Allard © Facebook, Ducasse Paris

This intimate bistro with two dining rooms decorated with flowered wallpaper in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés has been a benchmark for excellent bistro cooking ever since the doors opened here in 1932. Now owned by chef Alain Ducasse, it’s just been kitted out with anti-Covid safety measures to allow it to continue to serve customers in an intimate setting as long as the French government deems it safe for restaurants to remain open during the pandemic.

I hadn’t eaten here for some time, because like so many traditional Parisian bistros, its prices have reached a level of special-occasion indulgence, with an average meal costing around €100 a head before drinks and wine.

What I discovered during my lunch here in June, my first meal out since lockdown, is that young chef Pauline Berghonnier is continuing the tradition of a woman in the kitchen at this renowned address with considerable talent, as she produces some truly superb old-school bistro cooking.

 

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We sampled much of the menu, beginning with a selection of succulent starters that included duck foie gras, escargots, tomato salad with fresh goat curd, and a magnificent pâté en croûte by Parisian charcutier Arnaud Nicolas, a meilleur ouvrier de France.

Next, tiny piping-hot frogs’ legs in garlicky butter with finely chopped parsley came to the table, and these meaty little drumsticks, each of which offered just a small nugget of tender meat, were irresistible. Main courses included two house classics, Challans duck roasted golden with a garnish of green olives and one of the best roast chickens to be found anywhere in Paris, served with garnishes of tiny roasted potatoes and haricots verts.

Profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce and a savarin (sponge cake) with rum and whipped cream concluded this feast, a meal I had been deeply craving without knowing just how much I had been yearning for this kind of honest, simple French food. After the trauma and the tragedy of going without restaurants for three months, this was the cooking I wanted, food that was earthy, eternal, excellent and generously served without any extraneous bells and whistles. Coming to the table as I did with a ravenous hunger, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in Paris.

Address:

41 rue Saint-André des Arts, Paris 75006.
Tel. +33 01 43 26 48 23
Average à la carte €100
www.restaurant-allard.fr/en

From France Today magazine

Want to be inspired by more French foodie experiences and enjoy classic French food, wine and recipes? Head to our sister website, Taste of France, here.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Your article brings back such fond memories of several wonderful times at Allard.. One cold winter day we ordered the canard with green olives. A feast to be hold! Nothing could be better than that.

  2. I went YEARS AND YEARS ago (1982), when Allard was then led by what the Parisians called the best woman chef in the city, Marthe Allard. It was more of a true bistro then – so wonderful and simple. I’m sure it is still great – but I think I may want to keep the memory of that full plate of delicately sauced fish will remain unchanged!

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