American Daniel Rose, of Spring fame, has opened a nostalgic, classic French bistro in a landmark-worthy café near the Paris Bourse, with such traditional fare as pot-au-feu, calf’s head in ravigote, mackerel in white wine, and, of course, steak-frites. He is clearly moving against the current grain of bistronomy sites run by non-French chefs. And bravo!
He has a good head on his shoulders and a will to please, as well as a talent for knowing what people want to eat today. And he’s realistic. I so totally agree with a recent quote from him: “Food is 20% about cooking, 50% about buying, and the rest is cleaning up and organizing.”
I am a pushover for oysters of any kind, and his rendition of warm oysters broiled with a touch of spinach and a healthy dose of thick Normandy crème fraîche totally made my day. The serving was of three oysters, I could have easily had six!
The first-course salad of beets and smoked eel, bathed in a horseradish-rich cream made me feel very energetic, but I found the eel rather tough and out of place in this creation.
The pot-au-feu was totally satisfying, more of a modern and light version, blasted with fresh herbs and lime, offering a voluminous amount of fresh vegetables, including thick rounds of leeks and plenty of cabbage. Less convincing was his rendition of steak-frites, perfectly cooked but the beef was rather tasteless and without character. The frites however were crisp, delicious, welcome.
Desserts included a perfectly moist and successful autumn fig tart and a thyme sorbet that was, unfortunately, far too aggressively infused to be appealing.
Service is direct, friendly and quick. Giant rounds of gougère welcome you at the table, and the wine list offers many treasures, including my favorite Grenache-rich Domaine Saint Prèfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape from talented winemaker Isabelle Ferrando; Léon Barral’s always reliable red Faugères; and Lucien Crochet’s white Sancerre.
Although the décor and the space are classic bistro, with a long, narrow dining room and space so elbow-to-elbow you almost injure your neighbor, I would have preferred a lighter look than the olive-grey tones of the dining room. But I’ll be back, maybe even for breakfast, when they are open Monday through Friday from 9am.
La Bourse et La Vie | 12 rue Vivienne | Paris 2 | Tel: +33 1 42 60 08 83 | Métro: Bourse, Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre or Quatre Septembre | Open Monday through Friday 9am-2pm & 7-10pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday | 36-50€ at lunch and dinner | www.labourselavie.com