Le Garde Temps
19 bis, rue Pierre Fontaine, in the 9th Arrondissement. 09 81 48 50 55.
Open Mon–Fri, noon–2 p.m. and 7 p.m.–10:30 p.m.; Sat, 7 p.m.–10:30 p.m.
There has been a lot of chatter in Paris and New York about the neighborhood just south of Pigalle. The words ruin and hipsters were thrown about. People were insulted, lengthy articles were exchanged and I was inspired to go check it out for myself. Wandering through the area locals teasingly refer to as SoPi had a strange effect on me. It made me hungry. With many Paris restaurants in the area, I popped into the first fairly decent one I stumbled across, lured in by the comfortable, open space.
It was a cold, early winter day, and I couldn’t resist the duck-based shepherd’s pie (hachis parmentier) announced on the blackboard at the door. Before even sitting down, I knew what I’d be ordering. As the waiter approached, I looked to my left and saw that there was a poêlée de cèpes on the menu, and my mind froze. I love sautéed mushrooms, but I needed some meat and potatoes if I was ever going to go back outside. I did what any reasonable girl would do and ordered both.
I placed my order and waited a few minutes, taking in the crowd. Given the current flap, I was expecting a bunch of twentysomething Brooklynites. Instead, I was surrounded by French businessmen, a local couple and a well-known actor who lived in the neighborhood and was clearly a regular. I didn’t hear a word of English.
The waiter arrived with a piping hot dish, waking me from my daydreams. Loving fungus like I do, I consider myself something of an expert, and this was the best poêlée I have had in memory. The mushrooms were the perfect texture, with an ideal balance of garlic tones to earthy flavors. My taste buds were in heaven, and I savored every bite.
The hachis parmentier came with a thin, crispy mashed-potato crust and lots of rich duck meat below, the perfect remedy for a gray Paris day. For dessert, I was torn between and interesting pear-quince crumble and a dark-chocolate moelleux, but had second doubts as I watched the actor lift his glass of rice pudding and start scraping every last bit onto his spoon, enjoying his dessert like a seven-year-old kid.
Price check: 16–35 euros.
In a nutshell: A small neighborhood bistro serving the season’s best without all the froufrou.
If Le Garde Temps sounds good, try Café Trama. Read the review.
83, rue du Cherche Midi, in the 6th Arrondissement.
01 45 48 33 71. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Le Garde Temps