It’s always a pleasure to return to a restaurant you’ve loved for decades and find it virtually unchanged. And maybe even better than one remembers. That’s Chez George, the dream bistro just off the Place des Victoires. I am not sure, but it may be the first true Parisian bistro I dined in back in the 1970’s. What I do know is that the menu remains unchanged, the quality is there, and especially the hussle bustle of the dining room. Well-coiffed waitresses all but skate through the aisles of this long, narrow dining room with its mirrored walls and gothic columns, effortlessly delivering giant bowls of herring; searingly hot, garlic-scented snails; bowls overflowing with curly frisée greens, rich chunks of bacon, and perfect poached egg. Everywhere, a feeling of abundance, generosity, and the sound of good times. The crowd is young, French, chic, and the ochre-toned dining room easily brings one back in time. I loved the moist, parsley-rich jambon persillé (photo); the generous portion of tiny wild girolles mushrooms; the perfectly grilled sole; and moist and meaty steack de canard, paired with a mix of wild mushrooms. Desserts of profiteroles, tarte tatin, and millefeuille were just right. My only regret is that they were out of their tarte au citron by the time I placed my order. For a bistro, the wine list is extensive. There are plenty of bargin wines at 29 euros a bottle (the fruity red Cotes Roannaise is an ideal bistro wine), and this is one restaurant that still offers wine “by the meter” charging you only what you have consumed from the bottle. Some good value wines here include Graillot’s Crozes Hermitage; Olivier Leflaive’s white Montagny; and Dagueneau’s Pouilly Fumé.
CHEZ GEORGE, 1, rue de Mail, Paris 2. Tel: +33 1 42 60 07 11.Métro: Bourse/Sentier. Closed Saturday and Sunday. 40 to 70 euros, not including beverages.