Bites: A New Paris Bistro Equal Parts Convivial and Tasty
On a mild September evening, Les Arlots, a Parisian bistro that opened last March, served a pork and duck terrine, subtly seasoned with pistachios and apricots. Then came a roast lamb redolent with thyme and a chocolate tart, saltily sweet.
Each dish was excellent. But the bistro’s specialty is not something that comes on a plate. It’s a kind of conviviality that let this loud American, usually self-conscious about playing to stereotype in Paris, guffaw without shame that night.
Warmth brimmed from the 28-seat bistro, owned by Thomas Brachet, a chef, and Tristan Renoux, a sommelier, from the moment my two friends and I arrived.
We started the night on the sidewalk, with the reedy Mr. Renoux, in a long blue apron, serving us a crisp Provençal rosé. No rush to our seats, he told us and the other diners, also smoking, talking, laughing outside. By the night’s end, it was Mr. Brachet, who materialized from the kitchen, mustached, fatigued, ruddy, serving shots of an anise-flavored eau de vie.
After working as a chef in more formal Parisian restaurants, including the Beef Club and Maison Blanche, Mr. Branchet said he wanted to create a restaurant where his guests could feel at home.
“It’s a place that’s small, sincere, true, where we can take time to do what pleases us,” he told me later. “It’s a little selfish — me with my food, Tristan with his wines.”
After looking at some 50 spaces, Mr. Renoux, 31, and Mr. Brachet, 37, settled on this one, intimate, bright, on a quiet street near the still-gritty Gare du Nord, and enlisted their friends to help paint and refurbish it.
While some of the menu’s items are bistro classics — entrecôte, sole meunière — there are nods to Mr. Branchet’s adolescence in Corsica, like a traditional pork and vegetable soup his mother often makes. His house-made pork-shoulder sausages were simple, rustic and perfectly executed.
Mr. Renoux, who grew up around Paris, honors his family’s roots in the Loire Valley, with a wine list featuring an exceptional selection of minerally Chenin blancs. The combination of Mediterranean flavors and elegant wine, this, too, I hold responsible for our table’s boisterousness that night.
When I later offered a sheepish apology to Mr. Brachet for all the noise, he happily dismissed it. “When people talk loudly with laughter, we know that people are having a good time,” he said. “That reassures us.”
An earlier version of this article, in two instances, misspelled the surname of the chef of Les Argots. It is Brachet (as it is correctly spelled in the first two instances), not Branchet.
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