Here’s the Beef
|Le Severo owner William Bernet stands proud in front of his menu.|
Simplicity and goodness rule at Le Severo. This is the place to go when you crave a big hunk of flavorful beef with a side of crispy French fries.
There’s nothing special about the small, bistro-style dining room with a wood-dominated decor. The focus here is on the plate (not a trendy square one, but a plain, old-fashioned round one), which contains only simply prepared products of the highest quality, chosen from a short menu limited mostly to meat, meat and more meat, with just a hint of greenery (salads offered with a couple of the starters) on offer.
This is not just any beef, but Limousin beef selected and carefully aged by owner William Bernet, a former butcher who knows his cuts of meat. He is also the only waiter at Le Severo, providing a sweet, quiet presence as he moves deftly around the room, serving each table quickly and efficiently.
We started with thin slices of jamón iberico, served with crusty homemade bread and a big lump of fresh butter. For the main course, most of the diners in the tiny restaurant (with a couple of dozen seats) were scarfing down the côte de bœuf (not a bargain at €80 for two, but surely worth it). We tried the faux filet, which was juicy, flavorful, cooked to rare perfection and had just the right balance of tenderness and chewiness. The fries were just right, too (though the Café des Musées still gets my vote for best fries in Paris). Warning: do not reach for the salt shaker at Le Severo until you have tasted the food; both the meat and fries came out of the kitchen perfectly salted.
For dessert, we tried the Saint Marcellin cheese, which Bernet served with a spoon, necessary because of the liquid state of this perfect example of its kind, and a not-too-sweet reine-claude plum tart, which tasted like it been made by a French grandmère with a special talent for making shortbread-style crust.
The variety and quality of the wines (with a wide range of prices) on offer is another plus here. We chose a lovely Crozes Hermitage from Dard et Ribo, priced at €34.
The two main drawbacks of this meat-eaters’ paradise (vegetarians may abstain) are the high noise level, which forces everyone to shout at their dining companions to be heard, and the tightly spaced tables (I kept bumping elbows with the woman sitting next to me as we sawed away at our respective chunks of beef).
Those problems may not be so much in evidence at Bernet’s second restaurant down the street, Le Bis du Severo, which has a prettier decor and a wider menu range, including fish and duck. Assuming that the quality is up to the standards of the original – and there is no reason to think it wouldn’t be – it will be well worth another trip to the southern edge of Paris to try Le Severo’s little sister.
Le Severo: 8 rue des Plantes, 75014 Paris. Métro: Alésia. Tel.: 01 45 40 40 91. Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner; Saturday for lunch only. Closed Sunday. A la carte: around €50.
Le Bis du Severo: 16, rue des Plantes, 75014 Paris. Métro: Alésia. Tel.: 01 40 44 73 09. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday and Monday. A la carte: around €50.
© 2007 Paris Update
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