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Robert et Louise

  • s

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.


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  1. u

    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 ;)

    Happy carnivorie


    1. This place sounds so good that I had to do some Googling. Here's a nice, short write-up of the place. Apparently, there are choices other than beef... just in case.

      Link: http://www.paris-update.com/restauran...

      1. b
        Bill Strzempek

        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.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bill Strzempek

          It's on the No Reservations show on Paris. I believe there's a film clip somewhere online (my sister sent me a link but I deleted it).

        2. 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.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: mondaybox

            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

            1. re: mondaybox

              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?

          2. 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.

            1 Reply
            1. re: francophony

              Does anyone know how late they serve there?

            2. I just ate there twice in late April of 2008. The entrecote was the best I'd ever had. The wooden carving boards they serve the meat on are wonderful, as are the pots of rock salt on the tables and the communal seating. The atmosphere is just fantastic and I'll go back. But be warned - word has indeed gotten out and we heard a lot of English while there. Here's the problem: they only take reservations for the first seating, so this is when folks from out of town are there. However, if you have a French cellphone and arrive early enough, they will take your number and call you when room becomes available. This is the way to do it because you'll arrive at 9:30 and by 10:15, the place is again packed, but this time only with locals. So there's the foreigners seating and the locals seating. If you want to try the latter, good luck: the second night I ate there I saw him turn away French and non-French alike after 8pm. But you know what? Even if you sit down at 7:30 amidst English and Spanish speakers, the food will still be great.

              1. I just ate at Robert et Louise on Sunday night. I loved the ambiance of the restaurant with it's informal communal tables and wood burning fire where all the meats are cooked. It is also a great place for Sunday dinner after walking around the Marias. I do recommend early dinner at about 7:30 as the place gets mobbed by 8:30. Also recommend asking for a table on the first floor where you can see the food being cooked over the fire when you make your reservation. Now for the food-I thought it was very good of what it is--not gourmet French food. All the meats cooked over the fire have a delicious taste. The fresh sausage appetizer is delicious with the French bread and strong mustard. For mains, I ordered the rib steak. It was on the thin side and I did have to cut around some fat but still had good flavor. My husband (not in the mood for beef) opted for the tiger shrimp which were tasty. The dishes come with salad in a simple dijon dressing and roti potatoes which I thought were very good. (the party of 5 next to us asked for 2 extra plates of them.) If I had it to do over again and I will go again, the steaks for two which everyone seemed to be ordering are the way to go. The steaks were much thicker and able to be cooked rare and looked great. This is a fun restaurant with a limited menu but very good at what they do in a great atmosphere. Cost of dinner with 1app, 2 mains, 1dessert 1 glass wine, 1bt. sparking water and 2 cafe was about 65 euros. Service was great. We walked out very happy.

                1. I am truly surpised that Gourmet mentioned this restaurant and at the positive comments I read on this board! Perhaps this was once a good restaurant but if that is the case is bears no resemblence to its old glories. This restaurant is the absolute tourist trap! The only thing it has going for it is its location, at the beautiful quartier Marais but with all the wonderful restaurant at the Marais I have no idea why anyone would choose to have dinner at 'Robert et Louise'. The 'speciality' i.e. beef ribs cooked on the wood burning fire place, was served cold, was tough and absolutely tasteless! the meat is served with some salad and potatoe wedges both of which lack any imagination in their preparation; potatoes are deep fried and green leaf salad is served with a little bit of vinaigrette. The meat is accompanied by the rude owner and vinegar-like wine. I would not go back even if Monsieur Robert offered me free dinners for a year.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mariloo

                    I don't disagree with that sentiment. To be fair though, meat is cold when you come for early service as they take the meat out of the fridge in the beginning of the service. One great thing they do is cooking the steak using veal kidney fat. As for the lack of imagination or innovation, not everybody thinks it is a flaw. It wouldn't be if the quality of the ingredients and the execution was better. The place has a way to feel like a French country house that is pretty unique, that said. Including the drafts.

                    Some pics: http://picasaweb.google.fr/ZeJulot/Ro...

                        1. re: souphie

                          Perhaps 'lack of imagination' does not point clearly to what I meant to say. Blunt/somewhat tasteless/ badly prepared is perhaps a better description. Indeed, quality of ingredients and execution - or the lack of these - are the problem. We went for dinner at 9.30 so I am not sure whether that is 'early service'. We sat on a table with another group of people who went for the duck and were equally unimpressed. Sure, there is a 'French country house' feeling but you can find that at a place which also serves quality food and there are plenty of those in Paris!

