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