At a time when restaurant prices in Paris have been rising at an alarming rate, Le Bistro des Gastronomes in the Latin Quarter is a standout, offering delicious contemporary French bistrot cooking at very reasonable prices. The simple dining room in the Latin Quarter isn’t likely to win any awards for decor, but the service is exceptionally friendly and chef Cédric Lefèvre is an earnest, gifted, hard-working chef with admirable technical skills and a lot of gastronomic esprit. Tipped off to the place by a friend who lives nearby, I went to dinner with a pal visiting from Boston, and our meal got off to an excellent start with two impressive appetizers—a generously served terrine de campagne, and couteaux—razor shell clams—with a zesty garlic-and-parsley persillade, accompanied by finely sliced, freshly fried potatoes.
Our main courses were similarly generous and appealing. I was surprised to find five Erquy scallops on my main-course plate, since many restaurants now try to get away with giving you only three or even two; they were cooked to perfection and nicely garnished with a celery root puree. Free-range pork was tender and flavorful, and the two of us devoured a freshly made apple tart, served with homemade vanilla-praline ice cream and tasting spoons of melted salt caramel, crème anglaise and apple purée. Gastronomes will definitely delight in this contemporary French cooking at its impressive best.
10 rue Cardinal Lemoine, 5th, 01.43.54.62.40. Fixed-price menu €35, à la carte €40. Prices are approximate, per person without wine.
Originally published in the June 2011 issue of France Today