11 April 2014

worlds collide: les trois 8, 75020

One day I'm going to walk into Le Meurice and stand for an hour on one foot. Then I'll bow and the press will take photos and I'll go down in history, because that is how easy it is, in a restaurant in Paris, to do something no one has ever done before.

Take, for example, the recently revamped Menilmontant hideaway Les Trois 8. It's primary innovation - which, all irony aside, deserves huge applause - is to offer, alongside its focus on excellent craft beers on draft, a modest list of solid natural wines.

So what if covering both these bases in de rigeur for every dive bar from Green Point to Red Hook ? In Paris, worlds are colliding. At Les Trois 8, the gnomish subculture of French micro-brewing is emerging into the light of a versatile night out, and encountering such strange, fantastical creatures as celiacs, women, and wine geeks.

If two years ago the opening of nearby beer bar La Fine Mousse heralded Paris' nascent beer renaissance, Les Trois 8 is a sign it's maturing. The bar is a matter-of-fact hole-in-the-wall on a sidestreet run by and for enthusiasts. Co-owner Julien Tisserand serves natural wine in the same spirit he serves craft beer: because he cares about product.

I haven't yet tried Les Trois 8's cheese or charcuterie boards, but people I trust have spoken highly of them.

It was my friend N of the Tasting Nitch blog who first showed me the bar. She herself is a something of a odd bird: a dedicated homebrewer and beer geek with quixotic plans to popularize homebrewing in France.

That night we happened to be with my gay celiac novelist friend Y, to whom Tisserand promptly proposed a lean, piney gluten-free beer by the bottle.

We also polished off a bottle of my friend Philippe Delmée's 2012 Chenin pet' nat' "Turbulence." Delmée is a retired maths professor with an amusing tendency to choose brutally honest, self-deprecating names for his cuvées: for instance, a red that due to underripeness never exceeds 11° alcohol is titled "Ca Fait Onze." In the case of "Turbulence," the title could well refer to the rocky inconsistency of the wine, which at worst can be a bit lumpen, and at best, as on that night at Les Trois 8, is a scrumptious silvery wonder and a fine value for money.

Philippe Delmée (right) at dinner this past January.

Les Trois 8 is also notable for being the first bar to serve my friends Thomas Deck and Mike Donahue's crisp, newborn Mission Pale Ale on draft. Deck & Donahue, a Franco-American alliance who met studying at Georgetown, have recently begun production of a range of superb beers from their brewery in Montreuil.

Deck, the French half, is an Alsace native who fell for microbrews in America. Donahue, the American half, hails from my hometown of Philadelphia and has brewing experience at Flying Dog and 21st Amendment.

Mike Donahue (right)

Their Mission Pale Ale shows solid malt structure, a keen persistence arriving at a stern clean finish, and shimmery elderflower complexity.

Thomas Deck

You can taste it at Les Trois 8. Or you can drink wine. Really, it's all up to you. Can you believe it ?

Les Trois 8
11 Rue Victor Letalle
75020 PARIS
Tel: 01 40 33 47 70

Related Links:

La Fine Mousse, 75020

Frenchie To Go also serves quality wine alongside quality beer. But charges twice the price, and in any case is not a bar.

An impressively early piece on Les Trois 8 at FranceToday.
Some terrific photos of Paris' nascent beer renaissance in this piece at the HiP Paris Blog.

Drinking with Philippe Delmée in Anjou.


  1. Haha. You wouldn't make it an hour on one foot at Le Meurice, they'd have you kicked out

  2. helpful write-up! Can't wait to try several of these beer places on my visit!