"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A La Biche au Bois -- Restaurant review

45,avenue Ledru-Rollin,
75012 Paris, France
01 43 43 34 38
Metro: Gare de Lyon

Rating Standards: 4-Stars = Extraordinary; 3-Stars = Excellent; 2-Stars = Good; 1-Star = Fair; NO stars = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  3.75 - Stars.................................................................................................3 - Bells

A dear friend, Gina recommended this restaurant. She's been going for a couple of years, and has nothing but praises for it. So, a group of us decided to go. It's not too far from the Gare de Lyon which has the famous opulent  "Le Train Bleu"  restaurant and bar. So, if you have time, I suggest stopping there first for just a drink to enjoy the most incredible interior artwork on the ceilings and walls and then continue on to "A La Biche Au Bois".

The restaurant is quite small, but felt really comfortable and cozy. Reservations are a must since it appears to be a very popular restaurant with the tourists and the locals alike. The menu was quite extensive.

What surprised me most was the price. It was 26.90 euros for the pre-fix menu, which consisted of an entree, plat, a cheese plate, and then dessert. Great deals in Paris can be had, but typically the food is mediocre at best. This was the exception, as you will see from our assessment.

As you can see from the menu to the left, there was quite a nice selection of entrées to choose from. So we first perused the entrees before heading to the main course (plats).

Our wait-person told us that they had 2-specials tonight. Joue de Boeuf (beef cheeks) and the agneau, which are lamb chops.  So, we all ordered a variety of dishes from specials to "mains-stays":

Gina, ordered the Les Oeufs durs mayonnaise".  It was sort of like deviled eggs, but in place of the "deviled" part was a home-made rich mayonnaise.  It was very simple, and just very nice. Giving you an opportunity to truly taste the mayonnaise.  Jack doesn't particularly care for eggs nor mayonnaise, but the rest of us thought it was very good.

Jack and I started with the "entrée du jour", the entrée of the day. It was the Chef's special terrine. I must say it was really nice. It had a combination of different meats, fois gras covered in a puff pastry over a nice bed of greens. It also had bits of pistachios in it, which I adored.

Marie had the La terrine de lapin" a rabbit terrine. over a bed of greens and vegetables and said it was an excellent start.

For our plats or mains, Gina ordered her favorite mainstay, "coq au vin". It came in a hot pot with what looked like a whole rooster. Although it was for one person, you could've easily shared it.  We all had a taste, and agreed that it was delicious. On the other hand I thought it may have been a bit too "salty" for my liking. But Gina thought it was perfect. Net-net it was very good.

Jack and I had the "joue de boeuf" beef cheeks. It was really, really delicious, albeit very rich. Cheeks are probably one of my favorite meats overlooked in the carnivore world.  In my anxiousness to taste it, I forgot to take a picture of it. All I can say is, it was delicious, extremely tender, the sauce was very nice.  We had the mashed potatoes and fries accompanying our meals to absorb a lot of the richness.  If I could compare it to anything, I would probably compare it to beef tongue, for it's soft texture. I would definitely order this again!

Marie had the grilled lamb chops. She said they were really good. Not dry, not greasy, it was cooked well and quite tasty.

Susan had the "Le filet de boeuf poele au poivre", pepper steak. Susan enjoyed it a lot, since it was cooked perfectly and the sauce was a nice accompaniment.

Our meals followed with a cheese course. I was impressed at the variety of cheeses they had, from Chevre to Camemberts, Bries, Cantals etc.,  the selection was awesome. Feeling quite full and knowing later that our dinner also included dessert, most of us decided to go light on the cheese. Whoever their vendor is, I say they're a keeper.

Now the desserts came. Marie and Gina ordered the "Ile flottante" (poached meringue) with a creme caramel and creme anglaise. I'm not a fan of this dessert, because to me it feels like I'm eating air (e.g., cotton candy) with sauce. However, both of them adored this dessert for it's lightness counterbalanced with the rich sauces.

Jack had the special tarte au fruit" accompanied with some poached apples, vanilla ice cream, and chantilly (whipped cream) atop a cream anglaise.  Jack said this too was very good.

Susan and I shared a creme caramel. It was very light, but very tasteful, and a great ending to a fantastic meal.

All the desserts are made on the premises.

This restaurant has been around for a few years, and has certainly been written up a few times. It's owned and run by a husband and wife team Bertrand and Céline.  The staff aren't by any means extremely friendly by American standards, but they're extremely courteous and very, very efficient. I heard Bertrand is extremely funny and jovial and usually makes the rounds with the customers, but unfortunately for us he was not around that evening.

I'm one of the few people living in Paris that can find French food boring and tedious, but I have to say when the food is good, and the price is right I'd go often. The food is by no means light nor for vegetarians, nor even "Pescetarian", it's pretty heavy on the meat, but you get alot of it, so go hungry! And, although their wine list is small, it's sufficient. There really isn't much to complain about this restaurant, other than the Chef's slightly heavy hand with the salt. Would I go to this restaurant again, absolutely. Would I recommend it to friends, absolutely.

It's a WINNER! and at these prices you can't afford to miss it.


  1. Next on the list of places you guys have to try: Dans les Landes in the 5th. I say you make it an ethnic dinner club outing and invite me! :)

  2. Savez vous si il ont deux services le soir (19h30 et 21h)? Do you know if they have two services in th evening(19h30 , 21h)? Merci/Thanks

    1. I don't think they have "sittings" just call them and tell them what time you'd like to go...