I happened to go to Les Arlots with two Paris Update readers, Jenny and Jonathan, on Armistice Day, when the restaurant was in full celebration of the end of World War I, complete with facsimiles of menus from the war years and toy soldiers on the tables.
When the jovial, mustachioed chef-owner, Thomas Brachet, saw me peering curiously into the kitchen, he immediately invited me in and introduced me to his staff and made them pose for this picture:
The menu for this special day included nods to the combatant countries. The tasty “wild oysters from the trenches ” that I had as a starter, for example, were not French but “dwarfs” from the Thames River at Maldon.
Jenny had the hearty, flavorful “bouillon au gras,” filled with lots of goodies: croutons, tender Paimpol beans, ham, beets, carrots and more.
Jonathan chose the lovely lentil salad (billed as “better than in the trenches”) with smoked eel and scallions, a light version of this usually heavy dish.
The main courses were all simple foods well made with the best ingredients: “German” leg of lamb with a fine potato gratin, homemade “war” sausage (certainly far better than soldiers of yore got to eat) with puréed potatoes (this dish was voted “best sausage and mash of the year” by the guide Le Fooding), and red mullet with cabbage cooked in butter and a flavorful fishbone jus. Jenny described it perfectly as “honest bistro food done properly and beautifully presented.”
For dessert, we shared a plate of three fine types of cheese followed by a marvelous, rich rice pudding with orange zest (a terrific addition) and a marble cake that was on the dry side – the only dish I found less than great.
Les Arlots is the kind of place you wish was located around the corner from you (and so it is for some lucky Parisians), so that you could make it your local canteen. I’m considering moving.Favorite