Friday, October 14, 2011

Why you shouldn't be scared of Le Baratin

We'd heard so many bad things about Le Baratin we almost didn't get there. It was only reading an interview with Bertrand Grebaut of Septime, one of Paris's most highly rated new restaurants, in a funky food magazine called Fricote saying that is was his favourite restaurant in Paris that made us think twice. That and the fact that Le Baratin is still the main place of pilgrimage in Paris for natural wine lovers.

We'd heard bad reports though from friends who had found the owner insupportably rude so we arrived with some trepidation. We were sat next to a group of very noisy Americans of the sort that might just account for his attitude.

Fortunately my husband speaks French like a native so we were fine. When we asked to move to a quieter table there wasn't a problem. He actually got a smile out of the gaffer. And the rest of the staff couldn't have been more charming or helpful.

And the food and wine are terrific - well worth the trek up to the 20th. I had a simple crab and green bean salad and my husband a ragout of artichoke hearts and carrots which miraculously survived the bottle of Yoyo KM31, a glorious rich, heady grenache/carignan blend from the Roussillon we had ordered from the tempting list on the board. It was better though, admittedly, with our two main courses a braised veal cheek (below) and the most amazing joue de boeuf (beef cheek) I've ever eaten which managed to be fall-apart tender and crisp on the outside. I find it rare these days to find main courses better than starters but these were both brilliant.

We finished by sharing a perfectly matured Brie - ripe right the way through but not bitter as Brie can become if it's allowed to go too far.

A really super meal - not cheap* but totally delicious. French chefs love it. Brave the boss and go.

Le Baratin is at 3, rue Jouye-Rouve in the Belleville area in the north of the city. (20th arrondissement). Nearest metro: Pyrenées Tél: 01 43 49 39 70. It's closed Sunday and Monday

* They do a lunchtime menu for 16€ from Tuesday to Friday.

If you're in that part of town and can't get in to Le Baratin try Le Chapeau Melon the other side of the road (evenings only)

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