                    1. We ate the on Christmas Eve and loved it. It was one of our favorite meals in Paris. We went early, and sat at the common table and had a delightful time.

                      1. Unfortunately Bourdain's review may have ruined an old Paris restaurant. We reserved last June and were treated horribly; relegated to the tourist laden basement of group tables by a rude woman who refused to accommodate us anywhere else. Jammed in; we made the best of it with other tourists but the food was LOUSY. Overdone vegetables and potatoes, and the meat was so raw, not rare, we had to send back to her disdain - and we travel to France every year and enjoy their idea of rare beef. Run, don't walk to any other restaurant.

                        1. Robert & Louise, a place that's fun and unique in Paris! A very bistro look upstairs, accompanied by the interesting open fire oven in the back. Downstairs, a lovely surprise awaits, all brick, curved walls, and quirky decorations, lighting fixtures, even an old bike!

                          The only thing to get at R & L is the Cote de Boeuf. If you order this, you will not be disappointed. Anything else is pot luck. But what a steak this is! Absolutely huge, and so so tasty because of the special cooking done in that special oven. The huge portion is sliced perpendicularly and served for 2 on a huge wood plank. The roasted potatoes served with it are excellent.

                          Upstairs is fun because of the community dining, Francois tries to seat you with somebody interesting. We had a grand time the last time with 3 French guys, and we wound up chatting and drinking after the meal for 3 1/2 hours!!

                          Downstairs is a little prettier, very brick-cellar like, but it can be warm if the weather is also warm. You're dining at your own table here.

                          Place is "complet" every night, and it's no wonder, it's going strong for 50 years, back from the days when the Marais was a real swamp! Francois, the son in law of the original owner, runs the place for the last 8 years. Charming fellow.

                          This is not michelin star dining, but it's one hell of a lot of fun, and a heck of a great steak!!

                          1. you MUST sit upstairs!!! else you will miss all the fireplace cooked action. as for the salad and potatoes...the salad is simple butter lettuce and the potatoes are cooked in duck fat. what could be bad!! have a steak, not ribs. RELAX people! and enjoy this cozy, cool joint. i go every year.

                            p.s. Mr. Robert passed away so i doubt you will be getting anything from him Mariloo!

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: lexajo

                              I ate here in the Christmas week and while I enjoyed the open fire for cooking the steak, I did not think that steak was great. It was perfectly cooked however tasted a little like the hotplate (not in a good way like some good wok cooked dishes).
                              I loved the environment, had some good chacuterie and escargot, enjoyed good cop bad cop service, watched mum feed her boys grapes and gazed into the fire with snow on the streets.

                              1. re: PTG

                                "enjoyed good cop bad cop service"

                                Great phrase. May I steal it?

                                  1. re: PTG

                                    Btw, loved your blog, that is, until I came upon the piece on street food in Penang, one of my fave cities. Now I harbor deep bitter resentment against you...

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      Thank you - you are my third confirmed visitor after myself and my mum!

                                      That was my first trip to Penang which is shocking having lived in the region for 10 years. Next quick trip is to Malacca.

                                      1. re: PTG

                                        I am the 4th and also enjoyed it - now also living in the region (HK) so read your posts with interest.

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          And I yours - you cover my geography of Asia, Australia and mixed other.

                              2. re: lexajo

                                By upstairs do you mean ground level, one flight up from the basement ? I had no notion there was an upstairs at Robert et Louise.
                                The "interesting" section with the fireplace is very drafty, be prepared. The constant door-opening can produce severe chills. If you are there on a good day, the côte de bœuf (or entrecôte) will be perfect. Sometimes it's just too small.

                              3. Sally, my partner and I ate their last night (11th) and enjoyed it very much. We had no reservation, and it was packed full of locals. They accommodated us at the bar and then move us to a table when one opened up.
                                And yes it is all about the le bouf on the open hearth and the slabs of beef that are carried from the kitchen.

                                We started with foie gras ($14e) which was very good, followed by "beef surprise of the night," hanger (18e) and 300g ribeye (18e) both very tasty, but a gristly. Don't expect then finest, most tender cuts. It's as much about the experience and "feel" of the space, not so much the food, other than the slabs and smell of the beef.