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. 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.
Chez la Vieille occupies an unassuming corner at the intersection of two quiet streets, Bailleul and l’Arbre Sec, between the Louvre and what’s left of Les Halles. It was opened by the formidable Adrienne Biasin back in 1960 and catered – like most restaurants in this neighborhood – to a clientele of workers from the nearby Les Halles market. When the towering iron and glass pavillions were torn down in 1971 and the market was transferred to the sanitary suburb of Rungis, the “old lady’s” place remained as a comfort for locals who were (and still are) mourning the loss of “the belly of Paris.”