Among the best of a superb new vintage of Paris wine bars, Les Fines Gueules is a boon for food and wine lovers on a limited budget. The name is slang for “fine palates,” the location is right in the city center and the keyword is quality. It offers a short but intriguing list of wines made from organically grown grapes and a regularly changing blackboard menu of dishes made with some of France’s proudest produce—butter from Jean-Yves Bordier in Saint-Malo, beef and veal from star butcher Hugo Desnoyers and vegetables from the city’s most vaunted grower Joël Thiébault, whose small farm is less than 10 miles from the Eiffel Tower. After a spectacular first meal here, I’ve been back many times, most recently with a friend from San Francisco who happily doesn’t mind sharing. We were elated by a salad of seasonal greens and aged Parmesan and a plate of outstanding charcuterie to start, followed by baked mackerel with late summer vegetables and the best steak tartare I’ve ever had, served with pommes de terre grenailles, tiny sautéed potatoes. Our shared cheese course—Comté, Camembert, chèvre and Roquefort—was not only excellent but generous enough for two, and our Saint-Joseph, a full-bodied Rhône Valley red, rates as one of the best bottles I’ve enjoyed in a long time.
43 rue Croix des Petits Champs, 1st, Métro: Pyramides, 01.42.61.35.41. €30 per person without wine
Originally published in the December 2007 issue of France Today.