The area around the Marché d’Aligre hosts well-heeled young families, well-to-do professionals and the restaurants they like to eat in. Perhaps the proximity to the market also plays a part, encouraging restaurants (like Table) that source the produce for their menus on a daily basis. The result, anyway, is a concentration of understated bistros serving notably good food, of which Le Chardenoux is a sterling example (it has a sister venue, Le Chardenoux-des-Prés, in Saint-Germain). A stone’s throw from Bertrand Auboyneau’s triptych of venues (Bistro Paul Bert, L’Ecailler du Bistrot and Le 6 Paul Bert), it’s in very good company.
Behind the unremarkable frontage with its red canvas awning is a small L-shaped dining room – all dark wooden fittings, frosted glass, cream plaster mouldings, aged mirrors and a ceiling painted with a blue sky strewn with fluffy white clouds. The service is a long way from warm, but the food delivers across the board, with some standout dishes. Among the starters, we swooned for the ravioli with duck foie gras under a creamy red onion foam, and very much liked the pile of shredded crab with a firm potato salad. As so often in French bistros, the simpler, lighter options – here an excellent dorado carpaccio – seem rather flat, but only in comparison to the unabashed richness of the rest.
At mains, the undisputed winner was the beef entrecôte – with an almost sweet, nutty flavour and a foaming pot of Béarnaise, while the veal fricassee with button mushrooms, bacon and a white wine sauce came a close second, an exemplary example of this popular bistro dish. Again, in comparison, the cod with petits pois didn’t stand out, but made do for anyone watching their weight. Classic desserts – pain perdu, tarte aux framboises, chocolate fondant – were intense, finely handmade versions full of clear strong flavours. We left happily sated, with a manageable bill, and a renewed commitment to the neighbourhood.
|Venue name:||Le Chardenoux|
Rue Jules Vallès, 11e
|Opening hours:||Daily 12noon-12.30pm; 7pm-11pm|