Tucked away in a little corner of the 17th arrondissement where expats and locals meet over beer and cheese plates, you will find a hidden gem of a restaurant that hosts a mixed crowd – from young to old and every which way in between – and an even better array of food. It was here that I retreated during a bad day and helped myself to a delicious salad with a huge round of honey-roasted goat cheese placed on top like a crown, and it was here that I took my two friends visiting from Nantes to enjoy some afternoon wine and local fare. Sunday night, after our disappointing excursion to the Tokyo palace, Shaun and I decided to skip cooking dinner (our usual lazy-night activity) and go out instead. We headed to Le Bouchon des Batignolles (17, Rue des Dames, 75017; metro – Place de Clichy), where for 20 Euro we had one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed.
Le Bouchon des Batignolles (literally, “The Cork of Batignolles”) is a tiny restaurant on the corner of Rue des Dames, frequented by locals and moderately priced. The atmosphere is fun and whimsical, slightly hipster, and very laid back. The lunch menu is presented on a large chalkboard that is placed in front of you for about 10 minutes while you decide, and the dinner menu is presented inside old records – not just the covers, actual old records. The check is brought over with a little glass of Haribo candies, and the drink choices are just as fun and flirty as the atmosphere itself. The colorful touches are complemented perfectly by dark wood furniture and dim lighting, and there is a perfect balance between serious restaurant and whimsical eatery. This is a must for lunch, when it serves a more traditional menu, and you can relax and enjoy the news that plays constantly on a big TV over the bar.
The food itself is amazing. Shaun and I began with a caraf of Bordeaux wine, my favorite red, and their complementary biscuits with mustard and olive paste that are the perfect introduction to dinner. The dinner menu consists of several different tapas ranging between about 3 Euro and 7 Euro, but the tapas are not your average Spanish plates: my French food vocabulary at this point is pretty well rounded, and yet I still didn’t understand half of the menu. We ordered escargots de Bourgogne, one of my favorite dishes, as well as goat cheese roasted with thyme and served with fig spread. The two dishes were out of this world – perfect, perfect, and more perfect. This was followed by fondue de camembert, in which we dipped perfectly fried potatoes. We loved the fondue so much we had to order a second round of fries just to finish off the melted, cheesy goodness. I was surprised by the fondue: I was under the impression that fondue was generally done with raclette, but I was pleasantly surprised by this take on it. Delicious!
Dessert was a must. We decided to go all out and get chocolate fondue, served with seasonal fruits and marshmallows. Need I even mention how amazing it was? I left with a food baby that looked at least 6 months along, but feeling wonderful. I have learned, being in a land that prides itself on food and wine, that nothing can make you feel better than a good meal with good friends.
Le Bouchon des Batignolles doesn’t have a website, but if you are interested in checking it out here are some good sources: