52, rue Lamartine, in the 9th Arrondissement.
01 48 78 15 18. Tues–Sat, noon–2:30 p.m.;
7:15 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.
The 9th Arrondissement is becoming quite the food mecca, with dozens of new Paris restaurants continuing to open each year. Les Affranchis, L’Office and Le Pantruche are all newbies, just to name a few. All have opened to much acclaim, and now it’s time to add Les Saisons to the growing number of new bistros in the area.
Tucked away on a small street off rue de Maubeuge, Les Saisons begins on the first floor with a half-dozen simple wood tables on one wall, a tiny bar opposite and the kitchen in the back. Upstairs offers a more spacious room, and a warmer place to sit in winter, away from the draft of the front door.
The chef, Jonathan Lutz, previously cooked at the pretentious Marais wine bar and restaurant Glou. Luckily none of that pomp found its way to Les Saisons; Lutz brought only his cooking talent, and it now has a place to shine.
We were greeted warmly by our server, but then she handed us our menus, which I regarded with a small look of horror. The menu was thickly laminated and was written in English and French. If I had seen pictures of menu items listed, I would have left, but there were none, so I stayed. I told myself that Paris is now catering to a very international clientele—evidently one that is prone to spill on menus.
The blackboard offered a few seasonal specialties like oysters, which my friend enjoyed with the freshly cut bread and creamy butter. I ordered the artichokes barigoule and received a generous helping of halved chokes, grilled mushrooms, tender cuts of shaved ham and sharp Parmesan under a light vinaigrette.
My friend’s main dish arrived while I was still on my starter, which again shocked me. When is French service ever this fast, and also quite this impolite? Once I finished my appetizer, I did enjoy my plate of thinly cut pork loin in a zesty Espelette pepper sauce. It came with new potatoes and a small salad, and was quite satisfying despite the fast pace. My friend had the boudoin noir, which was grilled to a dark crisp and served atop creamy mashed potates with sautéed apples on the side. I enjoyed the combination of savory and sweet with the addition of the fruit.
We continued with the apples into dessert, which was a classic tarte aux pommes in a salted caramel sauce—a sugar bomb of sweetness to end the meal.
In a nutshell: You may experience a few glitches at Les Saisons, but if you can look past them, you’ll find a cozy neighborhood bistro serving thoughtfully prepared dishes at wallet-friendly prices.
Price check: Starters, 6–13 euros; mains, 17–28 euros; dessert/cheese, 6–13 euros. Lunch menu: 15 euros.
If you like the sound of Les Saisons, you might also enjoy La Cantine du Troquet Dupleix. Read the review.
La Cantine du Troquet Dupleix
53, blvd de Grenelle, in the 15th.
01 45 75 98 00. No reservations.
Open daily, 7 a.m.–11:30 p.m.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking tour, check out our DIY downloadable Paris tours.