Chez La Vieille still carries the name of chez Adrienne, after the female chef who ran it with military precision in the eighties. Celebrities used to come for casual, classic French bistro dining but after Japanese chef Ichiei Taguma left, the American Daniel Rose (head chef at Spring and Bourse et la Vie), took the reins to pay homage to Adrienne’s classic Gallic cooking.
You can sit without a reservation or just to have a drink at the downstairs counter-bar, or at one of the twenty tables in the cosy bourgeois room upstairs. The menu is the same for dinner and lunch; whelks with soft and creamy homemade mayo (€9), a duck terrine with a lovely balance of horseradish and beetroot (€11) and the shining star: blanquette de veau (€20) served in it’s own Staub casserole dish with carrots and mushrooms. The sauce was so good we couldn’t bear to leave a single drop. Then to finish, a beautifully buttery pear clafoutis.
There is a real authenticity in Rose's approach, both in the menu and the atmosphere of the place. At lunch, our neighbour makes us try his Alsace white wine, while his wife slips us a few scandalous tales and the waiter raises a toast with us. At midnight that evening, the same gang are drinking, laughing and clinking glasses. It seems too laidback, too lively for the 1st arrondissement, which isn’t exactly known for it’s bon vivant vibe. Here, the golden years are alive and well, you can be sure of it.
TRANSLATION: MEGAN CARNEGIE