Even though I live not far away and have heard my friends singing its praises for many years, I had never been to Chez Casimir, located near the Gare du Nord, until recently. Its former owner, chef Thierry Breton, who once had a little empire on this street with Chez Michel (highly recommended under its new owner) and La Pointe du Groin, and still makes superb bread for restaurants all over Paris, has sold Casimir to Yannick Aubrée, who hired not one but two chefs (Fabio Piras de Varese and María Canovi). Aubrée wisely left the charming bistro just as it was, with banquettes, a zinc bar, red-checked tablecloths and a blackboard menu.
The walk-in wine closet, which stands in for a wine list, is a special touch. Customers are invited to choose their tipple from the bottles classified by region and clearly marked with a wide range of prices.
The dishes here, delivered by enthusiastic servers, are French bistro favorites but are a big cut above the ordinary fare found in most of them these days.
We feasted on a not-exactly-light but highly satisfying stream of dishes, beginning with a meaty pâté en croute containing guinea fowl and pork but also pistachios and, unusually, a little veg (green asparagus). The fine crust wasn’t the least bit soggy.
Asparagus, white this time, appeared in a lovely creamy soup with a slow-cooked egg hidden in it, topped with roasted peanuts for a nice, nutty counterpoint.
The house-made sausage with tarragon, served with grain mustard and mashed potatoes, was a big hit and was quickly devoured.
The caille en crapaudine (spatchcocked quail) was a tasty bird, perfectly cooked and served with puréed cauliflower in endives braised in orange, all swimming in a flavorful meat jus.
The meat-free main course, al dente tagliolini, came in a broccoli and Sicilian anchovy sauce, with fried bread crumbled on top for a contrasting crunch.
The desserts are also topnotch, with unanimous raves from our group for the lemon meringue tart; the Paris-Brest, wheel-shaped (in honor of the Paris-Brest bicycle race) chou pastry filled with a wicked praline cream; and to-die-for rice pudding with caramelized hazelnuts and salted-butter caramel, loved even by those at the table who claimed beforehand that they didn’t care for rice pudding.
Like its neighbor Chez Michel, this is another one of those perfect bistros. And it’s open 7/7, so if you were so inclined, you could go there every day. Not a bad idea.
See our Favorite Restaurants by Arrondissement page to find a good restaurant in the neighborhood where you want to eat.Favorite