Café Cartouche

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© BC / Time Out

A notorious historical character in France, the name of Cartouche the highwayman has long been used by chef Rodolphe Paquin at Le Repaire de Cartouche, his gourmet outfit in the 11th arrondissement. According to legend, the restaurant stands on the very site where the brigand secreted his loot.

Paquin, with his three partners Thierry Faucher, Thierry Breton and Yves Camdeborde, was one of the first restaurateurs in Paris to devote his formidable culinary pedigree to bistro cooking. And 11 years after founding the Repaire, he (and partner Benoît Djenidi) has relaxed even further, opening Café Cartouche, a salutary destination in the culinary desert that is Bercy. Nestling on the outskirts of the Cour Saint-Emilion, the café does everything to offer customers the warmest possible hospitality. The welcome is effusive, the patron charming and the wine list excellent, while the walls are papered with winemakers’ advertisements and chalkboard menus.

The menu – one of those the hybrid contemporary numbers known as ‘gastro-terroir’ (where ‘terroir’ is the French obsession with homely regional produce) or even ‘bistronomie’ ­– changes depending on what can be found in season at the Rungis market. For starters, there are things like onion gratiné (ours was a little disappointing) or a juicy dish of spicy fried squid. For mains, beef Stroganoff, bream fillet with sauce meunière, or roasted duckling with cabbage and grapes. It’s both refined and rustic, and will also fortify the simply greedy. Even better, you pay less than €20 at lunch, and between €20-30 in the evenings, not including wine.

Venue name: Café Cartouche
Address: 4 rue de Bercy

Opening hours: Du lundi au vendredi, de midi à 14h30 et de 19h à 23h. Le samedi, de 19h à 23h. Fermé dimanche
Transport: Métro : Bercy ou Cour Saint-Emilion
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