Le Grand Pan

March 17, 2009By Richard HesseArchive


Carefully sourced food
Quiet, very local vibe

Ditzy service
Miles from anywhere

It seems odd to name a restaurant after the only god reputed to have died in prehistoric times. Certainly, the temptation to start reaching for the mythological conceits is strong, because this restaurant, in one of the remoter bits of Paris, is all about satisfying earthy, carnivorous appetites.

Meat. Meat in huge chunks, with very little done to it except the application of scorching heat, is the house specialty. The chalkboard on the wall announces, as Pan’s permanent fixtures, a platter of pedigreed charcuterie to be followed by equally pedigreed rib of beef, pork chops or veal chop, all in servings for two (going on four).

There is also a daily menu on a smaller chalkboard brought to the table by the pleasant waitress. From this we chose half a dozen gorgeously meaty fines de claires Marennes d’Oleron oysters that tasted fresher than the morning dew on Pan’s hooves.

Largely because it took the waitress 20 minutes to press a drink into my date’s hand, the bivalves went down with a glass of Michel Drappier’s delightfully nutty all Pinot Noir, zero-dosage champagne. This was the first of many instances throughout the evening that this otherwise pleasant lady demonstrated a lackadaisical attitude toward keeping her clients supplied with the needful.

The other starter was another high-protein concoction of creamed morel mushrooms, a fried egg and a rasher of streaky, crispy Iberian bacon. Leaving aside the noticeable salt and grit levels in the morels, this was good hearty bistro fare, very satisfying after a day at the coalface.

A dainty quail followed, done two ways to perfection. My spring lamb looked and tasted as if less than a week old, the meat on the little chops incredibly pale and tender, yet with a surprising amount of flavor. Two of the chops went with a generous helping of what may have been braised rolled breast of lamb. The overall effect was one of an abundance of fragrant flesh, which, when combined with a casserole of Coco de Paimpol white beans and an additional helping of hand-cut fries, had me totally befuddled with food. It would have fed four adequately.

The fries deserve extra-special mention. I was convinced they were really oven-roasted, but the waitress swore by the gods that they were double-cooked, not par-boiled first, and most definitely deep-fried. Their texture was outstanding, and they had been tossed in a small amount of fried garlic. Need I say more?

How I had the space for cheese I do not know, but such is my devotion to duty that I tackled the cheese board, which is the one area where some improvements could be made. There was something niggardly in the presentation, although I must admit that the camembert was properly ripe.

The wine list is short and thoughtfully chosen. Many of the wines come in carafes, and we took advantage of this to drink a carafe of Entre Deux Mers with the starters, and another of Marcel Lapierre’s springy Fleury with the meat. Very good value for money.

To eat at Le Grand Pan, you need to be of a decidedly bucolic persuasion, and if you are, then you will obviously be mostly among like-minded locals and devoted pilgrims. The diners were clearly enjoying their food and each other’s company, yet noise levels in the plain dining room were consistently comfortable. This is a good find, in a bit of Paris that the tourists won’t find.

Richard Hesse

Le Grand Pan: 20, rue Rosenwald, 75015 Paris. Tel.: 01 42 50 02 50. Métro : Plaisance
Nearest Vélib station: 13, rue Franquet. Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner. A la carte: around €40*.

* three courses, not including wine

© 2009 Paris Update

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