Everyone all over the world loves an old school bistro. These type of bistros in Paris are where we find that hearty, meaty, old fashioned goodness – like Grandma used to make. Well, my Grandma was Czech and made kolaches and other hearty Eastern European food but you get my drift.
In coming up with this I set some parameters, it was important that the bistro be at least 25 years old (most are much older) and still family owned.
No frills service, hearty food and the ubiquitous red-checked table cloths. Come hungry and try the foie gras and the beef cheeks.
(Photo see the 1st photo above) An expensive but authentic bistro that historically catered to businessman of the area serves giant portions of old fashioned goodness. Their own marinated herring has been on the menu since the 40’s.
Chez L’Ami Louis
When I first went I feared I was in a tripist trap – but thankfully I was surprised as this is still the real thing (since 1924). Yes a lot of tripists know about it but service is friendly and food generally impeccable. Famous for their roast chicken, but take care, things can fast get very expensive.
Ever since Alain Ducasse took over this legendary institution (yes, I’m cheating here as this is technically owned by a group) in the sixth he’s added a an expensive roasted chicken dish and other well executed items to the menu but the Duck with olives remains our favorite.
La Poule au Pot
On a cold rainy night head to this quaint little spot to warm up over their namesake, chicken in a pot with all the fixings. A small and welcoming dining room and a small and welcoming staff make this small bistro in the 7th a special secret.
Tucked into a corner of the Marais that most folks don’t see, sits this bistro from yesteryear. As soon as you sit down, out come the crocks of homemade rillettes and cornichons. Be sure to save room for your aligot, a specialty of the region, this mashed potato and cheese combo is next to heaven in my book.
Madison de La Lozere
This homey place which is actually housed next to the tripist office for the Lozere region has a cabin-like feel and offers excellent food from this meat-rich region. The cut your own bread loaves that come to the table are country-goodness itself. Go on Thursday night for the Aligot soirée.
Robert and Louise
This is as close to the old and friendly (IE Non-chic) Marais as you can find nowadays. Steaks are cooked on an open fire, they come out blood rare, smokey and delicious. Order anything on offer that’s cook au feu (on the fire).
This might be a tad to fancy and expensive to include here but I’m going to as it really is a comfort food place albeit only 26 years old. Owned by the Trip d’Argent folks but without all the hoopla, this family style bistro sits in plain view yet out of site. It’s a place you could easily miss and I had for years. The roasted chicken and the lamb for two are superb as is the cote du boeuf with bernaise. Order extra mashed potatoes, you won’t be sorry.
Where to find them:
Chez Denise; 5 Rue des Prouvaires, 75001 Paris 01 42 36 21 82
Chez L’Ami Louis; 32 rue Vertbois, 75003 Paris 01 48 87 77 48