3, rue Victor Massé, in the 9th Arrondissement.
01 48 78 55 60. Mon–Fri, lunch and dinner.
I was experiencing a bit of restaurant fatigue last week after one dinner that left my belly bellicose (and bank account bruised) and another that took pizza to new lows. These meals, plus a lingering holiday heaviness, gave me a strong desire to withdraw to the security of my own kitchen, where I know I can eat well.
But Le Pantruche seemed promising.
Franck Baranger, the young chef, has worked for Christian Constant, among others. He and two friends (all thirtyish) decided to do their own thing, and I would like to thank them: their little bistro ably snapped my losing streak.
The cooking embodies neo-bistro principles (technical rigor, quality ingredients), and the service is warm but professional. The prices are more than fair, with a two-course lunch menu for 19 euros and three courses at dinner for 32 euros.
My starter, a cool and briny oyster tartare surrounded by a delicate sauce of lettuce and herbs, would be worthy of a far more elegant setting than this minimally decorated room near Pigalle. Mushroom risotto was creamy and intense. A celery root velouté was richly flavored but not at all heavy, traditional but not weighed down by the past, a description that might fit most of Baranger’s food.
One friend ordered braised beef cheeks, almost falling apart, glazed with their own reduction and studded with carrots. “Like my mom’s pot roast,” she said, satisfied. Lamb shoulder got a bit of heat from piment d’Espelette, and my pork chop was wonderfully juicy, in a pan sauce flecked with whole grain mustard and accompanied by little golden grenaille potatoes that my friends kept trying to poach from my plate. I couldn’t blame them.
The only disappointment was the chocolate mousse, which was broken and studded with grainy bits of seized chocolate. The Grand Marnier soufflé with salted butter caramel was perfect, at least lookswise, but quickly disappeared to nothingness as soon as the sauce was added. Soufflés are always like this, I know, but this was a particularly ephemeral specimen.
The rest of the meal, though, offered enduring pleasure, and I’ll certainly be back.
In a nutshell: Le Pantruche offers classic bistro cooking with a jolt of youthful energy, without any sticker shock.
Price check: Lunch menu, 19 euros. Dinner, 32 euros, with small supplements on certain items (foie gras, scallops). Succinct and well-priced wine list with bottles from small producers.
If Le Pantruche sounds good, you’ll also like Philou, another contemporary bistro, just off the canal St.-Martin. Read a full review here.
12, ave Richerand, in the 10th.
Tues–Sat, lunch and dinner. 01 42 38 00 13.