This 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.
Address: 8 boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75011
Nearest transport: St. Sebastian Froissart (8)
Hours: Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner; Open Sunday & Monday for lunch only
Reservations: Book a few days in advance
Telephone: 01 47 00 25 86
Le Repaire de Cartouche in photos
What people are saying
Time Out (2012) also complains about the service. ” Everything is right about this restaurant – the flavours, the original, high quality dishes – but at these prices, the service leaves a lot to be desired. The patron’s friends might be warmly welcomed, but the average client might get stuck with a characteristically grumpy French waiter – at €150 for two (and no digestif!) this is one tradition we could do without.”
Not Drinking Poison in Paris (2011) calls this “the perennial fallback reservation of every visiting wine industry person I know” and says it “ain’t broke” but then goes on to detail a great number of faults with the experience. He concludes that “as long as the team behind Le Repaire de Cartouche can tolerate the modern world, and as long as the modern world can tolerate the team behind Le Repaire de Cartouche, it will continue to be possible to have a perfectly satisfying meal there.”
Barbra Austin (2011) says “yes, many people have had terrible service experiences at Le Repaire. But aside from the fact that it is extremely difficult to procure a carafe of water here, I haven’t really had any problems. And the food, as a visit early this year reaffirmed, is a fantastic, high fat French feast. House made terrines and pâtés, foie gras all over the place, pork in many forms, wild game in season…Prepare to be stuffed.”
John Talbott (2010) says “I just love the place, from its tall chef, Rodolphe Paquin, who has run the NYC Marathon and frequents dives such as the Enfants Rouges after service hours to the charming wall paintings to the carte, it’s a safe harbor.”
L’Express (2009) includes this in their roundup of places to eat wild game, citing a dish of grouse breast in cabbage, a fricassée of wild hare in mustard, and a daube of wild boar.
David Lebovitz (2009) recounts another episode of terrible service, concluding that “it’s sad to see the dining room staff not take pride in the food they were offering, and not do even a halfway-decent job serving it*. It’s especially unfortunate when the kitchen is working so hard to make such great food. And for all the flak the French get about customer service, even in simple cafés, the waiters are invariably quite professional and mindful of the customers. I can forgive incompetent service or waiters who get busy or forget something, but can’t forgive them if they’re purposefully disagreeable and act like children.”
Alexander Lobrano (2009) “I’ve had several complaints about the service at Le Repaire de Cartouche and also at Mon Vieil Ami, and so I’m putting both restaurants on a watch list…”
We had a most marvelous lunch here on a Saturday in late September, 2014. It was our second visit. The year before, again at lunch, the service had been a little brusque but it was more informal and rustic than it was mean-spirited, in my opinion. This year our waiter, Batiste, was an absolute joy. Chef Paquin was in the dining room greeting his customers (as he had done the year before) and we had a long and hilarious conversation with him about his trip to NYC with his chefly friends, and their participation in the NYC marathon. We will dine there on all future trips to Paris. Chef may not always be in such a happy and expansive mood….he is, after all, human…but what chef is always in a good mood?
Des plats succulents et toujours étonnants… dommage que le service soit aussi peu agréable.
Totally backing Alexander’s comment: delicious food but poor service. I am ashamed to be a Parisian when I see such a bad service…