52 Faubourg Saint-Denis
Rough stone walls, exposed ventilation shafts…. Without making any claims of revolutionizing the café-bistro-brasserie experience, Charles Compagnon (who also owns Richer and L’Office in Paris) has figured out what his local “hirondelle du faubourg” (Saint-Denis) clientele like, who happily consume anything he puts in front of them. At number 52, it’s packed from noon to midnight: croissants from the Julhès bakery served all day long with a Burundi coffee, La Marise beer (€4.50) at cocktail hour, burrata and peppers or a pork belly cake for a late afternoon snack… And at dinner time, the menu of the day (printed on plain pieces of white paper) attracts a loyal crowd of aficionados. The day we went at lunch: shellfish salad (mussels-clams-razor clams) livened up by grapefruit and sweetened by Greek yogurt; respectable pork cheek cannelloni with barely-cooked vegetables (mushrooms, parsnips, Brussel sprouts, sprouts); and coconut ice cream with a caramel-kaffir lime center, and a chocolate crisp worthy of a talented pastry chef. There’s an ample selection of wines: Beaujolais from Burgaud, Riesling from Trapet, Mondeuse from Petitprez (€28-36) and a beautiful collection of Stählemühle eau de vie (€12 for 20 ml). Appetizers €8-12, dishes €17-19, desserts €8, à la carte €34-40. // G.D.