I work in the 1er arrondissement. It's a short commute for me, and a great place to work, particularly if you enjoy watching tourists in cargo shorts film, actually film, the jewelry in the Chanel window displays. (I for one cannot get over this. Do they expect the jewelry to wave?) For lunch, however, options are slim. You have a lot of places selling over-conceptualized, instant-pasta-in-a-box-type concepts, ideal for people who would prefer to dispense with meals entirely and just take futuristic pills. You also have a lot of decent Japanese restaurants nearby on the rue Saint Anne; I don't mention them much, because they serve no potable wine to speak of, and because I moved here from LA, where the Japanese food is immeasurably better, so I'm kind of unmoved by the neutered undersalted Frenchy version. This leaves the native cuisine, and it's really a testament to the greatness of this country that, even in a tourist-infested business district, there are places I can recommend wholeheartedly. Two, in fact. One is: Le Rubis. (The other I'll post later.)
Calling Le Rubis a bistro would be sort of overstating things. It's more just a timeless unambitious wine bar that serves rustic sausages and a few small plates. The menu has not, to anyone's recollection, ever changed. It's an institution. For the longest time, I'd only ever go for cheese plates and splashes of wine after work, primarily because they don't accept my company-sponsored restaurant tickets. (I know. I have to be frugal somewhere.) Yesterday curiosity got the best of thrift, though, and I had lunch there with some colleagues. I won't go into a blow-by-blow, since the place has already been covered like a Christo in most blogs and journals. Just a few observations:
Buckets of anonymous wine without specified vintage!
This is something that often bugs me no end - particularly in contemporary restaurants pushing a wine theme. Here I love it. The statistical geek part of me just shrugs and accepts it as a style of service that predates contemporary journalism and wine marketing. I asked from whom they get their Beaujolais and our server, a genial old lady, had no idea. Also, there are
8 of the 10 Beaujolais crus disponible!
This is what I find so beautifully paradoxical about old-school no-nonsense wine service. Despite the unfussiness of the presentation, a wine list like this indicates the proprietors (rightly) draw a distinction between, say, Brouilly and Chènas - a distinction so fine as to be lost on many in the wine industry, let alone your average drinker who's just shuffled in laden with shopping from rue Faubourg-St. Honoré.
Pats of butter on things!
That ain't margarine. The place is truly, gloriously from another time.
10, rue du Marché Saint-Honoré
Tel: 01 42 61 03 34