La Régalade is one of this city’s most beloved classic bistros. Founded by Yves Camdeborde in 1992, it was left in the hands of Bruno Doucet, a chef who (high praise) didn’t ruin it. I visited this bastion of bistronomy last year, loved my meal, but never returned. I suppose that distance trumped delicious. How excited was I, then, to learn that Doucet was opening a new location in central Paris? Daniel Rose filled me in about this when I ran into him yesterday at Spring Boutique (I am addicted, of all things, to their spelt). After chiding me for not being up on the news, Rose suggested we try to book a dinner right away. Right away turned out to be the very same (opening) night.
I hesitated for a split second before accepting, not wanting to criticize a place before the paint on the walls was dry. But I was hungry and up for some fun after a solid week of website construction. So off we went, a motley crew of seven, into the brand new restaurant around the corner. If it sucked, I would remain silent.
Thank goodness it was delicious. From the first moment, when a communal crock of poultry terrine landed on the table, to the very last bite of strawberry dessert, I was happy. Bruno Doucet continues to score with classic dishes based on bright ingredients and sharp technique. Portions are generous, to the point of being painful, and the wine list is stocked with affordable gems like a 2007 Pinot Gris from Ostertag for €40.
The three-course menu at €33 is one of the best dining values in town. As at the original location (and other restaurants like Chez Michel) a few special dishes are available each night for a supplemental charge. Of course we had to try the bright green asparagus with langoustines (+8€), which was better, according to three diners at our table, than they’d had last week at Frédéric Simonin.
I ordered the morels (+6€), which arrived in the shape of a small mountain. I’ve never seen such a generous serving. After eating my fill, I passed them around the table three times and then still had to struggle to finish.
Another winning dish was my poitrine de cochon fermier moelleuse de chez Eric Ospital, la couenne croustillante. In other words, farm-raised pork belly from Eric Ospital (he who puts the song in my croquettes), with a creamy interior and crispy skin. It was exactly as advertised, and the very best belly I’ve ever eaten.
My favorite dessert belonged to Barbra – a Breton sablé with creamy marscapone and bright red Gariguettes. If the strawberry shortcake in Kansas had been this good, I might still be wearing ruby slippers today.
A modest complaint: this freshly-painted beige dining room lacks the soul of its southern counterpart. However, given the choice between an ugly room and a long metro ride, I will take the beige every time. It does seem better suited – given the sparse decor and widely spaced seats, to the Saint-Honore clientèle. It’s hard to imagine Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the noted designer who was sitting nearby, hanging out in that bustling bistro down south.
Open questions: Being more of a glutton than a reporter, I’m not yet sure whether the southern location will remain open, where Doucet will do most of his cooking, or how they plan to maintain these modest prices with a monthly rent that’s rumored to be around €10,000. For the moment, all I can tell you is to GO.
La Régalade Saint-Honoré
123 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001
Tel: 01 42 21 92 40
Closed Saturday & Sunday
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