Dining in a Time Warp
|The lively scene at Robert et Louise.|
After hearing the distressing news that yet another Starbucks has opened in Paris – this one on the Rue Mouffetard – it was a relief to pay a visit to a Paris institution the other day and discover that it is not only unchanged and thriving but is also more enjoyable than ever.
Back in the 1960s Robert et Louise started charbroiling côtes de boeuf (rib steaks) over an open fire in the back of their small restaurant on the Rue Vieille-du-Temple in the Marais. With its low prices, the place was popular with impecunious students, some of whom paid the bill with paintings, which still hang on the walls (don’t expect any Picassos), along with all sorts of photos and kitschy memorabilia.
Sadly, Robert has now passed away, and Louise is retired, but a cheerful new generation – daughter Pascale and her husband and nephew – have taken over and left the place as just as it was. The only change they have made is to open the red-checked curtains that had always been mysteriously closed under the reign of the previous generation. Now passersby get a glimpse of the cozy interior, packed with carnivores eating red meat and crispy fried potatoes (vegetarians can enjoy the excellent mushroom omelet) off small round cutting boards instead of plates on rough wooden tables while chatting with their neighbors and the staff.
This time warp back to the good old days is warm, rustic, noisy and fun – you won’t find many places like it in Paris anymore, especially in the chic heartland of the Marais.
Robert et Louise: 64, rue Vieille-du-Temple. Tel.: 01 42 78 55 89.
Readers Alan and Jane Belkin write: “We just got back from a wonderful three-week trip to Paris. After so many visits, we had lunch in a great restaurant in the Marais called Robert and Louise. This was the best steak we have ever had in Paris.” June 19, 2009
Reader Joe Wright writes: “Prior to my visit to Paris I joined the e-mail list of Paris Update, and I am so glad that I did as it helped me out in choosing where to go and what to do – and has also given me ideas for some activities when I visit again next summer with my wife and two (not so young) children. In particular I am so glad that I reserved a meal at Chez Robert et Louise. It provided me with an insight into what good, wholesome French cooking is all about. Escargots, gigot d’agneau (bien cuit), fromages, accompanied by un verre de vin rouge with coffee and armagnac to finish. A meal to die for! I will definitely be taking my family there in July, but also to another little restaurant that I discovered, thanks to the Irish barman in the Fifth bar in Rue Mouffetard, called Le Pot de Terre in Rue le Pot de Fer. A quaint, ancient-looking little restaurant, but one that served up a menu that proved to be as good as that at Chez Robert et Louise, and that takes some doing! Soupe de poisson, beef with duck kidney (an interesting combination) and chocolate cake. Delicious! I will also definitely be going back there in the summer. You are so lucky to have all these wonderful restaurants!”
© 2009 Paris Update
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