A slate wall, a beautiful terrace, a table d’hôte at the back of the room, a long bar for short lunch breaks – this place has character! At L’Essentiel, a lovely contemporary bistro and the second location for Le Villaret (in the 11th), everything is homemade. From the snacks (headcheese) to the hearty dishes (parmentier) and the more creative ones: fresh sardine tempura with sauce gribiche; wild roasted duck with a cauliflower and fig mousseline; pot-au-feu with delicious beef cheeks (served fresco in the summer); skate wing with capers and spinach; gariguette strawberries in season, softened by a delicious mascarpone cream…. And to help it all go down, a vast selection of fine vintages: a glass of Côtes-du-Ventoux from Les Trois Pères for €5.50 a glass or €11 for a 25 cl pitcher, Côtes-du-Roussillon blanc Les Sorbiers from the Domaine des Chênes for €28 a bottle, etc. Set menu option €14.50 to €17.50 (lunch except Sunday), à la carte €20-40. // Y.S.