March 24, 2009By Richard HesseArchive


Pros: Well-sourced ingredients, pleasant staff.
Tables too close together; bluefin tuna on the menu (tsk, tsk).

It might be a conceit, but Miroir’s name is nowhere to be seen on the facade; it’s scrawled on the glass door in what looks like lipstick, and you could be forgiven for not seeing it. Other details point to a work in progress or a severe lack of space: there’s nowhere to hang your coat, just a table where diners are invited to fling their coats higgledy-piggledy, and unsightly stacks of wine cartons are piled in the corridor between the wall and the bar, which leads to the pleasant back room with a 19th-century glass skylight.

It’s all part of the warm, friendly, easy-going atmosphere in this recently opened local bistro in a bit of Paris that has more than its fair share of tourist rip-off spots – this very definitely is not one of them. As a result, the place is packed in the evening with local diners who create a pleasant buzz. My date and I weren’t once troubled by the noise levels generated by 40 or so happy eaters.

The wine list is not long, but has some sterling names on it, including Combier (Rhône) and Lapierre (Morgon). We had an Ostertag Riesling to wash the day’s dust off our feet, then segued into a biodynamic Mas Foulaquier Pic Saint Loup L’Orphée (€31), an extremely green and floral mix of Syrah and Grenache grapes without a hint of oak – just lovely.

They’ve got the trendy verrine (food served in a glass) bug here, but what they put in it is so good that we forgave them. Mine was fresh tuna and the lightest of avocado mousses. Hers was flavourful rillettes of scorpion fish (rascasse) topped with an interesting mix of raw shredded vegetables and an artful vinaigrette, and served with toasted strips of brioche. For an additional €5, I could have had a lobster bisque, which looked highly desirable.

The assiette cochonne (cochonne means both “pig” and “bawdy”) came next – pork cooked three ways, including some Basque-style blood sausage from the famed Ospital stable. These three generous chunks of juicy pork came from what had clearly been a happy pig. Nearby was a quarter of an apple, and underneath was a little serving of Savoy cabbage that added extra zing. Super gravy. The other dish was meltingly tender roast lamb with green peppers, which came up to the same high standard of ingredients and cooking.

Four desserts were on offer, including a chevrotin des Aravis, a goat’s milk kissing cousin of reblochon that was a bit short on flavor for the end of a meal, but was certainly well-made and a worthy exemplar of its ilk.

The other dessert was an éclair filled with ginger and orange – it was almost a rum baba, and a real treat. It made a perfect end to the meal, the moment when we also sneaked in a glass of Australian fizz, something endlessly praised by my Australian girlfriend but never before knowingly tasted by me. This was certainly better than many of its French cousins. I can hear the “I told you so’s” from here.

Miroir is a very satisfying dining experience in the Camdeborde, Régalade tradition, made even pleasanter by the friendly, alert staff and agreeable surroundings. The restaurant is, unsurprisingly, very busy.

Richard Hesse
Miroir: 94 rue des Martyrs, 75018 Paris. Tel.: 01 46 06 50 73. Métro: Abbesses.

Nearest Velib stations: 2, rue de la Vieuville; 8, rue Tardieu. Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, brunch on Sundays 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Fixed-price menu: €32*.

* three courses, not including wine

© 2009 Paris Update

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