What a pleasure to dine in a restaurant with no attitude, no Let's Cook International menu, just good French food in good surroundings with service that is sincere, efficient and from the heart.
That's what I found on a recent evening at the six-month-old Restaurant Baptiste, where the chef Denis Croset and his associate, Jean-Baptiste Gay, are doing what the French do best, running a compact bistro where one might easily become a neighborhood regular.
Situated in the bourgeois neighborhood near Parc Monceau, the restaurant is a tasteful and simple restoration of a 1930s bistro, where the best parts - such as the colorful Art Deco tile floor - have been saved and modern touches, including comfortable upholstered chairs and fine linens, have been added.
The well-priced menu is contemporary and to the point, with such unfussy fare as a tossed green salad (thank you, chef) and such daily specials as a potato and codfish (cabillaud) salad. Main courses vary from a masterfully grilled rump of veal (quasi de veau) served with the tiniest of French green beans and fresh green asparagus, to a delicious grilled veal chop, set atop a mix of vegetables, all cooked to a tender confit. For dessert, classic crepes filled with cubed warm apples and raisins are in order.
The compact wine list includes a full, fruity, pleasing red Faugeres, Chateau Chenaie 1996, at 185 francs (about $26), as well as an ever satisfying red Saumur-Champigny, vieilles vignes, from Domaine de la Perruche, the 1997 priced at 130 francs.
51 Rue Jouffroy d'Abbans
Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday. Two-course menu at 148 francs and three-course menu at 180 francs. Credit cards: Visa, American Express.