8, rue Descartes, in the 5th Arrondissement.
01 43 26 72 49. FriÃ¢ÂÂTues, lunch and dinner.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs not a new restaurant, but for some reason people have been talking about it recently. I read about it on one of my favorite French food blogs, Food Intelligence, and a day later heard about it from a couple who had eaten there not long before. He loved it, praising the simple preparations and pristine ingredients, but she said she would never go back. Why? Ã¢ÂÂThe room is hideous,Ã¢ÂÂ she said. Ã¢ÂÂHideous.Ã¢ÂÂ
After eating there I agree with both assessments, so the question to ask is: do looks matter?
Ã¢ÂÂNot muchÃ¢ÂÂ would be my own answer, particularly with food this good.
I started with a dish of young leeks, julienned and cooked until tender and piled almost like noodles on the plate, kissed with crÃÂ¨me fraÃÂ®che and topped with curly crisp ruffles of thinly sliced bacon. My friend had the boudin noir Ã¢ÂÂnem,Ã¢ÂÂ or spring roll, the dark mass wrapped in rice paper and lightly fried, served with large leaf lettuce.
For mains we chose pork spare ribs, rich and tender, served with a slab of crisp polenta, and sweetbreads Ã¢ÂÂmeuniÃÂ¨re,Ã¢ÂÂ which came with an outrageously buttery pile of potatoes Ã¢ÂÂpompadourÃ¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂa reference not to the preparation but to the particular cultivar that chef Christophe Philippe prefers.
HeÃ¢ÂÂs a stickler for ingredients, actually, and wants you to know it. The menu is filled with marquee monikers: Bordier butter, steaks aged by super-butcher Desnoyer, greens grown by Annie Bertin, LozÃÂ¨re lamb. The name dropping can seem tiresome, but I for one admire a chefÃ¢ÂÂs commitment to good products, so long as he knows what to do with them.
The dessert menu is not friendly to insomniacs: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, coffee ice cream. We went for the mousse. It was perfectly textured, not too sweet, and flecked with crunchy praline. I could have eaten another portion.
Next time, maybe.
In a nutshell: Christophe is a fantastic neighborhood bistro near the heart of the tourist zone.
Price check: First courses, 8Ã¢ÂÂ10 euros; mains, 24Ã¢ÂÂ28 euros; desserts, 8Ã¢ÂÂ12 euros.
If Christophe sounds good but you want a better-looking room, try Jeu de Quilles, run by another chef who is a stickler for good ingredients. Read the review.
Jeu de Quilles
45, rue Boulard, in the 14th. 01 53 90 76 22.
WedÃ¢ÂÂSat, lunch and dinner.