I had most of a day to wander parts of this exquisitely sentimental city, but of course it was Sunday so many of the delights were shuttered. I decided to explore the neighbourhood called Oberkampf at the intersection of the classy 3rd and more downscale 10th and 11th Arrondissements. I wasn’t disappointed.
The streets were alive with Parisians (I also walked around the very much more touristic Left Bank where every language but French is spoken), young families, old men and ladies, singles on the prowl. There were enough busy sidewalk cafés on this pleasant sunny day to attract me but it was lunchtime and I was hungry, and suddenly at the intersection of Rues Oberkampf and Gambrey there was a chalkboard sign outside an open doorway with a riot of excitement and beautiful smells pouring onto the sidewalk. I walked in and was shown to a seat at the crowded bar.
Behind the bar, young serious people were preparing the simple offerings. One chose among 2 to 5 courses, all dishes fixed. I just had two, grilled shrimp with chopped lightly cooked corn and seasoned cut-up grilled vegetables: potato, beans… all with a slightly sour dressing, and then a lovely grilled non-prime cut of pork along with a celeriac purée and another tomato-based sauce with some heat, surrounded by wilted cabbage and lettuce in another lovely sour dressing. A glass of aligote and another of Mercurey kept me happy.
The price was €35
It’s certainly possible to go wrong in Paris, but I find if I stick to my Triple Test: Is the place crowded with locals? Is it reasonably clean and efficient at first glance? and Is there a wonderful smell when you open the door? things usually work out.
Food 8.8, service 8.5, ambience 9.2, value 9.3, peace and quiet not relevant.