The name of the restaurant Bien Élevé plays on different meanings of the term, which can be both “well-behaved” and “well-raised,” with the latter referring to the quality of the products on the meat-heavy menu. As stated on its website, the restaurant’s philosophy is to “pay special attention to the choice of our producers,” who are selected after “months and months of research” and multiple tastings and trips to their farms in the regions of French. ”Nothing has been left to chance,” they say, “in our search for producers who have developed exceptional know-how in the area of sustainable agriculture.”
It’s a noble approach, and the results of all that research were evident on the plate when I ate in the pretty, spacious restaurant with its exposed stone wall, Scandinavian-style furnishings and designer light fixtures.
I got some of that meat right away in my starter of artichokes with pepper sauce and small slices of smoked Angus sirloin steak. The artichoke was slightly overcooked, but the beef was succulent and delicious, and the pepper sauce, with the felicitous addition of black sesame seeds, very tasty.
The other starter, of roasted white asparagus from the Loire Valley (sourcing!) with a sauce made of buttermilk and lemon (from Menton), topped with toasted buckwheat, was rather less interesting.
My friend, whom I have been teasing for years about her tendency to always order fish in restaurants, surprised me by ordering meat, and not just any meat, but a big, thick chunk of rump steak. This was a statement dish: you ask for beef, you get beef, with absolutely no attempt made to pretty up the plate.
I ordered the same thing, with fries (very good without being the best ever) and chimichurri sauce, which was not quite hot enough for my taste. My friend had a dish of seasonal vegetables and a fine pepper sauce with her steak. The meat was fantastic – tender and flavorful. We both cleaned our plates.
The original desserts rounded off the meal perfectly with seasonal ingredients (note: this review was written a few weeks ago, when these ingredients were indeed in season). One was rhubarb with an almond cookie, thyme and lemon cream and verbena and juniper-berry sorbet.
The other unusual (and unusually good) dessert consisted of strawberries in a spicy broth, with a sablé breton (shortbread cookie), mint–ginger ice cream and mentholated pesto.
We drank an excellent red wine from the Cévennes by the glass, which had enough body and tannin to stand up to the beef without flinching.
Bien Élevé has a sister restaurant called Bien Ficelé, also in the ninth arrondissement, which has less of an emphasis on meat but the same concern for sustainability and the sourcing of excellent products.
The young, handsome male servers, by the way, were not only very well-behaved, in one sense of the meaning of the restaurant’s name, but also very sweet. And the food was indeed well-raised. I would be happy to go back anytime, especially for that stunning hunk of beef (the one on the plate).Favorite