Before I extol the aptly named Vivant, the new bistrot à vin of able and friendly restaurateur Pierre Jancou—founder of the very popular wine bar Racines—I’d warn you that it’s likely to be crowded and noisy and that the service, however good-natured, can be slow. Having dispatched with those caveats, I’ll say that I like the place enormously. First of all, the tiny hole-in-the-wall is one of the prettiest new restaurants to open in Paris for quite a while. Jancou had the good luck to come across this gem of a location in the rapidly gentrifying 10th arrondissement; he fell in love with it immediately, and renovated the beautiful Art Nouveau tile walls of the former bird shop with great care. The blackboard menu changes daily, but features delicious bona fide cuisine du marché using carefully sourced, finest quality produce, including organic vegetables from the farm of Annie Bertin in the Loire Valley.

Stopping in for dinner just a few days after it opened, two friends and I nibbled at a plate of freshly sliced prosciutto while sipping an unusual “natural” white wine from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy; Jancou once lived in Modena, and has an affection for both Emiglia-Romagnan produce and organic, biodynamic wines with no additives. A shared slab of duck foie gras with a brilliant garnish of finely sliced artichokes was excellent, and all of our main courses were delightful, too, including risotto with green asparagus, griddled poularde with root vegetables, and zampone (an Italian sausage made of pig’s trotters) with salad and very good potato puree. We shared a plate of perfectly aged taleggio and pecorino cheese with the rest of our wine, a nice Moulin-à-Vent, and everyone ended up wishing that this sweet little wine bistrot was just outside their front door.

43 rue des Petites Ecuries, 10th, €45 per person without wine

Originally published in the June 2011 issue of France Today

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