Le Garde Robe and Spring

rosé on the street

After my recent lament about the state of bistros in Paris, where I noted that the wine bars in Paris often had the best food, when my friend Rochelle who owns Chefwear was in town this week, I wanted to go somewhere casual, where we’d be assured of good, honest food.

sliced jambon

So we agreed to meet at Le Garde Robe, one of my favorite wine bars in Paris, which serves mostly natural wines. Another plus are the charcuterie and cheeses they serve by the plate (€12 for a platter of each, or you can get one mixed), which make a great accompaniment to the wines. Each wooden board arrives in front of you resplendent, and is a great way to sample some of the top-quality meats and fromages from France, and beyond.

blackboard cheese

Another thing about Le Garde Robe is that the fun spills into the street. I’ve spent a few late evenings perched on a stool outside with friends, laughing and drinking until way past my bedtime. And the staff often becomes ‘creative’ when using parked cars and trucks to help them out. (Can you imagine the driver’s reaction in America if they came out and saw a board leaning against their car?)

I met Rochelle way back in 1989 when we were both baking and working as pastry chefs in the San Francisco Bay Area and we met over a shared love of caramel. Our sweet fate was sealed when I gave her my recipe for dark caramel sauce. She told me it’s still her favorite.

baguette bottles of wine

We traipsed through the wine list, tasting various wines offered by the glass (€5-€6.50) noted on the chalkboard. The staff is very savvy about the wines and I always ask them about the ones on the list because they change each day, which I can justify as being part of my “education”, as I’m always interested in learning more about wine.

The other evening, when the woman (who I am this-close to being on first-name basis with, at this point) behind the bar asked how I liked the rosé that I started with, which was being chilled in a bulbous carafe so it was icy-cool, I responded that it wasn’t a big, full-on rosé as I was anticipating, she looked very concerned and wanted to replace it. It was fine, but unlike other rosés that can be heavy and round, this one was a bit lighter and less-complex than I was expecting. But her response was such a nice change from the grumpy welcome I had at Au Petit Riche, it made the glass go down even easier.

sliced vegetables chilling rosé

It can be a challenge to find fresh, vibrant vegetables on menus in town (vegetarians take note), and Le Garde Robe fixed us a giant platter of raw vegetables served with a dipping bowl of pesto. But the vegetables aren’t just hacked up and thrown on a plate; they’re sliced thinly, drizzled with nice olive and argan oil, and sprinkled with crackles of fleur de sel.

We also had a heaping plate of nutty Iberian ham that went nicely with the Sauvignon Blanc we transitioned to. If you don’t want to order one of the wines by the glass, you can also check out the wines lined up on the wall and choose one to drink, paying a surcharge of €7 over the price shown. Neighbors come in to buy their wine here, hence the price difference. Needless to say, I’m apartment-hunting nearby.

I’m not sure if they serve dessert, but we ended up walking around the corner to Spring, because Rochelle’s company is in Chicago, where Daniel Rose, the chef/owner of the restaurant, is from. And I wanted them to meet. (Okay, I also curious to go back and take a peek at how they were doing after their opening.)

tomatoes and tuna

Of course, we didn’t go for a full meal—we just walked in and pulled up to a couple of stool that happen to be available at the kitchen counter. (There’s several reviews of Spring at Paris By Mouth*). A few minutes later, two small plates of savory food arrived: the first was a couple of wedges of tomatoes covered with leek ‘ashes’, which added a nice smoky touch to the sweet heirloom tomatoes. A small plate of eggplant purée topped with chunks of pickled eggplant and deep-fried shallot rings was a good accompaniment to both the wine, and the summery tomatoes.

Sancerre rosé cooking at Spring

A second plate brought a roasted morsel of veal, with another piece of veal sliced and used to hold up a prawn, a combination that went very well with the wine they suggested. We both drank Sancerre rosé, which was not only excellent, but educational, as I never knew there was rosé from Sancerre. But I’m trekking to their boutique this week to pick up a few bottles to get me through until the end of summer.

veal at Spring

Finally came dessert, which started with bowls of raspberries, with the gentle dampness of berries that have been just-picked, floating in a light peach tea with unsweetened cocoa nibs bobbing in the broth, which provided not-too-sweet transition to dessert.

raspberries in verbena syrup

Which was two small rectangles of ricotta cake scribbled with dark chocolate sauce, which were memorable, indeed. Well, they would’ve been, had we not had about six glasses of wine each, including a sweet dessert wine at Spring to finish it all off.

eggplant puree with pickled eggplant Le Garde Robe

Thankfully Rochelle has a better memory than I do and tipped me off as to how our evening ended the next day.



Le Garde Robe
41, rue de l’Arbre Sec (1st)
Tél: 01 49 26 90 60

Spring
6, rue Bailleul (1st)
Tél: 01 45 96 05 72

Favorite Wine Bars in Paris

Le Rubis

Le Baron Rouge

Paris Wine Shops & Bars (Dr Vino)

Le Vert au Vin (John Talbott’s Paris)

Le Verre Volé

Tombé du Ciel (Hungry for Paris)

*UPDATE: I did go back a few days later and had a full-on lunch with friends. We had a lovely bottle of Chablis and each had the ‘bouillon’ lunch offered, which is a series of tastes and different dishes, with a bowl of soup being part of the attraction.

