sauce—all of it solid early winter fare too sophisticated to be called comfort food, but satisfying all the same.
A deep-dish apple tart (dare I call it a pie?) was too good not to finish, and the “diet dessert” (as I like to call it—there’s one on every menu) of rhubarb in phyllo with grapefruit sorbet was a good refresher.
The three-course menu goes for 32 euros—more than reasonable—and the service was friendly. Really the only thing missing from this meal was pretense.
In a nutshell: Offering market cooking in a cool space at a great price, L’Office is what a Paris neighborhood bistro looks like in 2011.
Price check: Two courses, 27 euros; three courses, 32 euros. Wines starting at 22 euros, with more than a dozen priced at 35 and under.
If you like the sound of L’Office, you’ll also like Frenchie, but so does everyone. Read the review.
5–6, rue du Nil, in the 2nd. 01 40 39 96 19.
Mon–Fri, 7:00 p.m.–10:30 p.m.
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