February 17 2013
speaking, Parisian restaurants fall into one of two categories: multi-starred
and legendary or tourist-focused horrors. So when a Parisian friend – a native
– recommended that I try La Maison, I accepted her suggestion with optimism.
It proved to be
well founded. Located in the 17th arrondissement, La Maison is
about to celebrate its fifth year of business. The owners, Thomas Le
François and his friend and business partner Christelle Boutié, run it with a simple
ethos: to produce the same sort of food – traditional, home-cooked and honest –
they had experienced with their respective grandmothers. Although both have worked in restaurants, neither does the cooking – that is left in the capable
hands of executive chef Yvan Sternat, who hails from Normandy and has a
lifelong love of butter. So if it is calorie-restricted or cholesterol-reducing
dishes that you seek, look away now.
What I wanted was
proper French steak – as meltingly rare as possible. I was not disappointed.
Both my guest and I opted for fillet steak (€23), which came with a choice of
sauces. As we couldn’t make up our minds, we shared two: the sauce au
poivre and the sauce au Roquefort. The first was superb,
but the second was taste-bud heaven. We washed them down with Crozes-Hermitage wine
(€7 a glass) – very more-ish – and shortened our life expectancy further
with the most magnificent brioche façon pain perdu,
accompanied by salted caramel butter and Bertillon vanilla ice cream (€8.90).
Writing this now makes me long for it all over again.
The restaurant ticks every box in terms of comfort, atmosphere and excellent service
by traditionally attired white-aproned waiters. Le François says he and Boutié are
trying to “create a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere where people feel at home” – and, in my experience, they certainly have. (For the record, his own recommendations
from the menu would be the veal stew or the whole kidney – the latter being
rarely found in Paris today.) There are no set menus – or, thank heaven, tourist
ones – but the extensive à la carte options mean you should be
able to eat very well for about €30 to €35 per person.
The duo are soon to take on another restaurant (in the 16th arrondissement this time) called Le Beaujolais d’Auteuil, which will embrace the same ethos and atmosphere as La Maison. You heard it here first.