05 October 2010

nighthawks at the diner: the newly renovated verre volé, 75010

I have no hipster desire to say anything negative whatsoever about the newly-renovated incarnation of Le Verre Volé. I love the place, outsize popularity and all. My first meal there was the day after I arrived in Paris, and I remember feeling that the whole ethos of the restaurant - unfussy service of great wines, a market menu balanced between novelty and sausages, frank presentation of great things - validated my descision to move to France.

But it has to be said, if only for the sake of critical honesty*: the new wing feels sort of like a diner. The vibe is a little abbreviated. I'm hoping they'll immediately begin to festoon it with all the wine clutter that makes the main dining area so charming.

(Then, a related issue: the new room complicates wine service. This may or may not have been the idea. After all, the more a server can discuss wine selections with you, the more opportunity he or she has to sell you something more ambitious. But if a screamingly busy restaurant like Le Verre Volé has no official wine list, and if the bottles on the walls are mostly empty and bear little or no relation to actual stock, and if furthermore half the guests are seated in a side area where no bottles are visible without resorting to a tedious obtrusive ramble through the crowded front dining room, then I'm sorry but the dream of loquacious upselling has to go out the fenêtre.)

The unadulterated good news is: the kitchen still rocks.

And even after more than a year of dining around Paris, the menu at Le Verre Volé still feels winningly under-priced.

I'm always particularly charmed by anything shell-fish related here. On this particular occasion I had an app of filet de rouget dans une sauce aux étrilles, which, while somewhat under-salted, gave me great pleasure simply for proving once and for all that étrilles - these wispy little mini-crabs you catch with great delight at some beaches here - always kind of taste like seaweed. I'd thought it was just the way I was cooking them.

We had a bright, sappy, 100% Grolleau Vin de Table called "La Coulée" by Benoit Courault, a young Anjou vigneron who's into the no-sulfite thing. In the past, I'd been underwhelmed by the 2008 of his Chenin Vin de Table "Gilbourg," which I'd had elsewhere, and which had seemed a textbook argument FOR using sulfites (the bottle I had was oxidized). But I'm always curious about strange varietal wines, and there just aren't a great deal of 100% Grolleau bottlings on the market. In the end it made for a terrific substitute for my customlary cru Beaujolais.* The Grolleau's high-toned fresh berry component made for a perfect match with Le Verre Volé's newly added confit de canard, which dish is, presumably, one of the key pay-off's of the newly enlarged kitchen. (Sorry, no pic.)

I say: whatever, guys, if the duck's this good then shoot for the stars.

*So as to not be one of these fawning local food blogs that just says nice things about everything.

**The excellent Loic at Verre Volé regretted to inform me they had no cru Beaujolais in stock that evening for less than 32eu, or 25eu à emporter. Which is sort of a joke; I can't walk into any half-decent cave here without knocking over a case of decent cru Beaujolais for well under 20eu. That said, the Grolleau was great. And it's sort of understandable that when a restaurant has done enough to popularize a wine region among its clientele - as le VV has probably done with cru Beaujolais - the restaurant might then wish to let client demand dictate the price range of this wine type, simply to provide incentive for guests to try other things. Like Grolleau.

Le Verre Volé
67, rue Lancry
75010 PARIS
Metro: Jacques Bonsergeant or Republique
Tel: 01 48 03 17 34

Related Links:

Barbra Austin on Le Verre Volé's new renovation (better pics here)
Le Fooding on Le Verre Volé
David Lebovitz on Le Verre Volé
Monocle on Le Verre Volé
An old profile of Le Verre Volé at WineTerroirs
Meg Zimbeck on Le Verre Volé


  1. Food may be good - but the staff or owner apparently has an attitude
    problem and a love/hate relation to potential clients.
    I could not make a reservation there as I did not have a cell-phone!
    I was there in person and offered other solutions as my email to
    confirm the reservation two days later and I offered to write them and asked for their email - was told they do not have one...
    A bending or the truth... not say untrue! http://www.leverrevole.fr/
    End of it: No table!
    In retrospect I think it maybe was a blessing.
    I am not even American :) and I do not expect 3 star service but to refuse a reservation - made in person is un-professional and I wonder how they can run a business with this attitude.
    This is the first time I encounter such an arrogant attitude in
    France in my 40+ years of travelling there.

  2. hi anonymous,

    i can assure you you're not alone. i know the owner and most of the staff, and i myself continually have pretty doddering idiotic customer service interactions at VV. sadly, i've become rather accustomed to this in france / particularly paris. if it's any consolation, think of the the enormous world-conquering success a place as charming as VV might have had, had the ownership possessed the barest rudimentary inkling of customer service. there would be one in every arrondissement. instead, in over ten years since opening, they've opened a wine shop and a sandwich shop, not exactly gangbusters businesses.

    in my experience, v few places in paris get the reservation thing quite right. even more annoying is when places demand that you, the customer, call the restaurant once again on the day of the reservation, to confirm. how many phone calls should it take to get a table ? one. if the restaurant really has a business-threatening problem with no shows, they ought to rethink their seating policy and reserve tables for walk-ins, to increase flexibility.