Robert et Louise
Just got my issue of Gourmet yesterday and they mention this restaurant in the Marais, in Paris. Their description looked very good. Looking for more testimonial before adding it to my itinerary for my spring visit.
Yup, Robert and Louise is great...if you know what you are getting into. Here is the deal, their kitchen is very limited, in fact, I think the only thing that comes out of the kitchen is potatoes, lettuce, and escargot. But that is not the reason you go to Robert and Louise, you go for the hearth cooked BEEF!
I stumbled upon Robert and Louise one Nuit Blanche when I accidently entered through the back door (which incidently leads to a very 'quaint' historic alleyway) and was greeted by a full-on side of beef sitting on a chopping block. From the menu, you can order a couple of different cuts, most come only in two-person sized portions. They then lop your steak off of the side of beef and cook it on the wood fired hearth then serve it on a wood plank with either potatoes or salad. They make one of the best steaks I have had in Paris, easily, and it is really a unique experience.
As a note, STAY AWAY FROM THE LITTLE WHITE POODLE that scavenges around for scraps. I literally saw it bite a guy in the face that was leaning down to give it a morsel. It must have mistaken the poor fella's cheek for a nice filet ;)
This restaurant was featured on Anthony Bourdain's television show not too long ago, it looked good enough re: food and atmosphere that I jotted down the name and researched it on the web to find out where it was. I'm wondering how many other Yanks did the same thing and if the place will be overrun with non-locals, especially if Gourmet is also featuring it.
i went there this past sunday night and had a great meal. i'd been in france for a week, split between paris and chinon, in the loire valley. i'd had all meals of things on my trip, including in some michelin-rated places (au plaisir gourmand), various well-known bistrots and brasseries (allard, lipp), and a few other nice places, but after eating at robert et louise i was quite happy that this was my last evening meal of my vacation.
i had heard of it on anthony bourdain's show, like many here, i'm sure. the place was full of non-locals (though it was an early hour, 7pm, when we stopped by without a reservation - didn't want to take a chance on arriving later without one) - some americans, irish, english, aussies. this must be de riguer, as the staff had pretty good english when my measly french failed me. yeah, it would have been nice to have been surrounded by locals, but the food stood out on its own, and the ambience was charming - well worn, lots of copper pots, drawings and sketches on the walls, and with some shared tables, and some single ones - and, (to me) unusual: what made it particularly interesting was how much was actaully cooked in an open wood-burning fireplace, on a stove top with (i think) a grill and griddle. there was also a small kitchen for preparing their ubiquitous sauteed potatoes, as well as omelettes, and the salads. they were even preparing some future duck confit in a le creuset oven on top of the fire while we were there.
i wanted some of my bistrot comfort foods, and started with six escargots. my girlfriend had the boudin noir. both delicious, both cooked on the wood stovetop. i'd had escargots, or tasted someone else's, a few times on my trip, and i think these were the best ones i'd had. the boudin noir was really nice too - a little sweet, and nicely charred in places.
for main course i had duck confit, again the best of my whole trip (i'd had it twice previously in paris either on its own or in cassoulet) - a very big piece, nicely crispy, a little caramelized here and there, very tender and flavorful. very nice sauteed potatoes and some dressed green leaves came with it. my girlfriend had the daily special, which was roast pork, also delicious - a big chunk, nicely flavored with herbs, very moist and tender. we ordered a side of some nice sauteed wild mushrooms. i didn't push the boat out on the wine, just ordered a 25cl pichet of the house red for myself (my girlfriend doesn't drink), which went down nicely. the couple beside me at our shared table had a steak for two, and it looked fantastic. the cheeseboard also looked quite good, though we decided to leave room for ice-cream as we walked around later on.
i'd go back for sure my next visit, as many other places as there are waiting for me to discover. a tiny bit of you may feel it is a bit touristy with the way it looks like a textbook bistrot, and with so many non-locals (maybe depending on the time you go) but just let the food speak for itself, and enjoy the delightful atmosphere. but i just loved it!!!
(photos below are, left to right: escargots, boudin noir, duck confit, and roast pork.)
almost two years after my visit described above, i paid another visit. sadly, it was like night and day over my first visit.
from my blog: "... Long story short, my meal of duck confit was a disaster (I'll say the sausage [appetizer] was very nice, but the service was appaling, including taking ages to tell us the bottle of wine we ordered was not in their cellar, and then charging us for it later in addition to the one we drank). The duck skin was pale, fatty, and flabby. It seemed to have been steamed instead of grilled, or else heated slowly in very indirect heat (perhaps it was from a fresh batch of duck confit, taken immediately from the cooking vessel?). To add insult to injury, the sauteed potatoes I was served were made of small boiling potatoes, not the variety they normally use (that I'd had two years prior, and were actually served to the couple beside us). Who makes a successful sauteed potato with that variety of spud? Oh, and there was no dressing on my salad. Now, often I don't like dressing on my salad, but I do like the kind of standard "house dressing" that most French bistrots tend to serve on on their salad - a light oil, wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and salt & pepper."
not sure what happened - i'm polite, i try speaking a little french, etc. the place was full of french people eating with gusto. now, perhaps french people who aren't good eaters DO exist, i guess it is possible. anyway, i'm steering clear in the future. way too many places to visit next time i'm in paris.
Mark D. Smith
New York City
I'm sorry to hear this. My son is studying in Paris and my husband and I will be visiting him in early May. Being a student, he's not eating a lot of steak and I thought this would be a good place.
Has anyone else had a similar bad experience or could this have been and off night?
This restaurant is amazing and offers a truly authentic "French" experience (albeit definitely not a modern one). It used to be run by a (very) old couple; sadly the husband passed away, but it's definitely still a family affair, down to the creaky old French poodle who roams the place at will. I only despair that word's getting out about it; it used to be an undiscovered secret gem.