This little place is like a movie set of a Paris bistro circa 1960s, if not from the Hemingway era. Period-authentic wooden storefront and awning, simple announcements in arcing gold on the windows, a welcome unaffected atmosphere as we look in the door, older middle-aged regulars already seated next to the window. There is a second small room behind with the front area visible, and we elect to sit there.
A nice-looking young middle-aged lady seats us and we peruse the unilingual menu. Between our 730 arrival and 845 when we left the two rooms filled completely but never got offensively noisy. There were two tables of Americans nearby.
This is almost too-perfect traditional French bistro food, somehow aggressively unaffected in 2015: soft egg salad with bacon bits, pissaladiere; boudin noir on a bed of potato, braised lamb shoulder (to select the items we ordered). Everything is displayed on blackboards and everyone gets the €35 menu. My lamb was the high point for me, falling-off-the-bone (without any bone) and fabulously concentrated lamb flavour with an intriguing variety of vegetables in a completely natural reduction. We ended with a cherry clafoutis, ideally seasoned with sugar.
Every bite was absolutely as-advertised. Very tasty and as good as each of the simple traditional dishes gets, but an almost studied absence of haute cuisine. The chef seems to be saying his mother’s cooking was perfectly okay, why bother with affected cuisine minceur and fusion?
Server and her younger clearing-away colleague got a little harried and verging on crabby as we struggled with the names of a few of the items, but completely without extra attitude. A nice Mercurey and a glass of Sancerre washed down dinner and drove away any sense of stress over the service.
Touted in the Michelin guide as one of the better values around, this unassuming emblem of traditional French bistrosity set us back about C$180. Food 8.5, service 7.1, ambience 8.9, value 6.2.