The slightly battered back streets of the 12th arrondissement don’t immediately suggest a good quality bistro specialising in seasonal, local produce. But l’Ebauchoir (it means ‘the chisel’, presumably a nod to its authentically agrarian connections) is a valuable find, with its roots firmly in the terroir,or origins, of its locally-sourced ingredients.
Genuinely friendly waiters welcome you into a long room that’s all elegant floor tiles and dark wood tables, with a bustling bar twinkling in golden lamp-light beneath jolly hand-painted murals of people having a good old knees-up. In summer, be aware that if you reserve a table on the terrasse, you’ll find yourself rather on the grottily atmospheric trottoir outside, as mopeds zoom back and forth in front of the neighbouring Latin dance clubs and the restaurant staff zip between their tables and the wine bar over the road. But this is all part of the fun.
The seasonal menu is short and sweet (the wine list rather longer, but with a good price range and a ‘bottle of the month’ for the indecisive). Summer starters brought a perfectly poached egg on a bed of fresh peas with a truffle coulis, and pan-fried duck foie gras offset by a sweet surprise of apricot and lavender sauce – which might sound like a potpourri-flavoured disaster, but was a slightly tart, fruity complement to the crisped, creamy liver. These were followed by rose-pink slices of roasted lamb slicked with rocket pesto and walnuts, and soft rounds of griddled beef with peppers, fresh capers and cherry tomatoes. Intelligent spins on classic dishes, competently executed.
Dessert brought a small trough of rice pudding, bland and far too vast for two to finish, as if the kitchen had given up and reached for grandma’s staples in the hope of blotting out protest with a carb coma. But this was just one off note – l’Ebauchoir is a delightful outpost of clever country cooking south of the Bastille.
43-45 rue de Citeaux
|Opening hours:||Du mardi au samedi, de midi à 14h30 et de 20h à 23h. Le lundi, de 20h à 23h. Fermé le dimanche|
|Transport:||Métro : Bastille, Ledru-Rollin ou Faidherbe - Chaligny|