Vegetarians, avert your eyes now. This review is about restaurants where meat meets carnivore, to the latter’s great delight…
While Pierrot and the American Bistrot vary greatly in style, the substance is the same: their basic stock in trade is high-quality meat. Both serve flavorful, lean Aubrac beef, for example.
Let’s start with Pierrot. This is no neo-bistro. It serves all the old-fashioned favorites – confit de canard, carré d’agneau (rack of lamb), calf’s kidneys, calf’s liver (and one concession to non-meat-eaters: cod), plus that Aubrac beef in the form of entrecôte, rumsteack and tartare – all done to perfection with quality ingredients. You might find the same dishes on many inexpensive, touristy restaurants, but they will not taste this good. I had the delicious entrecote served with crispy pommes sautées without a trace of greasiness.
Desserts are just as classic and just as good, all homemade. I tasted the excellent mousse au chocolat, light in texture and rich in flavor, and the profiteroles, a dessert that can be awful if not homemade, just right here.
Another refreshing aspect of Pierrot was the decor: bistro-style with lots of mirrors reflecting to infinity, walls painted a creamy color, decorated with big vases of white orchids and hydrangeas. It was elegant in a simple way. The service was just right, too, friendly without being overbearing, professional and efficient. While the prices are not cheap, they are not that high either, especially now that they are creeping up fast everywhere else.
Pierrot should be on everyone’s list of reliable, no-stress stand-bys. We went there to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and it was a fine choice.
The next encounter with Aubrac beef came the following evening at the American Bistrot, an entirely different experience: loud, trendy, youthful and lots of fun. We immediately bonded with Nicolas, the extravagant singing, shouting, super-sweet co-owner, and the waitress with a wry sense of humor, who gracefully danced the food to our table.
The food. We were starving after seeing a long super-hero film, so we naughtily ordered the nachos as a starter. I thought I was back in the States when the gooey cheese-covered mess arrived, but it was much better than it would have been there (although equally sinful), with its tortilla chips, pickled hot peppers, barbecue sauce and gobs of cheese.
Then came the burgers, the American Bistrot burger with pastrami, cheddar cheese, lettuce,
tomato, pickles, pastrami and honey mustard, and the Burger de Marcel, with Comté cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, onion jam and béarnaise sauce. The latter was my favorite, although both were delicious, with the nice, lean beef standing out, while each of the other ingredients held its own, including the sesame bun. The homemade fries were just right, too, as were the crispy onion rings.
Yes, reader, we ordered dessert after all that, but at least we shared it: a marvelous, oversized hunk of light, delicious cheesecake with a thick layer of cream on top.
Now that once-rare burgers are available in half the restaurants in Paris (a worldwide trend? – the same was true in Madrid when I was there recently), those who crave this addictive American specialty need to be selective. I highly recommend the American Bistrot, a cross between a diner and a French bistro, as its name implies, where American food (cooked by an American chef) is successfully brought up to French standards, but only when you are in the mood for a lively evening. Other burger hotspots, neither of them particularly calm and relaxing either, are Blend and the Camion qui Fume.