Bistros, the longtime staple of French dining, started to fade in the early 2000s in Paris. Many bistros closed or updated their menus to attract trendier, upscale diners, leaving the classic dishes and quaint atmosphere behind. Suddenly, later in the decade the trend started to shift and young chefs opened neo-bistros, small chef-driven restaurants with contemporary settings, updating and improving standard bistro dishes for a more selective palate.
Les Vins de Pyrennnes has a more storied history than other bistros. In 1905 a Catalan engineer, who made his fortune by inventing a device that prevented wine from oxidizing, opened a wine bar specializing in wine from the Pyrennes in the Marais district. At one time, artist Paul Cezanne had his painting studio a few doors down and a more notorious resident, Jim Morrison, frequented Les Vins de Pyrennes in the early 1970s as his local wine bar. In the mid-1990s, the bar was turned into a bistro.
Fast forward to November 2017, when Florian Cadiou bought Les Vins des Pyernnes, revamping the bistro while retaining much of the original detailing, such as the rich colored mosaic floors and old mirrors.
Cadiou was wise to hire chef Jimmy Reffet, who formerly cooked at Saturne and Terroirs du Auvergne and turns out a casual bistro menu with flair. The star of the menu is a new take on an old favorite dish, Croque Monsieur, but instead of standard Emmenthal cheese he uses truffled Gouda, a winning substitute. Lamb croquettes as a starter have also become a hit and classics such as steak tartare, house made foie gras, fresh oysters and Black Angus filet with Bearnaise sauce round out the menu.
It goes without saying that there’s an extensive wine list with a special grouping from the Pyrennes. We enjoyed hearty a glass of Petit Gaston 2012 by Alain Brumont, made with tannant grapes, recommended by Cadiou. Other highlights on the wine list include Pouilly-Fumé «Petit Fumé» Domaine Michel Redde 2016 from the Loire, Hautes-Côtes de Beaune «Clos Perrière» from Burgundy, and Côtes-de-provence « La vie en rose » from Provence.
Wander up the creaky, winding wooden staircase up to the second floor and discover a speakeasy. After 6 p.m., mixologist Adele Fardeau, who worked at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, rocks the bar with her creative cocktails in a relaxed retro-mid-century setting with lounges, couches and low lighting.
Vins des Pyrennes
25 Rue Beautreillis, 75004
Open 7 days 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
http://www.vinsdespyrenees.com/ Tel: +33( 0)1 42 72 64 94