La Regalade has long been on my list of I have got to get to this bistro soon destinations in Paris. But something always got in the way or steered me elsewhere. The restaurant sold in 2004 and worse yet there were soon a second and then another location. Despite these questions, I booked a late reservation for our group of 4 for dinner a few weeks ago.
For those who wish a little history, La Regalade was one of the first ‘nouveau’ bistros that opened in the past 20 years as chefs left the more rigid Michelin starred restaurants to start places of their own in less popular districts like the 14th. Yves Camdeborde was one of those chefs in this movement and his restaurant was legendary. The food was traditional, forward and reasonably priced. He was also part of great group of chefs that remain large on the Paris bistro scene as the anniversary parody poster to the left attests with his compatriots Christian Constant and Jean Pierre Vitagot.
The chef who has been running it since 2004 is Bruno Doucet, with an equally strong culinary background he has continued to build out this vision of a updated traditional french food served in a brusque but warm atmosphere. Camdeborde has moved on Le Comptoir in the 6th where I enjoyed a quick meal at their less formal space Avant Le Comptoir (you can read about that meal here).
We arrived on time at 930 to a crowded house with people spilling out the door onto Avenue Jean Mouliln. The host/bartender saved the day, quickly getting us a bottle of bone dry bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc and directing us onto the street where a bench and a large oak barrel awaited us. There sat a huge terrine of very rustic homemade pate, sliced baguette and a crock of cornichon (pickles) and onions, plates knives and forks. Just try that under most health codes. The message was clear, eat as much as you want. We tried but after 30 minutes we were growing cold, impatient and hungry. They did not forget us, brought us inside and apologizing (yes in Paris) seated us around 1015pm. Here is our motley crew, out in the dark just before being seated.
The house was loud and rocking. Servers moved throughout the small farm house like room telling jokes and keeping the place loose. I can’t remember a meal where I laughed as much in recent times.
My appetizer was particularly delicious while light, Coquilles St. Jacques marinated in lemon juice so it cooked ceviche style with wild mushrooms and what was called pesto but was more of a basil vinaigrette. Although I wound not have guessed it, the slice of parmesan provided a good counterpoint to the barely cooked scallops.
My main course was properly cooked (rose) magret (duck breast) over a bed of wilted spinach with small potatoes and sliced garlic. No sauce to annoy either.
Fred’s 14 oz Entrecôte (rib eye) came with a warning that matched the attitude of the house, it is served cooked only one way: Signant. And it was gorgeous covered in chopped shallots and parsley and some butter perhaps. And was it rare. Note the lack of a side dish. Why bother?
As we finished the bottle of Cotes de Brouilly (a clean dry Gamay from Beaujolais) another question emerged. Could it be that some of the best wines never make it out France? At 38 euro it was an easy pour and not overpriced. Hmmmm.
Things actually got better from there when dessert appeared. Now I am not a dessert person so maybe my opinions are not the most erudite but the Grand Marinier Souffle jiggled and shook like a willow tree (thanks BB). It was light as a feather though to me so sweet! The soufflé is famous for a reason. Order it as it must be cooked in advance.
Ron practically sank under the weight of an enormous porcelain tub of Riz Au Lait (rice pudding) with the usual warm caramel sauce. Enough dessert for 2 or 3 which he somehow ate. Yes, that is a wooden spoon and that is the serving dish.
We spilled out onto a quite sidewalk after midnight fully satisfied. The tab was 60 euro each, about 75 dollars a person. Remember, this is a 35 euro prix fixe diner. I can’t imagine matching this meal in terms of food quality, fun quotient and wine in the States.
La Regalade is a place to go have fun. Rub elbows. Relax. For us to enjoy a meal so thoroughly after being seated 45 minutes late is testament to their approach. Keep the client happy. That can happen in Paris too.
49 Avenue Jean Moulin
33 1 45 68 58
We secured our reservation through The Fork, the on-line reservation service about a month in advance. I suggest you do the same.
Closest Metro: Alessia
About 20 minutes cab from the yellow flat.