I feel like I’m at risk for becoming one of those people who never leaves her neighborhood; who, to the great annoyance of friends, only agrees to do things within walking distance.
There’s a fantastic newish rotisserie on rue Faubourg St. Martin that has made it unnecessary to ever roast my own chicken. I get a certain sandwich from a nearby Lebanese traiteur so frequently it’s embarrassing. Café Tolo is good for a simple lunch, and I’m singlehandedly keeping El Nopal in business. A bit further down is Le Verre Volé, of course, a default choice for an evening out.
And now there’s Philou, a fantastic chef-owned bistro offering good seasonal cooking at very reasonable prices. The chef in question is Philippe Damas, who ran the beautiful Square Trousseau until 2008.
Philou is not a bad looking place, either, though the mix of modern and classic lacks the kind of charm one looks for in a Parisian bistro. I think it will look better when the newness has worn off and it feels a bit more lived in.
None of this really matter once you start eating. The terrine of foie gras is silky and perfect. A generous sauté of early cepes, well-seasoned and brightened with herbs and a splash of vinegar justified its supplemental charge.
Roast grouse hid a stuffing of foie gras, and crisp skinned chicken was almost upstaged by the accompanying girolles.
Damas’ cooking is seasonal, so the menu was not the same a couple weeks later, when we started with parsnip soup and (again) that foie gras. For mains we had a strong roast duck (the wild canard colvert – a different bird entirely if you’ve only ever had farmed fowl) with juicy figs, and bar with girolles sauced with a bit of savory, meaty jus.
We had more figs for dessert, in a classic tart, along with a delicious “poire croustillante” – a crisp and hot envelope of feuille de brick (like filo) holding aromatic pears, served with caramel ice cream.
Wines are natural and affordable, and many are available by the carafe. Before wine, if you avoid the supplements, you can easily spend under 3o euros, particularly at lunch, where one, two, or three courses go for 15, 20, or 25 euros.
Any neighborhood would be lucky to have a restaurant like this but, lucky for me, Philou is in mine.
Philou 12 avenue Richerand, Paris 75010, +33 (0)1 42 38 00 13 Lunch and dinner, Tues-Sat
Read my write up of Philo at Girls’ Guide to Paris
Philou according to Le Fooding
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