A Classic Paris Bistro …


Le Square Trousseau: A Classic Bistro PDF Print E-mail
9 / Sep / 2010 15:27
square trousseau
It isn’t often I have much time to myself these days – so when I woke up to a gorgeous fall morning and a clearsocial calendar, I put the leash on Marie the pup and headed straight for my favorite bistro terrasse, which sits on a corner at the far end of a quiet Parisian square.
Wedged behind the Bastille Opera house and the Viaduct des Artists, the tranquil Square Trousseau is bordered by some of Paris’s most adored food addresses such as the boulangerie/patisserie Blé Sucre, the funky food & flea market Marché d’Aligre, restaurant La Gazzetta, the Baron Rouge wine bar filled with male patrons straight from central casting – and the turn of the century 1907 bistro – Le Square Trousseau.square trousseau Although I’m thrilled Paris is booming right now with young talented chefs running smart modern bistros whipping up creative cuisine – it’s the classic bistro-style combination of ambiance and comfort food cooking that calls to me when I’m ready to unwind.LST is just that place – so quintessential is the décor, locale and polished clientele that numerous movies have been shot here including the recent “Paris, Je t’aime”, but also, authentic food so good and staff do darned nice that I wonder why I don’t make the journey here more often. As soon as we were seated at a table on the sidewalk, adorable servers dressed in black and white offered a dish of spiced olives with a smile as I perused the menu.

 

It took a bit longer than usual since I was distracted by the sun filtering through the trees casting soft autumn shadows across the table tops and an antique coffee machine whirring inbetween Otis Redding singing, “Sitting on the dock of the bay…” on an old radio.
There isn’t a blackboard prix fixe here – everything is a la carte ranging from 10 – 19 euros each. Classics include starters of green bean and foie gras salad…

…garlic-butter escargots and eggs Benedict topped with bacon and salmon.

Entrées of organic-roasted chicken with puréed potatoes, onglet beef topped by thin strips of caramelized shallots (served with fleur de sel house frites) and veal with crème fraîche and cèpes make for tough choices when looking for comfort food…

Looking over the wine list made me smile remembering my first visit here several years ago with my friend Isabelle, a wine writer.  

She insisted I try a wine called “Morgon” made by a certain M. Lapierre after I had channeled my inner Miles from Sideways, “I am NOT drinking Beaujolais!” Although both are Gamay-based varietals, the Morgon is made in the Rhone-style and not only has this wine become my pseudo life partner; M. Lapierre and his son have since become two of my favorite people.

There are some real gems – affordable too – among the wines by the glass and half-bottle – gorgeous small production VDP (vin de pays) and AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) from Sancerre (the Loire), Médoc, Languedoc, Provence and the Rhone.

The crisp green beans and silky foie gras followed by the smoky-peppery-sweet onglet with shallots washed down with a “ficelle” bottle of Morgon fed my soul as much as my eyes. To add icing to the cake so to speak, baskets placed on the table proudly display Fabien’s baguettes from Blé Sucre next door…

 
Ble Sucre

… and for fun, the well-behaved young lady on my right (who was all of six years old) white linen napkin tucked under chin and legs dangling off of the chair well above the ground – thoroughly enjoyed the colored sticks of chalk to draw on the table top brown paper.

As much as I love the terrace for petit-déjeuner for the morning paper, Italian coffee and more of Fabrice’s pain au chocolat and croissants or for a lazy outdoor lunch, the interior is my seat of choice for dinner since LST looks like a an upscale coffee table book you’d ooh and ahh over if you can’t live in Paris.

During the cooler months and frosty winter evenings, it takes on a magical New Orleans or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil feel – haunting in the way the sounds of a bistro (silverware and glasses clinking, laughter) emanate down a dark street, leading you to good times with locals on the other side of the warmly-lit interiors.

The patisserie ceilings, warm yellow walls, buttery leather banquettes, brass coat racks and railings, antique globe chandeliers, mosaic-tiled floors…

… long-limbed palm trees, and framed sepia-toned portraits that hang in front of vintage wall mirrors all recreate an ambiance of the elegant patrons who dined here in another era before cell phones and email.

Although it retains its 1907 character – the new owners (a charming young couple who’ve worked in the Paris hospitality and restaurant business for several years) have managed to do it just right, keeping it modern and fresh, a bit hip even, not at all tired, and have recruited super amenable servers who are actually glad you came. The neighbrohood bistro ideal is even completed by the resident Jack Russell terrier named “Dandy”, who has become quite the mascot in the neighborhood and is featured in animation on their website.

Shame there wasn’t any room for dessert –  since the Saint- Nectailre fermier cheese and strawberry feuilleté are all-time favorites.

If I lived in this neighborhood, I’d be here several times a week – and perhaps be featured on their business card too, like the other locals… as I’m pretty darned certain the ladies who just rolled up with shopping bags galore kissing everyone and grabbing a great outdoor table are the ladies on the very right of this card.

 

But, should you go?

If you can secure a reservation and steer yourselves just a little out of the way…

…you’ll discover a secret corner of Paris that you too can call your own, if only for an evening, or morning, or midnight… since they are open seven days a week serving food non-stop, Le Square Trousseau is almost too good to be true.

Le Square Trousseau, 1 Rue Antoine Vollon, 12th, M° Ledru-Rollin, Tel: 01.43.43.06.00. Open M-Sun: 8am-2pm (lunch/dinner menu from 12pm until 12am non-stop)

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