Le Repaire de Cartouche
8, blvd des Filles du Calvaire, in the 11th Arrondissement.
01 47 00 25 86. Lunch and dinner, Tues–Sat.
This address was the hideout of Louis Dominique Cartouche, an 18th-century thief whose misdeeds—and ability to evade the police—captured the public’s imagination and sympathy.
The low ceiling and wood beams of the two-level restaurant that now occupies the space conjure an old tavern or auberge, almost always full of loyal locals and a table or two of hungry visitors.
Before I go further, I’ll tell you that last year I heard a few horror stories about the service here, at least one from a trusted friend and others on the boards of Chowhound. While I would not go out of my way to praise the service, I have never, in my four visits, had an experience that would prevent me from going back. The minor problems I’ve encountered—having to ask repeatedly for water, waiting a while to order, a brusque waiter—are not what I consider exceptional in the context of Paris dining.
Plus? The food is delicious.
Chef Rudolph Paquin’s menu is not light. Really: if you are looking for vegetables, look elsewhere. Even the endive salad is served with ham (on the bone, no less), and the bread arrives with a generous crock of rillettes.
The other night I started with the terrine of sanglier (wild boar) with chestnuts, two generous slices of late autumn on the plate. It was fantastic, but I only ordered it for the sake of diversity; two others at the table had already ordered my first choice, a savory “nougat” of chicken and foie gras that was silky, airy and rich at the same time, a reminder of what chicken actually tastes like. And it came with a much-appreciated tangle of small greens. The brave one among us ordered the couenne rissolé: browned pork rind. The pâté en croute of wild hare was another contender for table favorite.
Lièvre—wild hare—was all over the menu, in fact, which is something I like about the way Paquin cooks. When something is in season, he exploits it every way he knows how. Among the first courses was a “cappuccino” of hare with foie gras and mushrooms, as well as the pâté en croute; among the mains, a parmentier and lièvre à la royale.
I had the parmentier, enriched with foie gras, the potatoes crisped on top after a turn under the broiler. The côte de cochon was a hit, and a heart attack, well browned and insulated by its own bacon and served with zingy marinated girolles.
For all of this, you’ll need wines that are up to the task, and the deep list delivers. We started with a white from the Jura from Domaine de la Tournelle, and Paquin himself helped us choose a Fleurie from Yvon Métras to carry us through.
Desserts, if you can manage, include a vanilla pot de crème, riz au lait and pain perdu. We ordered a “croustillant” of nougatine with clementines—a stack of almond candy wafers with juicy fruit segments and vanilla cream. Delicious.
And to send us on our way, a plate of sablés that I could only describe as butter bound with a bit of flour and sugar.
In a nutshell: Le Repaire de Cartouche offers robust cooking for those with a robust appetite, in a room that feels more country inn than in style.
Price check: First courses, 9–14 euros. Mains, 25–32 euros. Desserts, 8–9 euros.
If you like the sound of Le Repaire de Cartouche, you’ll also like Chez Michel, another great address for hearty cold-weather cooking.
10, rue de Belzunce, in the 10th.
01 44 53 06 20. Closed Sat and Sun.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking tour, check out our DIY downloadable tours.