20 rue Rousselet, 7th
Mº Duroc, Vaneau
Tél 01 45 66 88 23
These days, everyone is looking for a bargain. The economic downturn/recession/crisis has certainly affected dining-out budgets around the world. Which is why it is such a delightful surprise to find one such bargain in Paris’ swanky 7th arrondissement, of all places. Olivier Astier’s homey, convivial restaurant is a wonderful place for a hearty, classic Southwestern French meal that won’t cause a crisis in your bank account.
Upon entering, you are welcomed warmly and immediately. Do partake of a kir or pastis for your apéritif (€3-5), it will be served with a small dish of excellent dried sausage and beautiful walnuts. And then the fun really begins. For anyone with a foie gras tooth, the starter menu is a dream come true. No less than eight preparations are offered, and all are quite reasonably priced, ranging from €9.35 for the simplest bloc de foie gras with sweet cubes of Monbazillac gélée to €36.70 for “grandmother’s foie gras” for four. Each table is equipped with a toaster, so each diner can toast the bread to their liking before slathering it with the good stuff. There is also a selection of pâtés (€4-9) and salads (€5-7) for those who are not seduced by the foie gras menu.
Moving on to the main course, if you like duck and potatoes, you’ll be a happy camper. The cassoulet (€12.50) is made with perfectly seasoned duck confit (they do it all in- house) and big, creamy white beans that almost steal the show. The pommes de terre salardaises (potatoes sautéed in goose fat) have a great balance of fluffy and crunchy textures, and are delicious whether served with confit duck leg (€9.55) or sautéed duck breast (€11.60). A note on the magret (duck breast): ordering it à point will result in rarer meat than one might expect, so be sure to clarify your desired doneness with the waiter, who will be only too willing to help.
As for the wine list, it features selections from the Southwest of France, a region rife with value wines. All the wines are priced in accordance with the menu (read: fairly inexpensive), though the best deals are to be found by the pichet. Look for Minervois and Cahors, two bold reds that pair very well with the robust cuisine.
Cheeses and desserts are all in the €4 range, and in keeping with the Southwestern theme, feature walnuts on almost every plate. The Coupe Corrézienne, a sundae with chestnut cream and walnut liqueur (€4.95), is a crowd-pleaser, but it’s hard to go wrong with the crème brûlée (€3.90).
You can imagine that a place like this is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, so be sure to reserve in advance, especially for parties larger than four or on weekends.