Le Baratin

Le Baratin Restaurant in Paris | Paris By Mouth
All photos by Meg Zimbeck

Food and wine pilgrims, particularly those who read the New York Times or watch Anthony Bourdain, are willing to climb the hill for this Belleville institution. Raquel Carena tends the fire, offering her own personal brand of bistro cooking – sometimes delicate, sometimes hearty, always heartfelt. In stark contrast to the loving kitchen, the dining room is cold as ice, thanks to the joyless leadership of Carena’s husband Philippe. After more than a decade of hopeful visits, I haven’t yet received a smile or any helpful wine guidance from the patron. His cellar is reputed to be one of the best in the city, with an emphasis on independent producers and natural wines. However, he is an unwilling ambassador for these wines and a significant drag on the overall experience. I love Carena’s cooking, but I won’t hurry back because I fear that, once again, I’ll be treated with glaring disinterest by Philippe and the dining room staff who mirror his attitude. For those who really want to try their luck, go at lunch. The dining room, which is harshly over-lit at night, reveals itself beautifully in the sunlight, and the lunch menu for 19 euros remains an incredible deal.

Practical information

Address: 3 rue Jouye-Rouve, 75020
Nearest transport: Pyrenées (11), Belleville (2, 11)
Hours: Closed Sunday and Monday; Open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and dinner; Open Saturday for dinner only
Reservations: Book a few days in advance
Telephone: 01 43 49 39 70

Le Baratin in pictures

What people are saying

The Infatuation (2016) admits that “we’re not big on the whole “go to this place just because Anthony Bourdain did” thing, but it is true that Anthony Bourdain visited Le Baratin during one of his episodes of The Layover. But the more important point to be made is that Le Baratin is a place where Parisian chefs eat. Owner Raquel Corina [sic] is a bit of a legend in the local restaurant community, and her food is simple and homey and exactly what you want to eat when you’re in Paris.”

Le Fooding observes that “for almost thirty years, Raquel Carena has been welcoming star chefs, neighborhood intellectuals and well-informed tourists into her gem of a bistro (a wood and copper bar, opus incertum tiling, an eclectic library) in the North of Paris, with no excess chitchat but with metronomic consistency.

The New York Times (2011) “This two-room place looks as if it put itself together with a design fee of zero. Yet it’s attractive and hip, at least in the style of an older generation… There are elegant touches, however, like the lovely water carafes sitting on the bar, and the easy, affordable and instantly likable wine list. Pintade — guinea hen — was cooked perfectly, the dark meat braised and the white roasted, along with mushrooms and cabbage cooked in butter.”

Timeout (2012) “Star pastry chef Pierre Hermé visits this cheerful little bistro and wine bar high up in Belleville at least every two weeks to fill up on Raquel Carena’s homely cooking with the occasional exotic twist… If the food weren’t so fantastic, it would still be worth coming for the mostly organic wines. Le Baratin attracts gourmands from all over Paris – so be sure to book.”

John Talbott (2011) disagrees with François Simon’s declaration that this is the best restaurant in Paris, finding his dish of chicken livers “topped with tasteless chopped peanuts and salad” to be the best of three entrées tasted. He calls the bread “miserable” and uses the word “OK” to describe both the veal and the cheese.

Figaroscope (2011) includes this among their 15 favorite bistrots in Paris, praising the competitively priced lunch menu and saying that you won’t find anything epic or sophisticated here, just precision and taste. “So much so that a simple raw salmon with lemongrass… can be a great moment.”

Simon Says (2011) wonders “is this the best restaurant in Paris?” and praises Raquel Carena for spending more time in the kitchen than self-promoting in the media. He is “delighted and contented” by the cavalcade dishes including sea bass with smoked vinegar, veal brain, and sweetbreads.

Alexander Lobrano (2008) says that “every time I go to this restaurant, I fall in love with her food all over again… [Carena] cooks from her heart and also cooks from a winsome artistic sensibility that she’s probably still unaware of. Think a sort of gastronomic Grandma Moses, or a cook who paints with broad strokes of sincerity, innovative, and wit.” However, he warns that “Belleville, where Le Baratin is located, is a pain-in-the-neck cab ride from anywhere most tourist are likely to be staying in Paris, the room is tiny and noisy and has little decor aside from a few paintings by local artists, and if you’re not sincerely interested in tasting a rare dose of la vie boheme in Paris today, this restaurant is not for you.”

