12, ave Richerand, in the 10th Arrondissement.
Tues–Sat, lunch and dinner. 01 42 38 00 13.
I’ve bemoaned the lack of a good bistro in this neighborhood since moving here last winter. With the opening of Philou, I can stop complaining.
There’s nothing wrong with young and hip, bobo and branché, but Philou is a bistro for grown-ups, run by an experienced chef. Owner Philippe Damas (former patron of the Square Trousseau, pre-Costes) offers a generous, seasonal bistro menu that changes daily and, as is almost required at this point, a list of natural wines to wash it down.
I started with a sauté of fresh cèpes, their meatiness brightened with slender green beans, garlic, herbs and a splash of vinegar. My friend had the foie gras, a silky slice, mi-cuit, served with a tasty but unnecessary little pile of green beans. Lighter lunchers out there would appreciate the green herb salad, carnivores might try the terrine de campagne and I will try the lentils vinaigrette with smoked salmon on my next visit, if it’s still available.
On the main side, there was a steak on offer, comme il faut; veal kidneys with little vegetables; plus two fish dishes: rascasse (rockfish) with eggplant caviar and cod with fennel compote. But on this day we were feeling more like fowl.
Countless bistros serve roast chicken with grenailles, but to encounter one so moist, tender and well seasoned is no small potatoes. The pile of girolles didn’t hurt, soaking up flavor and adding another shade of gold to the plate. This was the real thing, not pyrite. Roast grouse was billed as simply that on the menu, but what arrived was a surprising display of careful technique: the plump and crisp bird, cut open, revealed a layer of stuffing under the skin and a foie gras center that hadn’t melted in the heat.
At this point you might as well order dessert, whether the splendid baba au rhum or seasonal fig tart. If your figure can’t afford it, your wallet can. One, two or three courses at Philou are 15, 20 or 25 euros, respectively. That’s barring any supplements, of course, and there are a few; the grouse and cèpes will cost you extra.
The service is friendly by Paris standards, with a bit of back-and-forth between the waitresses and the chef, whom you’ll see popping out of the kitchen. The space feels classic but modern, with red banquettes and blackboard walls on which the menu is written, a little round bar in the center and a cool Ingo Maurer fixture lighting it all up. The large terrace, shaded by a red awning, is one of the most pleasant around.
In a nutshell: Philou is the kind of bistro every Paris quartier should be so lucky to have.
Price check: One, two or three courses for 15, 20 or 25 euros, plus supplements on some items.
If Philou sounds good, you’ll love the classic Bistrot Paul Bert. Read a review here.
Bistrot Paul Bert
18, rue Paul Bert, in the 11th.
01 43 72 24 01.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking tour, check out our DIY downloadable tours.