All's rosy at Le Runis

Le Rubis Tete de Veau

Some 30 years ago I remember wandering around the Marché Saint Honoré for what seemed like hours, trying to find the famed 1936 wine bar Le Rubis. I must have been circling the place, not the rue, but eventually found it, and fell instantly in love. Today the hangout remains virtually unchanged, just as boisterous, pushy, and old-fashioned, the spot for a bargain 11-euro platter of confit de canard (duck cooked in fat) and a thick potato gratin; meaty petit salé aux lentilles (braised salted pork with brown lentils), as well as a roborative and succulent tête de veau (braised calf’s head), served with boiled potatoes and the biggest portion of tangy sauce gribiche (mayonnaise with capers, cornichons, hard-cooked eggs, and herbs) that I have ever seen. (Photo)

Though Le Rubis is known for its wine, I found the Chiroubles ("mis en bouteille par l'acheteur" or bottled by the buyer) thin and forgettable. The cramped upstairs dining room is the sort of place where you can strike up a conversation with your neighbors (dining here is about as elbow-to-elbow as it gets) and we spent almost an hour chatting with the French teacher from Andorra who sat to my left, and the Irish-born architect from Sydney who was on my right, talking of everything from our shared love for Paris to the sadness of the brain drain of the young French. We left sated and satisfied, and you should too. In good weather you can lunch outdoors, standing at the wine barrels that serve as makeshift tables.

Le Rubis, 10, rue du Marché Saint Honoré, Paris 1. Tel: +33 1 42 61 03 34. Métro : Tuileries or Pyramides. Hot meal at lunch only. Closed Sunday.