Last night I went to L’Office, a very good new bistro in the ninth arrondissement, near the Grands Boulevards. This is a very simple place – no tablecloths or place mats, and you keep your cutlery throughout – that serves unpretentious but very well made food in a pleasant atmosphere. It received three red cocottes from Le Petit Lebey, the guide to Parisian bistros, which signifies one of the best in Paris. It recently won the 2012 Prix Lillet-Lebey de la Nouveauté.
The 33-euro menu includes choices among three appetizers, mains and desserts. I started with a wonderfully crispy cube of pork belly over a bed of spinach with nearly invisible fragments of girolle mushrooms. I followed this with chicken – crisped, perfectly cooked supreme and thigh pieces over caponata (never my favorite) with sprigs of mâche and a moelleux of chocolate with stewed cherries. The food was excellent and portion sizes appropriately small. The dessert was the least successful offering, with the preparation adding little to the wonderful cherries that are among the glories of France in June.
The place was full of Americans but somehow managed to keep its Frenchness. I was told by the owner chef that he has had some good write-ups in the US, including one in Bon Appétit (which I missed) that is surely the main reason for the American crowd. Also, it is the type of place we would like to have in the US, but don't. In any event, by about 9:30, the crowd began to change and French became the prevailing language.
A charming meal in a charming place out of central [location] casting.
L’Office, 3 rue Richer, 75009 Paris (Métro Bonnes Nouvelles).