Le Repaire de Cartouche

Le Repaire de Cartouche Restaurant in Paris | Paris By MouthThis simple bistro has for years been a favorite among wine lovers, who arrive hoping to plumb the depths of Rodolphe Paquin’s cellar. Whether you taste something from the carte, or persuade Paquin to share an off-list treasure from his cave, wine is undoubtedly the highlight of any experience here. Paquin’s terrines are also extraordinary. He’s written a book about the subject and sells them whole in ceramic crocks to go. In autumn and winter, this is the place to go for wild game. Everything else here is pretty average, except for the service, which is atrocious. Two different tables stormed out during my most recent visit. What saves the experience for some is the joyful welcome from Paquin, the affable host (some ladies might say too affable) who greats regulars like long lost friends. Since I’ve been coming for years, I get a squeeze and a smile but still suffer through the terrible service… no one is safe. Visitors to Paris who can’t cite a winemaker connection or who haven’t yet been introduced will most likely be ignored and wondering why we’ve included this on our site. We’ve included it to reclassify Le Repaire de Cartouche as a great place to sit at the bar without reservations, order wine with a slab of terrine, and wait for your table to open up at Au Passage. It’s still great fun as a wine bar, even if it can no longer deliver as a restaurant.

Fish (La Boissonnerie)

This popular restaurant and wine bar run by Drew Harre and Juan Sanchez is a sort of Anglo haven, excellent for a quick glass, a solo dinner at the bar, or for those times when you’re just tired of speaking French. The wine list is populated by small producers, many of them organic and bio-dynamic, with fair prices and plenty of options by the glass. They’re open every day, and we often find ourselves here on a Sunday or Monday when so many other restaurants are closed. Compared to their sister restaurant Semilla, the more gastronomic option across the street, Fish is the reliable bistro and a genuine Saint-Germain institution.

Verjus Bar à Vins

This tiny space near the Palais Royal functions functions both as a neighborhood wine bar and as a holding tank for those waiting for their table at the restaurant upstairs. The printed wine list is filled with so many interesting bottles, and the ever-changing chalkboard list has plenty of options by the glass. The food options have changed several times over the years. Their famous fried chicken is no longer available here, having moved over to Ellsworth, but you can still order small plates to nibble with your wine. Options on the menu right now include veal tartare, house-made pork and duck terrine with pistachios, and warm Mont d’Or cheese with pickled mushrooms. Groups of more than two will have a hard time squeezing in, but the intimate space is perfect for an apéro before dinner upstairs or elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Le Siffleur de Ballons

Sommelier-turned-restaurateur Thierry Bruneau’s versatile and tasteful neighborhood wine bar is a cherished mainstay of the Aligre neighborhood. It’s got a long, lively bar for solo diners, a bevy of small tables for couples and small groups, and a rear room that can be privatized for minor occasions. Managers Tristan Renoux and Frederick Malpart curate the dynamic, well-priced, mostly natural wine selection with an enthusiasm almost unheard of in the Paris hospitality scene. And the bar’s simple menu of salads and gourmet foodstuffs is anchored by a brilliant steak for two, prepared in the kitchen of Bruneau’s restaurant across the road, L’Ebauchoir. Bottles can also be purchased to go.