This is a terrible location boasting fantastic food. The elegant sounding Bistro Paris sits right under a crappy old gym on Military Road, the chairs and tables are a job lot and the courtyard is a long way from a sweet leafy Parisian cobblestone square. The food, however, is great and far surpasses any decorative faux pas.
“Where does your bread come from?” we ask the waiter.
“Cool. How much is it?”
“$1.50 a serve.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. We’ll skip the bread.”
“Sure, that’s fine.” So when a serving of bread turns up, we sit in wonder then eat it, as we assume he’s just being kind. Even kinder when more butter comes when we run out.
Sweet, fat little scallops sit on a few scanty ribbons of pappardelle topped with fresh herbs and a veloute (a basic French sauce with a stock base thickened with flour and butter) – a perfectly balanced dish and while a rich, heady boudin noir (blood sausage) is paired nicely with pieces of fried apple and transparent slices of asparagus, the boudin noir is a little generous and overpowers the rest of the dish – half would be fine.
The food comes fast and the service is great – it’s got a real maman et papa feel as the owners gabble away in French to tables that can understand it and are very, very friendly. Lamb rump is pink, tender and beautifully presented with a little garden of ratatouille filled zucchini flowers wrapped in tongues of confitted eggplant and thin slivers of zucchini. Eye fillet is wrapped in pancetta with a slash of celeriac puree and wafer thin potato chips.
The waiter rattles off a list of desserts: “Blah blah blah de blah, rye ice cream…”
“That sounds pretty interesting but we’ve already got the desserts we want in mind.”
“Would you like to try a scoop?”
“Well, sure thing.”
Desserts like the peach tarte tartin (an upside down tart) with flakey, buttery pastry and a slab of cold, creamy rice pudding with a tangy passionfruit sorbet are a reminder that sweets aren’t always a mistake. But then the bill arrives.
They charge us for the bread (and butter) and ice cream we don’t remember ordering. It feels stingy when faced with so large a bill. And in a space like this, it isn’t cheap either. But the food’s great and in any other setting it’d be a knockout.