It isn’t often a great Parisian restaurant changes hands and actually comes out the better for it, which is why the transformation of Chardenoux has come as such a delicious surprise. Ever since young chef Cyril Lignac, a well-known French food-television personality, added this beautiful old bistro to his growing stable of restaurants, it’s become one of the best modern bistros in Paris.

With its bevelled glass partitions, beautiful Belle Époque ceiling mouldings and vast tank of a zinc-topped bar just inside the front door, this century-old bistro in a residential corner of the 11th arrondissement that’s become a gourmet destination – Le Paul Bert, L’Ecailler du Bistro and Le 6 Paul Bert, three other favourite Paris tables, are just a few steps away – looks just the way everyone thinks that a Parisian bistro should.

Happily, this little gem is listed, too, but under Lignac’s direction, there’s nothing museum-like about the menu. Instead, he proposes an artfully executed and beautifully served selection of contemporary French dishes that nod at traditional bistro cooking while respecting a modern preference for lighter, healthier eating. Start off with a wonderfully autumnal dish of sautéed girolles mushrooms with a coddled egg and crushed roasted hazelnut or maybe a mauve slab of the beautifully made terrine de foie gras, which comes with a jaunty rhubarb-and-ginger chutney, and follow with a perfectly cooked steak with freshly made Béarnaise sauce and Dauphine potatoes or maybe miso-glazed cod with baby peas.

Conclude with some Corsican goat cheese with cherry-cinnamon marmalade or one of the better baba au rhum (sugar-syrup soaked brioche) with whipped cream and lashings of aromatic rum from Martinique. Excellent service and an interesting wine list add to the pleasure of a meal at a restaurant that’s a long-time Parisian favourite.

It’s worth noting that Chardenoux-des-Pres, the restaurent’s recently created Left Bank branch, doesn’t live up to the quality of the mothership.

Le Chardenoux, 1 rue Jules Vallès, 75011 Paris. Tel: +33 1 43 71 49 52. Open daily. Prix-fixe menu €39, lunch menus €22 and €27.

Based in Paris, restaurant columnist Alexander Lobrano has published a new book, Hungry for France, along with a new edition of his popular Hungry for Paris. Find these books and more in our bookstore.

From France Today magazine

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Alexander Lobrano
Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He was European Correspondent for Gourmet magazine from 1999 until its closing, and has written about food and travel for Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is the author of HUNGRY FOR PARIS, 2nd Edition (Random House, 4/2014), HUNGRY FOR FRANCE (Rizzoli, 4/2014), and MY PLACE AT THE TABLE, newly published in June 2021.

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