It is always difficult to find dining spots that are frequented because of their good reputation, rather than just their close proximity to popular attractions. And, not just a place, but a good place. And a good place to me means, an enjoyable atmosphere and great food at a reasonable price, which equals a good value.
In Paris, the area around the Eiffel Tower has no shortage of bistros, restaurants and cafes. But there is one tiny family owned jewel in the 7th arrondissement, called Le Petit Troquet, that deserves a visit next time you’re in the vicinity of the tower. It’s so close to the tower in fact that you can see the twinkle of its lights if you are outside in the evening.
But believe me, the real shining star is inside.
Now, its been a while since I’ve visited Le Petit Troquet, so my memory may not serve me well down to the very last detail, but I’ve been able to recollect the most important parts, including the fact that I enjoyed my meal and that we would certainly return for another visit.
With perhaps no more than a dozen tiny tables crowded into this postage-stamp sized bistrot, it is a challenge to find an open seat, which is why you need to reserve in advance. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate and the decor is old vintage charm. Antique French advertisements, and illustrations line the walls, and there is a giant antique coffee machine set behind the authentic zinc bar.
The night we dined, there was a healthy mix of tourists and locals alike. The menu was small, but consisted of quintessential French bistro fare with generous portions. And the ingredients were fresh.
We enjoyed a very reasonably priced bottle of Pinot Noir that was very tasty and we both chose the three-course prix-fixe menu. We enjoyed what I remember to be a creamy vichyssoise-style soup with mussels, which was velvety and delicious.
My entrée was a rich, hearty beef daube, a classic French beef stew, which was served in a mini Staub crock.
And Chris’s main course was a lovely piece of baked white fish with a side of sautéed vegetables, served alongside a pistou/tapanade.
Our desserts – light and fluffy pistachio meringues and a warm claufoutis (also served in a cute staub crock), were both wonderful and hit the spot.
Le Petit Troquet isn’t five-star Michelin dining with a celeb chef who uses inventive ingredients and creates complicated flavor profiles – so if you are looking for that experience, I’d advise you to steer clear. It doesn’t pretend to be anything but a friendly family run bistro, offering simple French comfort food in a warm and welcoming environment. And to me, that just adds to its charm. Oh, and did I mention it’s non-smoking?
As with many places in Paris, the best value lies within the prix-fixe menus. Lunch is 20€ and dinner is 33€. Should you choose dinner at Le Petit Troquet, an after dinner stroll around the small cobbled streets between the bistro and the tower would be a perfect way to end your evening.