Monday, April 11

April in Paris

Had a blast in Paris this weekend at a restaurant called Le Cave de l'Os à Moëlle.

L'Os à Moëlle -- literally translated as "the marrow bone," although they don't serve the bone marrow and parsley salad made famous at London's spectacular St John -- is a tiny little bistro about a 20 minute cab ride from where we were staying near the Jardin Luxembourg.

Le Cave de l'Os à Moëlle, even smaller, is a glorified (as in glorious) wine bar with only 2 long communal tables that's situated across the street.

When we walked in at 9:30 on a Saturday night, the place was bumping, packed wall to wall with a young crowd that was drinking wine, chatting and laughing, as a bartender carved thin slices off a giant leg of cured ham and handed them to good looking girls.

Our party of 7 squeezed into a tiny table that was loaded with bread, cabbage, pickles, and enormously heavy crocks of terrine and pate. We grabbed a new bottle from a wall full of wine bottles (we had consumed one already out on the sidewalk while waiting for our table; prices are the same you'd find at a wine shop) and dug in.

When we got hungry for something more we made our way to the end of the room, where there was brocolli soup, artichokes, hard boiled eggs, and haddock with leeks. Everything was served buffet style, and the bartender (no waiters!) would occasionally bring out another steaming hot dish from across the street.

For dessert, there was a side table laden with apple crumble, rice pudding, key lime mousse, gingerbread and pears stewed in syrup with star anise.

The whole meal was unbelievably convivial and fun. The food was fantastic -- maybe just a smidgen below our previous visit, when the main dish was a thick beef stew, but that was almost beside the point. We were crammed into a tiny table, drinking endless bottles of wine, laughing and eating with friends. The perfect meal.

The price? 28 euros per person.

Next time I'd like to try out the slightly more grown up L'Os a Moelle across the street, where they have a 38 euro prix fixe meal with actual waiters and everything. Both restaurants were created by Thierry Faucher, one of a crop of chefs who fled the stuffy environs of Paris' three star dining emporiums in the late '90s to found funky bistros in unglamorous parts of town -- a tale told by my favorite food writer, Vogue critic Jeffrey Steingarten, which is how I heard of La Cave in the first place.

L'Os a Moelle got a very glowing write-up from the NYTimes' Mark Bittman a few weeks ago.

Another review of L'Os a Moelle, with a bit more background on Faucher and his colleagues in the Bistro Moderne movement, is here.

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