Simple is Good at Les Pères Populaires

When we first moved out to the 20th arrondissement, we were stoked to find a bustling, friendly bar just around the corner.  At once very non-Parisian in it's relaxed, inclusive vibe, yet indicative of  the established trend in eastern Paris of more easygoing venues, Les Pères Populaires offers some of the best priced drinks and food amid vintage furniture, music posters, full bookshelves, and a foosball table.  The name loosely translates to "the fathers of the people", a roll they fill quite deftly.

For me, the formule midi is the golden nugget of this establishment.  As soon as noon rolls around, a mixed hoard of people who live or work in the in the neighborhood serenely descend to see what is on offer.  

The menu changes every day, offering one starter, one main course, and one dessert.  Thus, ordering is easy: you can have one, two, or three courses.  It is here that I learned that a lack of options can be a supreme luxury.

The food, like the place, is a little eclectic (why, no matter what dish, are there always sesame seeds on the plate?), but very french at its core.  The fist course is usually a salad featuring a certain vegetable or cheese, or a soup if the weather is cold.  The main course varies from fish to fowl to meat, and always has a simple but interesting vegetable side.  No matter what it is, there is always some extra tasty garnish detail, like an under-the-radar dab of tapenade or coulis.  This is probably related to the chef's talent for undeniably delicious sauces, which no piece of meat leaves the kitchen without.  Today, our main course was spiced, sauteed chicken with coriander in a light jus, with roasted tomatoes, and an écrasée (crush) of potatoes and watercress.  Desserts are often a variation on a pot de crème, or something like the vanilla fromage blanc with strawberries featured on the menu in the photo above.  After many, many meals, I have never left unsatisfied.

Even though they don't serve full dinners, you can always get a planche of meat and cheese or a baguette sandwich in the evenings and enjoy drinks until around 2am.  As this neighborhood moves along with its thorough makeover (one block away, Rue D'Avron just saw a yearlong renovation end with adolescent trees planted along one side, and large planters installed on the other) I'm certain Les Pères Pop will continue to take care of the neighborhood appetites, and grow in notoriety accordingly.

Les Pères Populaires
46 Rue de Buzenval
Paris, 75020
01 43 48 49 22
Weekdays 9am-2am
Weekends 10am-2am 
Les Pères Pop on Myspace

Époisses Cheeseburger at Home in Oakland

Direct from Oakland, CA, here is Simone Rubi's second post on TofC ( mmmmmmmmm ) :

To keep in rhythm to company that is kept on TofC, I thought I'd post about yet another cheeseburger. This burger is inspired by an off-menu cheeseburger I had at one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Heirloom Cafe. The cheese is Époisses. A deliciously stinky washed rind cheese from the Burgundy region of France. The method? Work the cheese, shallot, egg, garlic, into the meat. The cheese isn't stacked and melted on top of the meat later. Unreal. Each bite is filled with the essence of Époisses. It also makes the patty unbelievably juicy. Make the patty by forming the freshly ground meat gently into a log and wrap it up tight with parchment paper. Chill the meat for a a few hours then cut into thick cylinders. The result is the ultimate, bottom line, fantastical, dream of a burger. We didn't eat them on buns like a lot of cutting-down-on-flour folks these days but I imagine a soft brioche bun would be sublime. We had the burger with an arugula salad with a touch of fleur verte cheese and a glass of 2008 Vincent Raimbault Vouvray Demi-sec. We also lucked out and found some fresh Chanterelle mushrooms, wait, no, the mushrooms lucked out to find us and a home at $30. a pound (!) at market hall in Rockridge. Still, we took them home because the idea of sauteing them in butter and fresh thyme then putting them on the burger was too spectacular of a mind movie. So the burger ended up with Chanterelles, carmelized onions, and homemade mustard. A friend, artist Nathaniel Russell, visited Oakland and this is how we did and continue to do.

All photos and text: Simone Rubi

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