Saint Pourçain is a wine from the Auvergne region of France. I know nothing about the wine, except it is very drinkable! What I do know is that in the 19th century Auvergnats started migrating to Paris and turned restaurants and cafés into a regional export. Today more of Auvergnat live in Paris than in Auvergne and they consider themselves more Parisian than Parisians.
A large, bear-like of an Auvergnat opened a teeny tiny restaurant behind Saint Sulpice. He ruled over the dining room in waves of good humour and grumpitude, filling the space with his singular personality. He did well. Very well. Neighbors loved his simple, home cooked country food. Fashionistas felt oh-so-chic digging into his cassoulet during fashion week. Actors would reserve the entire 24 dining room seats for quiet celebrations after Cannes. The floor was a mosaic of tiles, the furniture more function than form. It was a neighborhood joint: no fuss, no muss, attitudes checked resolutely at the door.
Running a restaurant is hard work and eventually, our hero was ready for retirement. So he left. And the neighbors were very sad to see him go. They’d stop in front of the windows, peering mast the white wash and wishing for other. After several years things started to change. There was activity. People were coming and going, doors opened, lights turned on.
It was an exciting time that got even more exciting when I started discussing the activity wi
th a favorite waiter at the Café de Flore. “My” waiter was in on the secret. The owner from Racines (a fantastic restaurant Rive Droite) had purchased the space, was headed Rive Gauche and had invited the “my” waiter to be run the show.
We could not wait. There were virtual rivers flowing by as the neighborhood drooled in anticipation. And then the big day came and the doors were open. We went on night 2, when they still had some major choreography to work out. The space is miniscule with an open kitchen in the dining room and a second food prep area out the door, around a corner and in a corridor. But the rest was perfect. The food was fresh and local. Raw asparagus ribbons curled around creamy fresh goat cheese, transparent blushes of radish alternated fresh crispy with pickled tang over bonita.
The room was full of neighbors cheering on the team; a man yelling out his congratulations to the chef for crispy skinned volaille, a elderly couple announcing their joy at coming back to a favorite old address, a local family with their two teens and chien in tow.
“My” waiter swooped and dove, the fantastic, female sommelier twirled and spun her magic, suggesting a coupe of champagne to break the cream richness of the veal kidney sauce, the chef blended and whirled. The food was not the traditional fare once served within the bare stone walls; it was light, modern and fresh and delicious, turning skeptics into believers by the forkful.
Le Bon Saint Pourçain does not have a website just yet. If you’d like to try it before the news gets out, give them a call and enjoy!
10 bis, rue Servandoni, 6ème +33 (0)1 42 01 78 24