I have a long history with Aux Crus de Bourgogne, having won the heart of the waiter the first time I went there by helping him fold napkins at the end of the evening.
That was many years ago, and this institution has since been sold a couple of times, but the waiter is still there and still takes good care of me.
Happily, the new owners have not touched the wonderful historic brasserie decor dating from the 1930s, all dark wood, banquettes, mirrors and brass rails.
The menu still sports such classic old-timey dishes as egg mayonnaise, escargots and foie gras. I had the latter as a starter and found it excellent, especially paired as it was with a fruit paste and a delicious toasted pain d’épice (spice bread).
My lunch partners did not fare so well. One had the frisée aux lardons with a poached egg (a dish I haven’t seen on a menu for years). The lardons were top quality, but the frisée ( curly endive), as always, was hard to eat. Overall, it wasn’t a very exciting dish.
The melon with ham, another out-of-fashion dish, was fine. Nothing more to add.
I lucked out with my main course as well: quenelles, those delicate fish dumplings that are a specialty of Lyon. I have always been fond of them and found them to be especially good at Crus de Bourgogne, with two plump dumplings in plenty of rich, tomatoey sauce.
Once again, my friends were less spoiled. One ordered the calf’s liver with morels, specifying that he wanted it cooked “blue,” in other words, barely cooked. The flattened piece of liver arrived sans morels and far from blue. He had to ask for the morels, and it turned out that there weren’t any (why not inform him when he ordered?). A side of girolles was offered to my disgruntled friend in their place.
The other friend, who had ordered two starters, was disgruntled, too, with her green bean and raw mushroom salad. The beans just weren’t green and fresh enough.
The desserts ran along the same lines: once-ubiquitous favorites, they are rarely seen in Paris restaurants today.
The profiteroles were tasty, with nicely crunchy pastry and good vanilla ice cream, but the chocolate sauce was not hot and not chocolatey enough.
Nor was the chocolate quotient high enough in the not-very-creamy mousse. The île flottante (floating island) was pronounced “just okay.”
It’s wonderful that Aux Crus de Bourgogne has been saved and is still serving classic bistro dishes at reasonable prices, but it’s a shame that the dishes are not more consistently good. If you go, have what I had: the foie gras and quenelles.