The Bistro is Back: La Bourse et La Vie

15 September 2015

“Where can I eat traditional French food in Paris”? This is a question I have fielded frequently in recent weeks as a surge of travelers prepare their itineraries for an autumn getaway in Paris (my favorite time), but it is one that has become distinctly more challenging to answer. In fact, I can count on one hand the positive dining experiences I have had in the last year at establishments where more traditional dishes figure front and center on the menu. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, many traditional or “old school” brasseries and bistros have cut corners in recent years in order to ease the brunt of high social charges, labor costs and pricey commercial spaces. This means they’re excising homemade quality to rely on canned ingredients and frozen meals that simply need to be microwaved. As a visitor, especially one who may not have researched all of their meals in advance, it’s not always an easy task to discern whether the restaurant you’re considering will live up to the image of culinary excellence you have probably constructed in your mind. The bistro, known for classic dishes like steak-frites and pot au feu, among many others, has become […]…

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1 May 2012

Saturday afternoon, the 15th consecutive day of rain and unseasonal cold, I huddled into Jeanne A to catch up with a friend.  The previous evening, she and her husband had their first experience at Frenchie – the ne plus ultra of Paris néo-bistrots and one of the hardest spots in the city to score a reservation. While they couldn’t deny the exceptional value for such beautifully fresh, imaginative plates, they were put-off by the entirely English-speaking crowd – a ubiquitous reality for today’s top tables once they’ve made the rounds in international press. So when my friend Sasha (Savoir Faire) booked us a table at the freshly-opened new venture from Saint-Germain stalwarts Juan Sanchez and Drew Harré (the duo behind Cosi, La Dernière Goutte and Fish), I feared we were in for a similar fate. Semilla sits right across the street from Fish, the popular restaurant and petri dish for expats, where english voices bellow from rustic, communal tables. I had only read a few tidbits about this new place prior to going (all promising) but I wasn’t expecting to find myself among a mixed crowd. Semilla proved me wrong (hooray!). The stone-walled dining room welcomed a predominantly French group […]…

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