Je Thé…me

May 5, 2009By Richard HesseArchive

Teapots galore adorn this lovingly run bistro.

Pros: Excellent food and wine, the pride of the owners, plenty of space in pleasant surroundings

Cons: None worth mentioning

Je Thé…me was once, circa 1900, a tea shop and deli, apparently, and they still have the teapots to show for it, along with the reference to tea in the punning name. The large teapot collection is joined by lots of other olde tea shoppe knick-knacks, gewgaws and bric-a-brac, and, most glorious of all, the original wooden shelving from the shop, plus snowy white tablecloths and, for so small a venue, plenty of room for diners. It’s a mystery to me how they do it. Perhaps it’s because the obvious generosity of owner Jacky Larsonneur (“chef-propriétaire”) and his sommelier son, Damien, stretches to not shoehorning tables in to the max.

Most of the diners seemed local (my date lives 50 yards away), and things got lively, without ever getting noisy, as the evening wore on.

We began with a sweet Jurançon, which also helped down my date’s duck foie gras. My marinated anchovies on lentils called for something drier, and we went along with the recommendation of the sommelier son and ordered a bottle of 2007 white Saumur Champigny, L’Insolite, beautifully made by Thierry Germain of the Domaine des Roches Neuves, who has a fun Web site.

The restaurant operation works smoothly, which means there’s time for the owner and his son to talk to diners and radiate their own special enthusiasm for the food and wine, which significantly adds to dining pleasure. The Larsonneurs are interested in the new generation of “natural” winemakers, but don’t go along with the fundamentalist excesses found in the extreme reaches of the movement. My guess is that there isn’t a duff bin in the cellar.

I was thinking yesterday that there is a commercial opening in Paris for an enterprising wine merchant to supply local cafés run by a younger generation of quality-minded people, of which there are more and more. This train of thought was prompted as I drank a glass of pedestrian Bourgogne Aligoté as an aperitif in my local, Le Sully. Nizam, the patron, no doubt gets his wines from the same wholesaler he buys his beer from, which means high-volume, high-margin wines for the wholesaler and a less than satisfactory tipple for the client. A savvy operator could make a living selling well-sourced, similarly priced wines of a much higher caliber, non?

But I digress. Cut rapidly to the roast cod with bacon and its risotto in the lady’s corner, and a double act of veal kidney and sweetbreads served with spring vegetables in mine, both stunningly well-cooked and presented prettily but without artifice. Follow that up with a triple serving of superb cheeses served at the perfect temperature and a house tiramisu, and you have a perfect meal in surroundings as comfortable as you could wish for.

The Larsonneurs are the hitherto largely unsung heroes of the 15th arrondissement, discreetly doing a fabulous job, while others (and you have read about plenty of them in these pages) get all the credit. But that’s by the by. They’re not suffering from it, and neither are we – au contraire.

Richard Hesse

Je Thé…me: 4, rue d’Alleray, 75015 Paris. Tel: 01 48 42 48 30. Métro: Vaugirard. Nearest Vélib stations: 18, place Adolphe Chérioux; 3 rue Paul Barruel. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. Fixed-price lunch menu: €25 (two courses), €36*.

* three courses, not including wine

© 2009 Paris Update

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