Le Baratin in video

Anthony Bourdain’s Paris episode for “The Layover.” The segment on Le Baratin begins around the 37:40 mark.

11 Comments on Le Baratin

  1. I am going to Paris this April/May and was planning on going to Baratin. Since I first read of it, it was on my list, but somehow I never made it. Now, I am wondering if I should use one of my precious meals at a disrespectful place. I am sorry, but cultural backrground should not influence how one is treated. In any case, I am not american but wear the maple leaf proudly. I was planning on stopping at the canal and having lunch at baratin or maybe at Roseval( or any other recommendations.) I am inclined to give them a chance.

  2. I normally do not leave comments, but felt compelled to share my deeply disappointing experience at Le Baratin. I was really excited to try it, as I have not been let down by Paris by Mouth recommendations until now. The meal was fine, nothing great, nothing terrible, but the way the owner treated my party was rude at best, and unprintable words at worst. While finishing our bottle of wine (still a third of it left) and our dessert, the owner approached our table and asked us to leave, as there were other people waiting for the table. He proceeded to lie to my face, saying that he had specifically told me on the phone that we could only have the table until 9:00 pm, when in reality I had made the reservation via La Fourchette and never spoke to the man. For context, I am not a tourist. I live in Paris, and I speak passable, if flawed French. I understand that restaurants need to turn tables and I do not expect gilt-edged service at a bistro, but there is no excuse to tell a customer who has just spent over 200 euros on a meal that he needs to leave while there is still food and drink on the table so that the next customer can be served, let alone to do so in such an uncouth, uncivilized, patronizing manner. I will never return to Le Baratin, and I hope at least some readers will choose not to try it, as there are a plethora of other options in Paris with equal or better food and owners deserving of their patronage.

  3. Hi John,
    While it’s true that lunch would be an easier walk-in than dinner, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to make a booking. The space is very small, so there’s a good chance they’d be full. We hope that you have a great time eating in Paris!

  4. Hello, wondering if reservations are required for lunch at Le Baratin or just for dinner. Trying to plan when and where to eat in Paris. Too many great places, not enough time!

  5. First time visitor to Paris, staying with a friend who has lived here for 25 years. Would never have found Le Baratin on my own, but having just arrived back at my flat after dinner there, would recommend to anyone. Two app’s, two entrees, one dessert and a small plate of fromage, a split glass of Condrieu and 50cl of vin rouge = $118eu. One of the better meals I’ve had for the $$ in a while, with very good food, excellent service and an energetic, happy crowd. Would recommend for any person – tourist, Brit, Yank or just person – who is looking for a great neighborhood restaurant.

  6. Top 3 restaurant in the world for me. Love is the only word I need. Yes, the service is not the most welcoming. In fact, they probably do not want any tourist there but this a real authentic Paris experience. I’m going back in two weeks for my honeymoon and my new wife to be loves it every bit as much as me. Love dammit LOVE!

  7. “Dont go.”
    I’m shocked, shocked.
    Francois Simon said in October that Le Baratin [was, might be, couldh’ve been] the BEST restaurant in Paris.
    This is why there are culinary blogs and independant food websites.

  8. The owner has a reputation as a jerk, and I can confirm from 2 experiences that it’s true. There are plenty of places just as good with a courteous welcome. Dont go.

  9. Sour remarks directed at tourists, Americans, the New York Times and the impact of publicity on any restaurant are terribly tedious. We’re all tourists now and again, and as an Englishman with many wonderful American friends, I am mystified by the snippy attitude towards Yanks that prevails among Britain’s chattering classes and a few Gauls.

  10. Well the NYT certainly did this place a disservice since it’s now covered with tourists speaking “American”, Nonetheless it still offers great, simple, food with reasonably cheerful service and house cat that makes you envious of her pampered life.

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