La Poule au Pot

Address: 9 Rue Vauvilliers, 75001
Hours: Open every day for lunch & dinner
Telephone+33 1 42 36 32 96
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La Poule au Pot is a looker. It’s wonderful to walk in and witness the vintage wallpaper, the globe lighting, and the silver-plated serving chariot wheeling between Pepto-Bismol colored tables. It is at once a little elegant and also a touch cheesy. One can almost picture the 80s pop stars who used to slouch into these red banquettes, the mirrored pillars reflecting their manliner and sprayed hair.

Silver serving cart

Today’s Poule au Pot, having been recently rebooted by star chef Jean-François Piège, reflects something different – a desire for traditional cuisine bourgeouise and also the willingness (by some) to pay for it. The last decade has seen a proliferation of modern & creative cooking in Paris – food that requires explanation and could come from anywhere. Perhaps in reaction to this trend, we’ve witnessed a recent resurgence of places serving classic French cuisine. Some, like L’Assiette, are moderately priced. La Poule au Pot joins La Bourse et la Vie (Daniel Rose) and Benoît (Alain Ducasse) at the other end of the price spectrum. These haute bistros are designed for clients who are willing to drop a fat wad for food and wine – those who don’t bat an eye over spending 100€ per person. There are plenty of people (some local, many foreign) willing to spend this kind of money at restaurants. In the past, it wasn’t for food that (some)one’s grandmother might have made. Now it is.

Œufs mimosa

Is it good? Absolutely – in the same way that L’Ami Louis is very good: when prices do not matter. If you have the means, or if someone else is picking up the check, or if you’ve accepted a free press meal, then you can relax and simply enjoy. Since we paid our own way, we couldn’t help but notice a few cracks in the veneer. Early on, the œufs mimosa (fancy deviled eggs) topped with crispy cracking were delightful, but the gratinée à l’oignon prompted a shrug. The frogs’ legs arrived still frying in a pool of oil, and that fat provided their only flavor.

Frogs’ legs

Much better were the turbot with spinach, hollandaise & pureed potatoes (52€), and the merlan frit Colbert (fried whiting). The latter was only 28€, but the accompanying fries were limp and soggy. These minor issues might not even register if the meal were more affordable. However, when restaurants have the audacity to charge high prices for comfort food, they set themselves up to be more carefully judged. 

Soggy fries

If I return, I’ll probably be looking for ways to soften the blow – for example, by taking the set menu for 48€ or by focusing on snacks and starters and then sharing one of the copious mains. I’m willing to spend a lot more on food, I’m just not sure that I’m willing to spend a lot more here. The chances of a return visit are high, because La Poule au Pot is open every day, is bookable online, and is centrally located. I just wish I were more excited about it.

La Poule au Pot in Pictures

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