62, rue des Pyrénées
Metro Station: Maraîchers (Line 9)
Type of cuisine: French
Days & hours of operation: Open seven days a week Noon - 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Credit card: Visa
Le Boucl’art is a bistrot dressed in modern style. Located on the corner of rues des Pyrénées and d’Avron, its burgundy façade and white and dark-grey awnings make it an attractive feature of the neighborhood. The restaurant has two dining rooms, one in the front room that also serves as a lounge-bar, and one in the side room.
The waiter greeted us with a smile and invited us to choose which dining room we preferred. As the lounge-bar was rather noisy, we chose the side room. Here, the walls have coral wallpaper with geometric patterns; the floor is constructed of medium-tone wood planks; the tables of dark wood; and the cranberry-colored chairs and wall benches of faux-alligator vinyl. The overall atmosphere is that of handsome modernity. During our meal, reggae, funk, soul, and jazz played over the speaker system. As the restaurant filled with customers, the noise level of the room increased. (There are no carpets or draperies to absorb the sound.)
We each ordered a before-dinner cocktail. I chose a Cosmopolitan, consisting of lime and cranberry juice, vodka and triple sec; my partner selected a Mojito, consisting of rum, lime juice, sugar, and mint leaves. Our invigorating drinks were served in tall glasses with straws…and glowing swizzle sticks!
For the starter, I selected Verrine d’avocat et Gaspaccio de tomates et sa glace citron vert. This was a three-tiered affair: I was served a squat glass (verrine) whose bottom layer of thick gazpacho was topped with coarsely-cut avocado and crowned with a small scoop of lime ice cream. While I found the zesty tomato-avocado combination refreshing, the topping would have harmonized better if it had been lime sorbet, rather than ice cream. My partner opted for the Crottin de Chavignon sur pain de Campagne et son mélange de salades. She received two slices of warmed goat cheese served on toast, resting atop a salad of tomato, endive, and mixed greens. (Goat cheese on toast with salad is a standard offering in French bistrots.) She found it quite satisfactory.
Prior to taking our order, the waiter notified us that the kitchen was out of scallops for the Duo de St-Jacques & Gambas aux 2 saveurs (épices douces & ail, persil), riz. He said that extra prawns would be substituted in their place. I ordered this dish and received five giant, roasted prawns on a mixed-green salad and a mound of rice. The prawns were bathed in a mildly peppery sauce of paprika and curry. They were succulent, but I had to shell them by hand. The waiter thoughtfully provided a finger bowl for rinsing my sauce-covered fingers. The curry-flavored rice was appetizing, but slightly gummy (i.e., not fluffy). The texture, however, did not affect my enjoyment of the flavor.
My partner requested that green beans be substituted for pan-fried potatoes when she ordered the Noisette d’agneau au couteau crème d’ail, pommes sautées. She received a generous portion of sliced lamb, cooked medium rare on a brochette. On the side was a ramekin containing green beans topped with a small portion of sautéed onions in a creamy sauce. While she was happy with her main course, she asserted that the beans were slightly overcooked.
To accompany the meal, I ordered 25cl of Pouilly-Fumé, a dry, minerally white wine. My partner opted for 25cl of Saint-Estèphe – Château Marbuzet, a fruity, red Bordeaux with a hint of honey.
Thick-sliced, slightly warm baguette was served alongside in a basket.
For the dessert course, I placed an order for the Tiramisu Maison, and my partner for the Crumble de poires caramélisées à la cannelle, glace & pain d’épices. The house-made tiramisu was rich and creamy, with a top layer of mascarpone and a bottom layer coffee-imbibed lady finger. This would have been a perfect dessert if the lady fingers had been imbibed with coffee liqueur, rather than just coffee. It was, nonetheless, delectable. My partner was not quite so happy with her pear crumble, as the sugar in the crumble topping was burnt, not caramelized.
The waiter was friendly and attentive. At one point he moved a side table next to ours and placed a plate on it to receive the shells of the prawns.
The bill for two persons, including two cocktails, two 25 cl servings of wine, two three-course meals ordered à la carte, and one espresso, came to 91.50€.
This is a lively restaurant in an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood at which to meet friends for informal dining.
Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first traveled to France in 1975. A native of northern California, he moved to France permanently in 1992. Reeves’ love of French language and culture inspired him to create Discover Paris!, a travel planning service that caters to Americans interested in cultural travel to Paris. His book, Paris Insights – An Anthology, has been called “the kind of insider’s view of the French capital…that first or even second time visitors pine for.” He publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Paris Insights about history, culture, and contemporary life in the City of Light, and posts daily information about the French capital on Facebook.