On the hunt for the perfect Parisian bistro my search took me to L’Entredgeu located in the outskirts of the 17th arrondissement which is almost as far away as you can get from the 14th where I am staying. Tucked away in a back street behind the metro the area feels decidedly dodgy however L’Entredgeu itself could not appear more welcoming. Large glass windows face onto the street emblazoned with gold lettering and once inside the atmosphere is cozy with tiled black and white floors, cherry red leather banquettes and bistro style tables and chairs adorned with tablecloths that bear a striking resemblance to tea towels. The walls are covered with black and white photos of bull fights which I guess must be a reference to the Basque influences in the food.
Travers de cochon confit
Recommended by both Chez Pim
and David Lebovitz
, L’Entredgeu is run by a husband and wife team. The name Le Entredgeu is a play on words as Phillipe Tredgeu is the chef while his wife Catherine runs the front of house and so you entre Tredgeu. Oh the French – they are tres amuse! Despite the bistro’s location in the wild west of Paris it is firmly on the foodie radar because of the pedigree of the owners (Philippe cheffed at Chez Casimir
and Chez Michel
while Catherine previously worked for Robuchon and Ducasse) and the quality of the food on offer.
Arriving at 8pm I was one of the first people in the restaurant but the waiter led me to a room slightly adjacent to the main room where I was seated close to a family of Americans. Over the course of the evening it became clear that any English speaking customers were seated in this room. Although I had made my reservation in French I am sure it was immediately clear to L’Entredgeu that I am not French. Probably the fact that I had called and quite possibly said something along the lines of “I am a table for one. Tomorrow. I am 8 hours. Many thanks” was the give away. Whatever the case some sort of segregation was going on and while it may have been to allow the waiters with the best English to cover those tables with English speakers I did feel a little left out once I worked out what was going on especially given that I was doggedly continuing to try and speak and order in French.
Once I was seated a waitress brought around a blackboard listing the menu choices for the prix fixe €32 three course menu with a choice of seven or so options for entree, main and dessert. The menu changes daily according to what is available although there are a few specialties of the chef that make regular appearances. It was written entirely in French and in handwriting which resembled that of the average doctor (ie intelligible) which did not assist matters. I managed to decipher most of it but there was still the element of surprise with each dish I ordered as to what it would actually comprise. I actually quite enjoy that part of dining overseas as you end up trying things that you may not have ordered if you knew what they were.
The wine list was easier to navigate as it was fairly concise and actually typed. I settled on a half bottle of the vin de table (€20) which appeared to be quite a bit more than a half bottle so left me feeling slightly sloshed by the end of the meal. However back to the beginning, the waiters recommended the coeur de boeuf as a starter which turned out to be a Caprese salad with a slight twist. Overlapping discs of tomato and milky buffalo mozzarella were served on top of a savoury pastry base and drizzled with a tangy pesto. The ingredients were of top quality but I do feel that in general Caprese salad is always a bit of a let down when not in Italy.
Any disappointment was short lived though as my next dish knocked my socks off. The travers de cochon confit was everything I was looking for and more. A black cocotte was brought to the table laden with three pork ribs and a medley of vegetables. The pork was moist with a crispy skin covered in a sticky almost caramelised sauce and it fell off the ribs. The inclusion of vegetables such as shitake mushrooms, snow peas and fava beans along with roasted potatoes added a lighter touch to the dish and offered a hint of Asian influence.
Half a bottle of wine and a good part of a pig later I decided to finish myself off completely by ordering the chocolate mousse for dessert. Two quenelles
of mousse arrived nestling on a platform of honeycomb and decorated with a thick shard of white chocolate. The mousse was so light and fluffy that there was a danger that it would float off the table and my rapturous expressions while eating it prompted the couple next to me to change their dessert order to two mousse.
L’Entredgeu is worth the trek for the genuine bistro atmosphere and the brilliant seasonal menu that changes daily instead of offering up the same tired fare day after day. My only hesitation is the segregation of English speakers however I am happy to give L’Entredgeu the benefit of the doubt and presume that this was for practical reasons. For an honest to goodness Parisian bistro experience L’Entredgeu is the place to go.
Details: 83 rue Laugier, Paris, France (Ph 01 40 54 97 24) Metro: Porte de Champerret.
Beware this is another of the many restaurants in Paris that shuts down in August – I got in just before it closed for the summer holiday.
Gourmet Traveller Tips
I stayed at hip hotel Mama Shelter
, a Phillipe Starck designed wonder out in the 20th. Housed in a converted garage each room has a slick imac which you can watch DVDs on, TV or use the internet, there are Kiehls toiletries in the bathroom and basically it is designer heaven. Rooms from €89.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in this post on hip new restaurant Mama Shelter’s
take on bistro fare in Paris or what about a great Parisian style bistro in London, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe