We all have a favourite bistro where we wouldn’t hesitate to spend the whole day. Even if there are some of the most beautiful, newest and best located, we always go back there. But then, what is a good bistro?
It is not uncommon to have a favourite bistro (or bistro). Whether it is for its slate, its atmosphere, its geographical location or just because it brings back good memories, this place exists in everyone’s life. And even if it is not easy to agree on what a good bistro is, we can still try to answer this question.
How do we define a good bistro?
In the editorial office it was decreed that a bistro, a good one, is a place where one eats well and simply. The slate must be accessible to all budgets, so it will not be surprising to see the usual tartar steaks and fries on the menus. The opposite would be surprising. Of course, then there’s the wine list where the rosé and red wine are flowing. No need to look around, there will not be the grand cru of the year, but you won’t find anything to complain about. First of all because it is a bistro and not a three-star restaurant approved by the Michelin Guide and secondly because it is not a restaurant that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it.
The clientele is often the same. There are high school seniors who discover the pleasure of cramming while sipping a latte, students who get together to catch up on the latest gossip. Some are alone, others in groups. Still others come for the first time and wonder if it’s really worth having lunch here or waiting and taking away before returning home. Then there are the regulars, you know them all by their first names. So much so that it has almost become a ritual to greet José and Pierre-Henry who are smoking a cigarette on the terrace. Sometimes you almost get the impression that their dog crouching under the table is nodding at you.
A bistro, let’s face it, is an unlikely meeting place. If it’s friendly then it’s great!
Among the Parisian bistros that we appreciate (in the four corners of Paris), there is also a question of geographical location. Some are chosen because of their location. At the university students will frankly like the café-bar closest to their university without worrying about the map. It will become THE landmark in no time. Well it’s the same for us, isn’t it? The bar closest to work or home can become the place to be for the whole gang.
Apart from geographical proximity, some bistros have such a strong cultural and/or popular history that it becomes an important selection criterion. For example, the café La Renaissance hosted for a few scenes the actors of Inglorious Basterds (a film by Quentin Tarantino, released in theatres in 2009). This detail has undeniably boosted the popularity of this bistro. Very nice place by the way.
Our penultimate selection criterion is atmosphere. Yes, a relaxed atmosphere is important, as is the music. A manager who knows his business doesn’t hesitate to share the music he prefers with us to make us feel at home. And that’s important if you’re going to spend hours at a time. In the ambience category, we also put the service in, we prefer when the hotel staff is friendly and attentive. If he remembers your orders or your first name, it’s sold sold: it’s good and tips will be given.
Last but not least. The de-co-ra-tion. Often when we hear bistro, we think of a dingy coffee bar where the floor is covered with PMU bulletins. The faded walls and sticky tables are wobbly and so on. Contrary to the disastrous image that we just put in your head, a bistro has a simple but warm decoration.
La Renaissance (18th arrondissement) – 112 rue Championnet – M° Jules Joffrin- line 4
Le petit rétro (16th arr) – 5 rue Mesnil – M° Victor Hugo – line 2
Right bank (1st arr) – 2 rue Berger – M° Les halles – rer A
Le Bellerive (19th Arr) – 71 quai de la Seine – M° Riquet – line 7
Café de l’industrie (11th arr) – 16 rue saint-Sabin – M° Bréguet-Sabin
Au bistrot de la montagne (5th arrondissement) – 38 rue de la Montagne Sainte Gueneviève