French Restaurant Review: Colvert, Paris

French Restaurant Review: Colvert, Paris

This excellent bistro in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a hugely welcome new address for both the locals and the many travellers who love this emblematic Left Bank neighbourhood of Paris and French food.

In fact, it is because of the popularity of this part of Paris with visitors that I made it a priority to visit on a hot, airless evening in July when I’ll admit my appetite was rather wilted.

Meeting friends from Cape Town for dinner, I was immediately charmed by this restaurant at the corner of two of the oldest streets in Paris, the Rue Saint-André-des-Arts and the Rue des Grands Augustins. The intimate dining room with bentwood chairs at wooden tables has buckets of Parisian charm with a zinc-topped bar, an Aubusson- style tapestry on one exposed stone wall and a beautiful vintage tiled floor. The welcome from the young staff was warm and friendly – one of the waiters was chatting in English with Alice and Peter, my South Africans friends, when I arrived.

“He’s desperate to get to Cape Town,” Alice told me, and then, lowering her voice, she said, “We told him we’d trade places with him if he liked. We’ve fallen in love with Paris.” Chef Arnaud Baptiste, who trained at Le Grand Véfour and the Hôtel Meurice under Yannick Alléno, brings a touch of haute-cuisine rigour and luxury to the contemporary bistro cooking he serves here. All of our starters were intriguing displays of his culinary creativity and outstanding eating for a warm evening, too: tomato tartlette with pesto and cherry gel, veal tartare with shiso leaves, trout eggs and pickled grains of mustard, and gravlax with raw and marinated cucumber, yogurt, dill and curry oil.

Baptiste was hired by Les Becs Parisiens, the restaurant group run by Emilie and Boris Bazan, who also own the nearby Le Christine, Grains, Les Fous de l’Île, on Île Saint-Louis, and Chocho, with a brief to cook suave contemporary French bistro in his own style. The Bazans surely knew what they were doing, since the pearly cod filet with a coulis of wild rocket, ricotta, granola and a reviving gelée of absinthe was one of the most intriguing dishes I’ve eaten in a long time. Peter Calvert loved his succulent guinea hen with Swiss chard, baby fava beans, haricots verts, black garlic and smoked piquillo peppers and Alice was delighted by her boned lamb shoulder with feta and mint and a lemon-pepper condiment. Don’t miss the smoked chocolate ganache with strudel, popcorn and piment d’Espelette if it’s on the menu when you come. A pleasant and fairly priced wine list and lashings of authentic Parisian atmosphere make this an excellent choice on the Left Bank.

Colvert Paris, 54 rue Saint-André des Arts, 6th arrondissement, Paris, Tel. (33) 01 42 03 73 67.

Average à la carte €60.

From France Today Magazine

Lead photo credit : ©Florian Domergue

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Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He was European Correspondent for Gourmet magazine from 1999 until its closing, and has written about food and travel for Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is the author of HUNGRY FOR PARIS, 2nd Edition (Random House, 4/2014), HUNGRY FOR FRANCE (Rizzoli, 4/2014), and MY PLACE AT THE TABLE, newly published in June 2021.

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