In the mood for meat

Faux Fillet Jeu de Quilles

If you want to sample the meat sold to the star chefs of France, but do not want to cook it yourself or pay sky-high prices at a restaurant, the best bet is to take a look at the remarkable display at Hugo Desnoyer’s incredible butcher shop in Paris’s 14th arrondissement, then move one step further into the appealing wine bar next door, Le Jeu de Quilles. The tiny, friendly, open spot offers Desnoyer’s lamb from Aubrac, beef from the Auvergne and Normandy (photo), succulent pork, as well as fresh langoustines and razor clams, heirloom tomato salad, and a carefully selected list of wines, including well-priced Chateauneuf-du-Pape offerings from some of the top growers, including Marcoux and Giraud; Côtes-du-Rhône from Gramenon; Morgon from Foillard and Chiroubles from Descombes. The sturdy, moist country bread comes from baker Dominique Saibron. Owners Benoit Reix and Romulaud Le Comte act as though they are welcoming you into their homes, with a friendly table d’hôte as well as tables for twos, threes, and fours. The wine bar is spotless, the meat all gorgeous, but I am certain that flavors would be improved with more careful seasoning, a bit more searing, and a little rest time, to allow each ingredient to reach its full potential. I loved the idea of an apricot Tatin, but, alas, the fruit was cooked too long and began to approach a bitter edge. But I’ll go back: The place is too easy, friendly, and generous not to. (And do take note of the beautiful knives used in the wine bar, all made in the Perceval Atelier in Thiers in the Auvergne. They can be purchased next door at the butcher shop as well as on line at

JEU DE QUILLES, 45, rue Boulard, Paris 14. Tel: +33 1 53 90 76 22. Métro: Mouton-Duvernet. Closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday.  25 euro menu.

Everything is good at Que du Bon

Quedubon 1 4 11

Another short, grey, chilly day in Paris so the only solace was  to tuck into some warming bistro fare. When I heard that bistrotier Gilles Bénard had left one of our favorite bistros, Chez Ramulaud in the 11th, for a small and no frills spot in the 20th near the Parc de Buttes Chaumont,  I headed over there. And was I rewarded! Another simple but great bistro to add to the list.

How to decide between the braised oxtail with orange and an avalanche of fragrant and delicious carrots and baby turnips; moist roast pork with mounds of soft and succulent cabbage; farm chicken with braised endive? As the oxtail and pork arrived, warming aromas wafted from the table, it was time to salivate, and tuck in. A few glasses of Jean Foillard’s raspberry-rich Morgon Côtes de Py helped take off the January chill, and we smiled in self-satisfied contentment at our choices. The food was not just bon, but the carrots tasted like the best carrots I’ve ever had (and I am not a carrot fan), the oxtail was properly falling off the bone, and braised to perfection, the ideal example of the famed Maillard effect on meat. Likewise, the pork had backbone and personality, perfect texture.

At Ramulaud, I always looked forward to the generous cheese course, and remember envying their little wooden cheese house on wheels. At Quedubon, Bénard offers a small choice of three cheeses, but what quality! It has been years since I tasted Morbier, the cow’s milk cheese from the Jura with its thin strip of ash in the center. All too often it resembles Velveeta and has about as much taste. This one was aromatic, lactic, beautifully made and perfectly aged. Likewise for the aged Comté, fruity and memorable.

The giant blackboard lists up to 150 different wines, including Richard and Couturier from the Southern Rhone, Chave from Hermitage, Leccia from Corsica, and more.

When I took a look at the price on the blackboard set before us, I thought that my eyes needed a quick checkup. Could that be correct? 14 euros for a hearty main course and dessert or cheese? A huge 16 euros if you are REALLY hungry and prefer a first course, main, and dessert or cheese. I’ll be back, for sure.

Quedubon, 22, rue du Plateau, Paris 20. Tel 33 1 42 38 18 65. Métro : Buttes-Chaumont.  Closed Saturday lunch, all day Sunday, and  1 week in winter.