On a sunny September evening in 2014, La Jeune Rue – Cédric Naudron’s half-hyped, half-derided project to buy up and renovate some 36 properties along three streets in the third arrondissement – has at first glance a slightly wistful air of neglect. The Rue du Vertbois and Rue Volta feel secluded from their buzzier Marais neighbours – calm grey Parisian scenes populated by occasional quietly strolling couples, the shop fronts elegantly battered, firmly shuttered relics. But look closer, and the signs of change are there – you can peer through smudged glass to freshly renovated spaces beyond, find a pocket of activity around a hip-looking gallery, or spy some tired-but-trendy business types having a late meeting over architectural drawings. It might be behind schedule, but La Jeune Rue, slowly but surely, is taking shape.
Tonight we’re visiting Anahi, the first restaurant to open under the project’s banner. Set in a renovated butcher’s shop, the Argentinean outfit predates La Jeune Rue, but has been renovated and re-opened under new management (no great loss, by all accounts). A distinguished-looking black-and-white corner site with no obvious signage, it’s the windows full of guttering candles and the come-hither scent of meat over charcoal that draws you in. Inside, a glorious art nouveau ceiling overlooks the front room, leading through to a rear dining room of burnished golden walls and striking lamplight. Tables are small and close together, linen is white and crisp, crockery is mismatched blue and white. It’s all very easy on the eye.
In their first week open, staff were a shade awkward around the edges but charming with it, gracefully overcoming hiccups with the computers. The drinks list doesn’t shock with its prices, and the cocktails are inventive (we liked a pleasantly sour and strange version of a Margarita), and the menu (in French and perfect English) is admirably concise, with plenty to interest. We had a casual cod ceviche, spanking fresh and tossed through with whole coriander leaves, and a plate of crunchy, moreish empanadas with a perfectly cooked filling where all the flavours – ground beef, onion, olive, egg – sang out clearly. Then two skewers of creamy, chunky meatballs with a roasted corn cob and potatoes, and a brilliant piece of boneless, beautiful rabbit with a bright green salad. A shared dessert of cold rice pudding – fat grains, ambrosial cream – was topped with warm roasted figs, a really superb dessert.
Really the only complaint was that we were seated right next to the circular bar in the front room, which is the one table to avoid at all costs – waiters crash around you to get to menus or the till, and the barman’s cocktail shakers intermittently drown out conversation. Other than that, the first opening of La Jeune Rue has the class and panache of a much more mature operation. Welcome.
49 rue Volta
|Opening hours:||Daily 7pm-12mid|
|Do you own this business?|