The only solution is to hop a plane to Paris, and get a reservation at Benoît.
Most of us savvy Angelenos who travel to Paris regularly already know the city is full of bistros. But just what are the right bistros?
God knows that the City of Lights is jammed with these yummy slices of Parisian life; it’s just a matter of finding the best place to enjoy a wonderful summer’s glass of wine and a fine Tronçon de Barbue. Travelers have two chances to source in the bistro realm prior to arrival: Frommers (risky) or a fine French friend to steer you into the right arrondissement. If you don’t have either, you’ve come to the right place, because as a Francophile and regular purveyor of all things Paris, I’ve found the bistro for you to spend a luxurious, and eventually completely satisfied — afternoon…the wonderful bistro, Benoît.
A little histoire, first though: Benoît has been around since 1912 – started by the Petit family, and is a stone’s throw from the Hotel de Ville in the 4th arrondissement. In 2005, famed chef Alain Ducasse bought Benoît. The menu may have shifted, but not much has changed in the atmosphere realm – much of the original décor – including tiles and mirrors. It is an open, welcoming restaurant – but if you need a little privacy, upstairs there is a private dining room available upon request.
Of course, atmosphere is only part of the equation – the real draw here, is that you will probably experience one of the best meals ever — if you can get a reservation. Our lunch consisted of many a Francophile fave: Escargot, white wine and champagne, pate. (Leave it to me to go with the one Parisian in town who doesn‘t drink wine). Two items though, stood out above the rest: First, the Barbue — a wonderful, flaky white fish – served with fresh French veggies. While the French do take their time at lunch, the last thing they want is to be in a food coma; the Barbue undoubtedly will leave you satiated, without overly stuffed. My second fave: The dessert. Wild berries, accompanied by the most lovely little dollop of cheese ice cream. I’ve never had cheese ice cream and probably never will again. Until I get back to Benoît.
P.S. If Benoît is booked, try one of Ducasse’s other bistros, Aux Lyonnais.
Rue Saint Martin 20, Paris
01 42 72 25 76