Bottles posed elegantly on the shelves, a shiny brass bar, black and white walls rising up from the concrete floor, a terrace that gets plenty of sun and eager staff whose attentiveness reveals how new Les Pantins is. Formerly known as the P’tit Classé (a well-known local bistro), the change in ownership happened so fast that during our visit there, the former sign was still hung up. But the new owners, Antonin Vachon, chef Walid Sahed (who trained at the Bristol) and Guillaume Maugain (ex-Verre Volé), guarantee a good time with their €21 lunch menu: wild salmon gravlax with a broccoli, lemon confit and nori purée for the appetizer; Albacore tuna mi-cuit with romaine lettuce, croutons and anchovies for the main course; and a more modest financier with lemon and apricot cream for dessert. (Also tried, tested and approved from the à la carte selection, a crispy ris de veau on a bed of fresh spinach with jus de cuisson, €12). Later in the day, at cocktail hour, they serve homemade terrine, Bellota ham chiffonnade or cecina de León (€7.50 to €9). And at dinner, there’s an even more extensive offering (count on spending around €35 per person): free-range Aveyron veal tartarte with beets and radishes; hake from Loctudy, steamed vegetables, coconut milk and green curry…. And to drink? Cheverny de Villemade, Rhône Elodie Balme, Costières-de-Nîmes Terre des Chardons (from €4.50 to €6 a glass), or even a Gallia beer brewed right there in Pantin (€4). Plus, there’s a beautiful selection of entirely natural wines by the bottle with its inevitable weaknesses (an oxidized Clairette-de-Bellegarde) and its strokes of genius: a Gamay from the Vendôme produced by Emile Hérédia for €26. Set menu options €18-21 (lunch), à la carte €26-38. // Gilles Dupuis
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