When I want a fabulous, juicy steak and crispy fries that seem to have been touched by an angel, I pick up the phone and hope for a booth at William Bernet’s Le Severo, a modest 10-table bistro in the 14th arrondissement. I doubt that any Parisian restaurateur understands meat, particularly beef, better than Bernet, a longtime butcher who meticulously selects, then painstakingly ages his own meat. If your budget can afford it (it’s worth saving up euros for this one!) order the dry-aged beef, here hung for more than 100 days, four times the normal aging period. Priced at 210€, it is meant to serve 3 to 4 diners, easily. What do we get out of all this? In Bernet’s hands, a superior cut of beef that is seared to create a crisp and fiery black crust, revealing an ultra-tender, juicy interior. For me, this re-defines steak, a perfection of dense and fragrant crispness contrasted with a moist and tender center. (When beef is dry-aged at near freezing temperatures, moisture is evaporated from the muscle, creating a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste.) The mild-mannered Bernet is ferocious in his selection of his animals, searching far and wide throughout Europe for the finest, often sourcing them in Germany and Spain.
Back to the table however... Not only does Le Severo serve the best aged beef in Paris, but some of the most delicious French fries, golden, firm, as though they had been coated with angel dust, making for crispy, crunchy delights.
Other treats on the menu include the pungent mixed green salad from the gardens of salad queen Annie Bertin; an incomparable steak tartare, seared veal steaks, boudin noir (blood sausage) from chef Christian Parra, and an expertly chosen wine list, including the treasure we enjoyed on my last visit: Domaine du Clos du Caillou’s Châteauneuf du Pape les Quartz, a rich, highly perfumed red (think raspberry, black peppercorns, and spice) a Grenache-based wine from sandy soils, making for a gem with exceptional elegance and polish.
Le Severo | 8 rue des Plantes | Paris 14 | Tel: +33 1 45 40 40 91 | Alésia or Mouton-Duvernet | Open Monday - Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday | A la carte 30-85€ | Reservations essential.
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Black and white photos by Gianluca Tamorri. Do not reproduce without permission.