Every Parisian would like to have a restaurant like Le Daron just down the street.
Pros: Good food; reasonable prices; comfortable setting; charming, courteous service
Cons: No complaints
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every Parisian dweller yearns for a good restaurant just around the corner. Apologies to Jane Austen, but it’s true. Only last night I went to the wonderful Au Bascou (order the succulent guinea-fowl if you ever have the good fortune to go there) with friends who continually expressed their gratitude at having such a wonderful restaurant only a few steps from their apartment in the Arts et Métiers area.
A number of years ago, when a place called Fontaine Fiacre opened just down the street from where I live in the ninth arrondissement, I ate there often with pleasure. But warning bells soon sounded: the high prices they were asking for food of good rather than high quality struck me as economic suicide. Sure enough, the business folded a few years later.
It was replaced by Le Daron (meaning “patron,” or “owner,” in old French), and I am pleased to report that the new restaurant has aimed its fare at exactly the right level: it does not pretend to offer haute cuisine, instead providing fresh, high-quality food at affordable prices, cooked with care by chef Nicolas Bouchard. A two-course or three-course lunch costs €15 or €20, and evening meals around €30 per head (far less than the €50 average in the restaurant’s former incarnation). The Daron also has a very creditable brunch on Sundays, even though, like almost every brunch spot in Paris, it tends to overcharge for that particular privilege. Another successful innovation is the tapas menu (priced from €2 to €15) for those who want a light meal with a drink before the theater or cinema.
The menu changes with the seasons. When they are available, I would recommend the beautifully fresh sardines with vegetables for a satisfying but not too-heavy lunch, and the beef back steak (onglet de boeuf) with foie gras, served with green peppers and mashed potato, in the evening. Other notable Daron specialties are the foie gras mi-cuit as a starter, and, as a main course, the stuffed guinea-fowl with chestnut purée and grapes or the shepherd’s pie (made with duck rather than lamb). On the dessert front, I have enjoyed the panna cotta flavored with bergamot and the poached pear with chocolate. The good, affordable wine selection starts at around €20 a bottle.
Other reasons for my smug contentment at having Le Daron on my doorstep are the charming and courteous service, and the warm, comfortable setting. I thus remain ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing Le Daron to my neighborhood, make it possible to eat well at affordable prices. My apologies once again, Jane.
Le Daron Restaurant Café: 8, rue Hippolyte Lebas, 75009 Paris. Métro: Notre-Dame de Lorette or Cadet. Nearest Vélib stations: Rue Hippolyte Lebas or Rue Lamartine. Tel.: 01 53 20 88 70. Open Monday-Saturday, 11am-2am; Sunday, noon-6pm. A la carte: €15-€20 (lunch), around €30 (dinner). www.ledaron-restaurant.fr
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