Le Verre Volé
67, rue de Lancry, in the 10th Arrondissement.
01 48 03 17 34. Daily, lunch and dinner.
Le Verre Volé is a shoebox-size wine bar along the banks of the Canal St.-Martin. Its name means “the stolen glass.” I don’t know about the missing stemware, but I can attest to having lost many other things at this joint, including cash, moderation and my natural wine virginity.
Colorful tables are crammed into a space that’s likely smaller than your living room. The walls are lined with shelves and shelves of wine. You’ll sit so close to your neighbor (a young sommelier, a local actor, a tango instructor) that conversation will be unavoidable.
There are two kinds of evenings at Le Verre Volé. The first is composed of dinner, wine and intimate conversation. The dishes are selected from a chalkboard menu that changes with the seasons. Using nothing more than a couple of toaster ovens, the “cooks” here turn out starters like brandade de morue (salt cod and potato purée) with purple artichokes, or a salad of ripe heirloom tomatoes from Annie Bertin. Main dishes are hearty, often involving a sausage of some sort (the Caillette Ardéchois is my favorite) on a bed of mashed potatoes. Wine is selected from the surrounding shelves, usually with the help of an amiable waiter. Bottles go for significantly less than what you’d pay at most restaurants, but with a 7 euro corkage fee. Because this place is informal, it’s possible to share many plates and a bottle and escape for less than 25 euros per person.
The second kind of evening chez Stolen Glass ends with chairs on pushed-back tables and some manner of debauchery. I have seen tango dancing at Le Verre Volé. I have seen a visiting American break-dancing on the floor (pictured below). I have stood at the counter, long after the exterior gate has been pulled down, and finished off bottles of Who Can Remember with a Metallica-loving sommelier. This wine bar is a magic spring of random Paris adventure.
Regardless of what kind of evening you’re up for, be sure to book a table in advance. Le Verre Volé may be casual, but its tiny size and immense popularity make reservations a must.
Price check: Starters run from 6 to 10 euros, and main dishes cost around 11–14 euros. You’ll find bottles of wine at every price point (10–300 euros), with a corkage fee of 7 euros.
In a nutshell: This casual wine bar near the Canal St.-Martin is great for both relaxed and (later) rowdy evenings. There’s an impressive selection of natural (and conventional) wine, plus small nibbles and more substantial mains. Le Verre Volé is open every day and usually full—be sure to book.
If you like the sound of Le Verre Volé but prefer more elaborate cooking:
30, rue Gay-Lussac, in the 5th. 01 43 25 20 79.
Open for lunch Tues–Sat. Closed Sun–Mon.