For top quality meat with fantastic French sauces, reserve a table at Le Repare du Cartouche. The restaurant is made up of two rooms, one giving onto the Boulevard Filles du Calvaire and the other onto the Rue Amelot, which is filled with wood carvers' studios – Cartouche’s careful, traditional cooking fits right in, as do their walls hung with rifles and paintings of the famous French brigand Cartouche, who was supposed to have taken refuge in the building after deserting the army in 1713.
Chef Rodolphe Paquin cooks the best products available in the pure French tradition, with the patience of a lacemaker. The house speciality is meat and game, stars of the menu during hunting season; it’s always reserving an early table, as supplies can run low as the evening wears on. To start with, the coddled egg with black trumpet mushrooms is perfect, much like the chef’s famous pâté en croute, whose ingredients vary with the seasons. Few restaurants in Paris offer hare à la royale stuffed with foie gras, a slow-cooked wild boar stew with red wine or a venison entrecote with grapes, figs and chestnuts. For dessert, if you can fit it in, allow yourself to be tempted by the nougatine crunch with clementines.
The huge wine list is designed to match the cooking – distinguished and very dear. The cheapest bottles are €25, no cheap plonk but vintages chosen according to the expert palate of the patron. Everything is right about this restaurant – the flavours, the original, high quality dishes – but at these prices, the service leaves a lot to be desired. The patron’s friends might be warmly welcomed, but the average client might get stuck with a characteristically grumpy French waiter – at €150 for two (and no digestif!) this is one tradition we could do without.
This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.