While Paris is thronged with restaurants serving excellent three-plus-course meals, finding a laidback venue for a snack or drink at random times of the day can be problematic. But a few minutes’ walk from the Palais Royal, on the corner of Rue des Petits Champs and Rue Vivienne, Dépôt Légal fills that gap.
An all-day café, bar and restaurant, its cultural credentials couldn’t be more impressive. Its verdigris-painted façade is historically protected and the building itself, which was once where rare books were legally registered before being transferred to the Bibliothèque nationale de France just across the street, belongs to the Institut national de l’histoire de l’art.
Its owner is pastry chef Christophe Adam, who learned his trade at the likes of Hôtel de Crillon and Fauchon and is the man behind L'Éclair de Génie cake shops. On my recent visit I sat on a cloudy-blue velvet banquette against an exposed stone wall at the back of the restaurant, and began with a life-restoring house-roast double espresso (€2.50), accompanied by a croissant roulé (€2.50). My partner took the Kodama organic green tea (€4) with a tartine (€5), Maison Bordier butter and homemade apricot jam.
Next came fresh grapefruit and apple juices (€4) and a poke bowl (€17) each – a refreshing savoury bowl of sticky rice mixed with fresh tuna, mango, avocado, and a ginger and coriander vinaigrette before, for me, a delicious avocado hummus toast (€5) with diced pineapple, black sesame and fennel seeds and chopped ghoa cress, and for my companion Dépôt Légal’s signature Croque Vivienne (€12), a truffle-infused cream cheese, Beaufort and ham toastie.
Presentation is quirky, with enamel mess tins, half-opened cans and “newsprint” wrappers, and given Adam’s CV, it's advisable to leave room for dessert (from €6), all French classics with a contemporary twist. I didn't, so my chocolate éclair (the chocolate is Macaé, a Brazilian Grand Cru 62 per cent cacao, with chocolate chips in the ganache) was wrapped up to go. The chocolate mousse, rum baba, millefeuilles and ile flottante provide more than adequate reason to return, as will the Gin Gin Mules and Whisky Sours that make Dépôt Légal perfect for after-work or pre-theatre cocktails (from €8). Take note too of the house specialty of Houu C'est Bon, (rum, apple juice, pineapple juice and fresh basil), which goes down remarkably well with tapas (from €4) of Bellota Bellota charcuterie or sardines, cheeses or Kaviari caviar, and of the tiny épicerie corner selling homemade granola (€6.50 for 300g), virgin olive oil (€9.50 a bottle), caramel biscuits (€5.90 a box), chocolate (€4.50 a bar) and organic teas (€12 for 100g), all signed “Christophe Adam - Made with Love”.