The last few years have seen a number of snug little bistros sprout up across the 10th arrondissement's Grange aux Belles quarter. The latest pretender, Chez Marie Louise, proffers the same warm, unpretentious vibe that so endeared us to its neighbours Ten Belles and La Madonnina; but it also supplies something that few venues in the area can boast: calm. A skip and a hop from the teeming crowds of the canal, it might as well be in a different solar system.
Once seated – no queueing necessary – you're presented with the kind of authentic Gallic cuisine that the characters in your A-Level French textbook used to eat. Starters (around €9) are of the order of artichoke salads and garlic mushrooms; for mains, you can choose between scallop ravioli (€21), duck filet with cherry brandy sauce (€19), an exquisitely tender filet of (British) beef with mushrooms (€24) or a number of other classic meat dishes. All of which would be somewhat lacking without a bottle of red to wash it down; thankfully the wine menu obliges, with a range of 45-odd bottles that run the gamut from affordable to wallet-busting.
The air of picture-postcard authenticity extends to the quintessential bistro decor, all chequered tablecloths and wood pannelling. If the sun's out, you can claim one of the tables on the pavement out front, or repair to the cute terrace for coffee. It's only when you notice that half of your fellow diners are Nikon-wielding tourists that the illusion begins to shatter.
|Venue name:||Chez Marie Louise|
11 rue Marie et Louise
|Opening hours:||Mon–Fri noon–2.30pm, 7.30–10.30pm|
|Transport:||Métro : Jacques Bonsergent ou Goncourt|