There's a brand new wine-bar/restaurant in town, and we've got a feeling it's going to be a great success. Serving small plates to share and with an excellent wine list, Au Passage is very much in the same vein as two other success stories that have opened over the last couple of years in Paris, Aux Deux Amis and Le Dauphin. Down a quiet passage way off the Rue Amelot in the 11th is this former workman's bistro, taken over by a group of French friends who also own a couple of other restaurants around town (the Peres Populaires in the 20th and the Caves Populaires in the 17th). Being run by two wine and food aficionados from the group, who are self-confessed fans of Le Chateaubriand's Inaki Aizpitarte, this latest venture looks set to be their most fruitful yet. The setting retains a shabby-chic charm - "populaire" has been the team's keyword until now, afterall - with the original zinc bar and floor remaining intact, and the local workmen from the nearby Renault garage still patronising the place (only now they rub shoulders with bobo foodies, too). The decor is shabby-chic, with atelier-style windows, battered old leather club chairs, simple tables and chairs and retro 60s lights. Old meets new at the exterior of the restaurant too, with murals by French street artist Mass Toc adorning the original mosaic front. The evening menu of small plates features simple options with a focus on the quality of individual ingredients, such as anchovies with piment d'espellette, burrata and home-made rillettes. Slightly more innovative offerings which show off the skills of the chef include trout with exotic cucumber, and courgettes with ricotta. Diners are recommended to choose three plates per person (which generally range from €4-€9) and to get stuck in and share amongst themselves. The very amiable staff are happy, nay positively thrilled, to advise on wine by the glass or bottle from the judiciously chosen list featuring natural wines from independent and small producers. We tried the very reasonably fixed-price lunch menu, which comes in at €9 for just the main, €13 for two courses or €16.50 for all three. The no-choice starter of the day, tuna confit served with tomatoes, capers and red onion, was a light, refreshing option for a hot summer afternoon. There is a choice of two dishes for the main course, which change daily depending on the season, the market and the inspiration of the chef. On our visit, a fillet of whiting cooked a la plancha and veal were on the menu, both served with a selection of cool, summer courgettes. Pudding was iced grapefruit served with fromage frais. Au Passage is a laid-back and friendly place with honest, good, seasonal food and a superlative wine list, in a charming setting - and all this for a very reasonable price. Like we said, we have a feeling that this place might just be a big success...
|Au Passage1 bis, passage Saint Sebastien, Paris 75011+33 1 43 55 07 52 Au Passage Facebook Page|
Open: Lunch Mon-Fri, Dinner Tues-Sat.
All photos copyright Kim Laidlaw