The current wine-bar boom is very good news indeed for anyone who wants to eat and drink well in Paris without spending a fortune. Most of these new places—including Frenchie Wine Bar and Vivant, among others—are run by a young generation of smart, shrewd food-lovers who take pride in serving great eats and sips in a convivial setting for a fair price, picking up the sorry slack left on the dining scene by the ongoing disappearance of the city’s traditional bistrots. These are good-times places where conviviality is on the menu along with imaginatively prepared, mostly French products.

The latest entry is Au Passage, tucked away in a tiny lane between the Bastille and the Place de la République. Run by a team that previously worked at chef Daniel Rose’s popular restaurant Spring, including the Australian-born chef James Henry, Au Passage offers a way to sample a similar sensibility without Spring’s hefty addition. Au Passage attracts a young crowd with its low prices and laidback style, but diners of all ages will feel welcome here. At dinner recently, a friend and I ate our way through their small-plates menu and reveled in some really good food, including a salad of grower Joël Thiébault’s vegetables with octopus and squid; a Catalan-inspired dish of seared tuna chunks, mussels and tomatoes with a light saffron and pimento mayonnaise; and the best dish of all, seared steak with kimchi-style pickles.

1 bis passage Saint Sébastien, 11th, 01.43.55.07.52. €30 per person without wine

Originally published in the October 2011 issue of France Today

Alexander Lobrano’s book Hungry for Paris is published by Random House. Find Hungry for Paris and more in our bookstore.

 

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