Instant Success for Neo-Bistro/Café

February 11, 2013By Heidi EllisonRestaurants
Paris Update Richer
A short menu with few faults.

The trendy new place to dine in Paris these days — apart from 6 Paul Bert — is Richer. It has a big advantage over the aforementioned 6 and its own mother ship across the street, L’Office: it is open on weekends. Not only that, but it is open all day, seven days a week for drinks and fancy sandwiches, in addition to lunch and dinner.

The drawback is that it has no telephone and takes no reservations. You just have to show up and, given its popularity, if you want to have lunch or dinner, I recommend that you show up early — and I do mean early. We got there at 7:45 last Saturday night, and the place was already buzzing. Only a few tables in the attractive, sparsely decorated, candlelit dining room with its exposed stone walls and oval mirrors were still free.

Our table, located to the right of the bar and near the kitchen and toilet (which was far enough away to not be a nuisance), was one of two in that spot. Anyone who wants privacy and shelter from the hustle and bustle of the main dining room would do well to sit there.

The changing menu is short but intriguing. On the recommendation of the young Danish couple sitting next to us (the blogosphere has already spread the word around the world about two-month-old Richer), who said it was “like no other egg,” my two companions ordered the egg slow-cooked in the oven for 63 minutes at 63 degrees. The result was a firm but not hard-cooked yolk, served with a creamy corn-based sauce whose sweetness at first seemed off-putting, but actually contrasted nicely with the tangy sauce on top of it and the crunchy bits of dried beef sprinkled around the plate. A treat. I had the crème Dubarry, or cauliflower soup, with four delicious mussels cooked tempura-style floating in it.

Next up: quasi de veau, a thick, tender veal fillet with a bright-green coating on top that turned out to be a mixture of tarragon and flat-leaf parsley – a brilliant addition – served with two fat cannelloni wonderfully stuffed with a mixture of mushrooms and chestnuts.

Paris Update Richer2

Richer is a big hit with trendy young people.

A total success. The other main course we sampled was the dorade (sea bream) on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes. Quieter, but still a success.

Only one minor disappointment marred the overall pleasure of the meal: the pineapple tatin with a lovage-flavored cream, which had nothing special to recommend it and had an unpleasantly soggy crust. My shortbread with passion fruit and hot chocolate sauce, however, was pure delight.

The service, provided by two young men who spoke good English, was agreeable but disorganized. They seemed to be shorthanded, since the chef had to keep running out of the kitchen to deliver dishes and check up on things. And our dishes for each of the three courses were delivered at different times, with the ones that should have been hot arriving tepid.

The next evening, the three of us happened to be in the same neighborhood again and decided to return to Richer since we had enjoyed it so much and knew that it was open on Sunday.

This time, a lovely young Canadian waitress took care of us, and since the restaurant was not nearly as crowded, there were no service problems at all.

We tried a couple of the dishes we had not tasted the night before. My companions had the pig’s head with pickles and a gribiche sauce, which they enjoyed but couldn’t work up any excitement about.

I broke my rule of never ordering chicken in a restaurant (because it is generally not very thrilling and is so easy to make at home) and had the incredibly tender (slow-cooked?) deboned chicken breast. The chef rose brilliantly to the challenge of making it interesting, serving it with richly seasoned pilaf rice, celery foam and puffed rice, which added a nice little crunch. I loved it.

The other dish new to us, the pain de Gênes (Genoa bread) with poached pears, spiced wine and lime, would have been a bit boring if not for the zing of the lime juice.

We ordered the same bottle of wine we had so enjoyed the night before: Stéphanie Ponson’s 2009 Mas Nicot Coteaux de Languedoc.

Richer is a marvelous addition to the ninth arrondissement, where more and more good restaurants are opening. Go there as soon as you can.


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