L’Avant Comptoir

Address: 3, carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006
Hours: Open every day for lunch & dinner
Telephone: No phone
Facebook / Instagram

Since Yves Camdeborde’s audacious, standing-room-only French pintxo bar L’Avant Comptoir opened its doors in 2009, the superlatives to describe it have all been used up. Mouth-wateringly scrumptious! Flooding with natural wine! Pork-tastic!

The subsequent opening of two nearby sibling wine-bars (L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer and L’Avant Comptoir du Marché) has done little to alleviate the mealtime crush at the original. The jostling, the jolly shouts from the bartenders, the thumping Latin pop on the stereo are all integral parts of a dining experience that is more experience than dining. It is a funhouse of charcuterie and offal.

It has matured over the years, notably becoming more hygienic. The tins of free communal rillettes have disappeared – no tragedy, since they were just odd, whipped concoctions of pork fat anyway. When one reaches for the communal mountain of Bordier butter, one is now handed a plate.

Avant-Comptoir interior

As at the other L’Avant Comptoir locations, the pictorial menu suspended from the ceiling serves dual purposes. It clarifies what the whimsically-titled dishes are for the overwhelmingly tourist clientele. But it also disorients, confronting a visitor with a blizzard of choices. A close read reveals they haven’t changed much over the years: charcuterie poppers that are mostly béchamel; sweetish, faintly Asian pork belly; a lugubrious, quivering pork-skin sausage. Many, many dishes arrive sporting magenta curls of pickled onion.

Warm pork skin sausage

The execution of these simple warm tapas has grown uneven, to the extent that even their low prices can feel unjustified, especially in light of wine mark-ups that are high for an establishment offering such minimal service.

The original L’Avant Comptoir remains revolutionary for its steadfast devotion to quality product and a celebratory atmosphere. Today the best way to join the party – and to buy into the hyperbole – is at off-hours, when there’s more elbow room. When ordering, focus on the broad and refined charcuterie selection, which remains among the city’s best.


L’Avant Comptoir in Pictures


In Other Words

Time Out (2017) recounts an instance in which its reviewer helped finish the andouille of some American neighbors at L’Avant Comptoir. It applauds the restaurant for upholding the spirit of a “comptoir populaire.”

Le Fooding (2015) “Even for those disoriented diners who come for an afternoon snack, the ritual is still the same at Camdeborde’s pintxos bar: walk through the door past the plastic curtain, wait at the bar surrounded by artists, tourists or wandering souls (often all three at once…) and find a spot at this tapas bar, with a basket of Thierry Breton bread and a jar of salt from Salies-de-Béarn. You’ll be rewarded with the following: an extremely comforting croque monsieur with marinated oxtail, flash-seared piquillo peppers and a horseradish cream in buttery triangular-shaped bread.”

Epicurious (2014) cites L’Avant Comptoir as one of “10 Restaurants Parisians Won’t Tell You About.” This is true, but only to the extent that actual Paris residents almost never go to L’Avant Comptoir.

Not Drinking Poison in Paris (2011) “I should say that I actually liked the place well enough.  The deal is it’s a quality-conscious, natural-wine, Bordier butter establishment that nevertheless is standing-room only, with self-service bread and condiments, and no plates.”

Dorie Greenspan (2009) “Not to be missed: Iberian ham croquettes (once fried, the ham dissolves inside its crispy shell — too bad I just used the word voluptuous, it would be perfect here, too)…”

Le Figaro (2009)  “Quelques mètres carrés de néogouaille orchestrés par un Camdeborde toujours aussi fameux à faire trinquer mémoire et moderne…”

The New York Times (2009) “…This short, narrow, standing-room-only space with white tile walls, a broad pewter counter and an open kitchen is what Camdeborde calls an “hors d’oeuvres bar,” and it serves up an array of delicious small-plate Basque- and Béarnais-inspired nibbles…”

John Talbott (2009) “The entire Bayonne rugby team was celebrating; they were very drunk, very into jumping in unison on the fragile floor-boards, chanting/singing Basque fight songs, smoking and drinking much more…”

The Paris Notebook (2009) “Claustrophobics might want to abstain as it’s standing room only at the zinc bar laden with a communal bread basket, a tub of Bordier butter, white jars of pickles and peppers meant to be shared amongst your neighbors…”


L’Avant Comptoir in Video

Anthony Bourdain’s Paris episode for “The Layover.” The segment on L’Avant Comptoir begins around the 12:20 mark.

6 thoughts on “L’Avant Comptoir”

  1. Meg says:

    Hi Maria. I’m so sorry you left with a bad feeling about this place. However, 70 euros for six glasses and a few plates of food seems correct to me. Most glasses range from 6-10 euros, and most plates are around the same price. It seems to add up correctly to me.

  2. Maria O says:

    We were clearly ripped off last night. We had a few tapas and we paid 70€ for 6 glasses of wine. Be careful if you’re not French they take advantage of you!

  3. Maria says:

    Not impressed. Salad had so much vinegar it was inedible. Foie grass superb. Nothing else impressed. So overrated.,

  4. Julian Wasser says:

    Disappointing lunch. More PAris foutaise. Would last a month in New York. Cool Paris is pretentiou crap.
    jww

  5. Paulette Bradstreet says:

    In response to The Daily Bite: Uncomfortable at L’Avant Comptoir:

    L’Avant Comptoir, a convivial place. Disappointed to discover on two separate occasions staff using packages of prepared peppers, cooked turkey, cheese slices, and battery eggs (Carrefour). When questioned as to the use of prepared peppers, the somewhat defensive response was “with over 500 orders per day we don’t have time to prepare everything ourselves”. Using the lowest quality prepared products does not seem a worthy alternative particularly when promoting the notion all ingredients used are of the highest quality from the best regional producteurs.If this is happening where you can see it, what’s happening on the other side (Le Comptoir)?

  6. Ptipois says:

    In response to The Daily Bite: Uncomfortable at L’Avant Comptoir:

    It’s funny that Aaron should call the place a “total crapshoot”, this is what I wrote about it in the recent update of a Paris guide: “Vous vous faufilez avec un chausse-pied dans ce réduit blindé de monde, et c’est la plongée en apnée. Bien au-delà du coude-à-coude, c’est une méditation étourdissante sur la plasticité du corps humain (attention aux côtes enfoncées tout de même) et le pouvoir de la mode. Vous êtes sur le mètre carré le plus parisien de Paris…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *