Philou: the good new days

Pig's Cheeks and Celery Root Boulangere Philou

Modern Parisian bistros know no bounds these days. It's not possible that diners ate better in the “good old days.” Today food is fresher, unmasked, and more wholesome. The bright and lively Philou, home of Philippe Damas ( last seen at Square Trousseau) is a case in point. Damas offers old-time ingredients – like pig’s cheeks and calf’s liver – and serves them up with a simplicity and freshness that is thoroughly appealing. He pairs slow-cooked, moist and meaty pig’s cheeks (photo) with a tangy celery root boulangère (baked in a gratin dish with nothing but chicken stock until all the stock is absorbed) and cooks calf’s liver like a giant piece of meat, with a deeply seared outer crust and moist, rosy interior. I also loved the beautifully marinated fresh sardines, paired with a julienne of apples and set on a bed of warm, bathed potatoes. The choice of wine is excellent : Try the superb 2006  Côtes du Rhone, Vieille Julienne, so rich and powerful it could easily pass as a Châteauneuf du Pape. The tiny place off the Canal Saint Martin  is super loud,  super fun, and a super bargain.

Philou, 12, Avenue Richerand, Paris 10. Tel: +33 1 42 38 00 13. Métro: Jacques Bonsergent. Closed Sunday and Monday. 25 euro menu.