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Dec 23, 2011 03:33 AM

A few Paris wine bars

There are no lots an lots of great wine bars or wine shops with food in Paris, it really seem to be one of the trends. Here is our selection over a few days in Paris this Christmas:

Albion: out in the wilds of the 10eme comes the new venture from Hayden and Matt who were the barman and chef at Fish respectively. They have only been open a few weeks but seem to be establishing themselves. As before Hayden is great on the wine recommendations with some very interesting wines to try. The menu is still quite limited with three starters and three mains, the salad starter was really good. It an interesting area to open in, slightly away from the tourist mainstream but with good company close by L'Office and Vivant and not too far from Frenchie. A couple of mains and starters with some decent wine came to €95 which is fair value.

Verjus Wine Bar is just off the Palais Royal and is the new venture from the US chefs who ran the Hidden Kitchen. This area is turning into a real wine bar heaven with Juveniles (Tim's daughter runs the bar), Willies plus two or three others within 100 meters of each other. Verjus' wine bar as a very short tapas menu (full restaurant menu upstairs) with 5 choices and cheese and a very short list by the glass of about 8 wines. These are interesting, but not really great selections. The food is "US diner revival" which seems to be a global trend having seen similar in Sydney, HK and London this year. Good fried chicken and coleslaw, very interesting broccoli with anchovy and korean rice cakes, some OK belly pork, and some quite one dimensional celeriac won-ton dumplings. Overall, it is OK but it could be anywhere, nice for a change if you live in Paris but maybe too international for a visitor. However, the bar food shows quite a lot of promise so I would expect good things from the restaurant and may add it to the list ext time. Note: it is expensive €65 for four small tapas plus four glasses of wine.

After Verjus we headed for Frenchies wine bar which in comparison was packed. It is small but efficiently run and we were soon seated. The food is amazing, it isn't really classical French but it is French bobo food. The mortadella, mache and truffle starter was moreish, a speck and raddicio salad had wild flavours cashing and bouncing around in a great way and the terrine was just as it should be. To finish we had a cake which was the love child of the tarte tatin and cheesecake - dense cheesy with caramelised sticky apple on the top. A bottle of Santaney and a glass of red bought the bill to €80 which is good value for this level of cooking. That said this followed Verjus so €145 for the evenings food and wine.

Au Passage, is it a wine bar r is it a bar with food. Who cares it is superb. Sitting in a pretty edgy area just of the Marais it is trek from the centre, but a worthwhile trek. We took pot luck and headed there without a reservation on a wet and cold Monday lunchtime. It was packed with two sittings and a full bar. We were lucky and scored a no-show - I think the owner liked the amount or organic beer i consumed whilst waiting (it was great but don't recall the name). It is was a short lunch menu with one starter, a choice of main an cheese and/or dessert. The first starter had run out so instead we had choucroute with cockles which was interesting and no doubt a improvisation. For main, a steak tartere with great chunky cut beef (not minced), and no invasive Worcestershire sauce or tabasco. We then has some good cheese to finish. Total bill including three glasses of wine and five beers was €49. Good food, young and funky place and great prices.

Le Avant Comptoir is a small wine bar that probably take about ten people with comfort. But a wet Sunday there are probably thirty people crammed in. Its loud squeezy and good fun but it was too full to eat so we drank and watched. Probably a good place for a crepe as that't what most people were eating during our visit - not a place for a relaxed time and nowhere to sit not even a stool.

Our last new wine bar was Le Dauphin out in the 11eme, this place is hyper trendy, with lots of white marble and mirror - it reminded us of a posh toilet in a 5 star hotel. Now Paris by Mouth has this as a no reservation place but it isn't. At 7:30 on a Wednesday every seat was booked including the bar stools. Despite very frosty service we decided to wait and have a glass of wine, but even this was an ordeal as we clearly were not cool enough. However, we stood our ground and eventually got a seat and a drink. The food was interesting, tandoori squid, cerviche in cucumber water, crisp chicken, some fried dim-sum with very livery filling, and some raw brussels sprouts with wagyu carpaccio. The food is good and interesting but it should be at €125 (although that included a very drinkable bottle of Morgon).

And finally the old venerable Fish. We only had a quick drink here and caught up with the news. The new wine bar (opposite) is progressing slowly after building work discovered problems. The new kitchen team for the new wine bar in currently working the main Fish kitchen and the new chef (currently at a local 2 star) joins early next year hopefully to coincide with the opening of the new wine bar. I understand they plan different menus at both and with such a new talent in the kitchen it will be a place to watch.

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    1. re: Maximilien

      Yes - i wsh i had taken a photo of the tap so i could tell you what it was - their other beer was steaight Cruzacampo i think. It was good a bit like a modern IPA rather than a lager with an interesting bite to it.

    2. Had a really good dinner upstairs at Verjus. Also stopped by the wine bar a couple of times for a nightcap or a glass of wine pre dinner elsewhere. The wine selection at both is quite limited but they told me they are expanding as quickly as possible and they also said that several wines they had ordered weeks before and were due in time for the opening had yet to be delivered. They have some interesting spirits that are no often seen in Paris.

      Au Passage is always good as is Le Rubis, especially if you want to experience a true old time Paris wine bar. Baron Rouge is always fun especially on oyster Sundays.

      Look forward to trying Albion since Fish has long been a reliable Sunday place.

      1. thanks for the reviews...from your descriptions, Au Passage sounds like the one i'll likely put on my list for the next time i'm in town...and i also appreciate the description of Verjus, which for me personally, is a reason to avoid it: that "US diner revival + Korean elements" is something that's going around NY (and evidentally the globe) like a flu virus...

        3 Replies
        1. re: Simon

          Actually, I would call Verjus Nouvelle French returned home. Meanwhile traditional French has made its comeback in France. In Paris you could probably eat at a different restaurant every night for the rest of your life without duplication. If you did Verjus would likely be in the top 1 or 2 percent.

          1. re: jock

            But the Verjus wine bar menu as described above sounds very different from the restaurant menu described in your review.

            1. re: Simon

              It is. I was primarily speaking of the restaurant which is very good. The wine bar has a lot more competition, much of it within a few hendred meters as PhilD points out.

        2. Had you popped into Crus, you'd have been able to quaff some excellent...and very well priced wines whilst gobbling the famed Bellota Bellota hams. it is owned by an British man, one of the co owners of La Garde Robe and run by a really friendly and knowledgable little team. Look for Grands Crus Paris or Crus on Facebook and you can see the times and dates of their degustations, offers of the week etc.

          1. You should also add O-Chateau to your list of wine bars. It's a hidden gem! They have a large selection at reasonable prices and their very friendly and knowledgeable staff are always able to recommend something you would love. They also hold several wine tastings throughout the week as well as day trips. As for food, there are the cheese and charcuterie boards and other small plates. They also have a set menu that changes every night. (You can have 3 courses or ala carte). I've eaten there three times so far and have loved each meal more than the last. Can't recommend them enough!

            O Chateau
            68 Rue Jj Rousseau, Saint-Claude, Franche-Comté 39200, FR