Generally 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.