Our meal started with rich eggplant puree topped with pickled eggplants, smoked yellow heirloom tomatoes, fried eggplant slices (that were amazing), then a cool, bright-green soup made of salad greens graced with crisp bacon. On the side were copious slices of warm duck breast with very thin French radishes and tiny beets scattered over the top. Dessert was cheesecake on a crust of speculoos (spice cookies) with the best raspberries I’ve had in Paris, and a perfect little dab of tangy lemon curd.

The meal was truly wonderful, but is a lot of food at lunch. So if you go, bring your appetite. The price for three of us, which included a €40 bottle of wine, one order of cheese (€7) served tableside from their fine selection, and coffee was €167. Because of the specialness of the ingredients and the attention devoted to their preparation, there are no choices on the menu at Spring. So if you go, you should be open to eating whatever is being served that day.



Related Links

Ô-Chateau

Paris Travel Archives

Paris Dining Guides

Le Verre Volé

French Menu Translation Made Easy

Cognac

35 comments

  • Had the chance to dine at Spring on Saturday, and I thought it was phenomenal. Totally lived up to the hype. Quite possibly one of the best meals I’ve had in Paris. Will have to check out Le Garde Robe next time I’m in the neighborhood.

  • Ooooohhhhh those raspberries sound phenomenal. I love the combination of raspberries with chocolate, the two flavours play off one another so beautifully I always think. How is peach tea made, approximately? Real fruit teas as opposed to the artificially flavoured and coloured things are something I’d really love to add to my repertoire…

    AND I’m jealous of that ham. Any mileage in a dish of raspberries, ham and cocoa nibs? Hmm. As far as outlandish marriages of flavours go, that one actually sounds good…

  • Wow, David, we were just there! It was wonderful being so close to a choice of great little restaurants – it was possible to eat there every night sampling new fare, but of course we ventured out of our neighborhood as well. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  • Ooooh, I wish this was in my neighborhood – don’t know the husband and I would ever make it back to the 7th after an evening like this… but it might be worth a try!

  • I miss the “good ole days” when there was a web-cam over the counter at the old Spring. Spring TV was an interesting view of a small business trying to serve its customers in the smallest space. Victoria Wilde has some great photos and a video of the making of the New Spring on her site http://www.victoriawilde.com/ . The lower level looks very interesting. Two years of work looks pretty good in the photos. I can’t wait to get back to Paris…for so many reasons.

  • Ah. Rosé wine. I wonder why it has never really taken off over here in North America. Just this Saturday I went to my local wine store and the selection was less than exciting.

    Such a perfect summer drink.

  • These are two of the restaurants that are now on my list (oml) for places to go when in Paris. The problem is that the next time I am in Paris is this August 1113 for 10 days. Do you think either of them would be open then? Having trouble where to pick to dine because of not knowing who will be open.

  • David, if this bar serves natural wines, there must be unnatural wines. Please explain the difference.

    If one needed any reason at all to move to Paris, your luscious food photos would seal the deal.

    Kathleen

  • Thanks for the always interesting blog, David. I’ve followed it since I first bought the ice cream attachment to my Kitchen Aid!

    I’m looking forward to sipping a glass of Rosé when I get to Paris next week – when I was last in France it was the drink of choice for the entire Summer holiday. Luckily our South African winemakers now produce great Rosé – years ago you could only find the sweet stuff.

    I’ve been keenly book-marking your tips and recommendations as this trip will be an extended two months in Paris – will be sure to try Le Garde Robe.

    Now just to find a perfume course/workshop in Paris – my other passion following imbibing great quantities of wine :)

  • Cooking in Mexico: Here’s a definition of natural wine, which describes what they are.

    Nancy: Spring is supposed to be open all summer, which is giving them time to “feel their legs”. I believe their phone has finally been installed so if you’d like a reservation, now may be the time, before everyone comes back from their vacations.

    Camille: Glad you gave it the thumb’s up. We just had a few courses but I have a reservation this week to go back for a full-on meal.

  • Thank you thank you thank you – for the socca recipe!!!! I declared this summer the rose-tasting summer (I don’t know how to do the little thing above the e – sorry) – we bought several assorted bottles and I finally got around to making socca – it tasted even better than what he had in Nice! I had really thought part of the taste was being there – it just brought back memories. Thank you again!

  • Wow. That pile of prosciutto….yum

  • What I wouldn’t give for some delicious ripe raspberries right now! And yet even whent hey come into season in Australia, they still cost about $8 a punnet. Daylight robbery. Yet another way the Paris beats Canberra!

  • David,
    I just read a post from Journal News Food Editor, Liz Johnson, who visited the new Fairway Market in Pelham (Westchester County, NY) and discovered that Iberico Ham was $100 a pound. Wow! Could this be the same ham you had at Le Garde Robe?

  • La Garde Robe is a delightful little spot! The service is good, the wines are interesting and the food is delicious! Will have to get back to tryout Spring-

  • Love you, your blog, your recipes……..I can’t find the caramel sauce recipe. The
    link goes to Amazon. I just ordered your dessert book, is it in there?
    Thanks,
    bob in mississippi

  • I’m making a note of all your wine bar recommendations for my trip in October! Thanks for all your insights into life in Paris.

  • Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your photos. I’m relieved to see from your photo FAQ that you take lots and futz with the levels in Photoshop, as it makes me feel slightly less inadequate about my own sporadic, pathetic and invariably disappointing efforts. However you do it, though, they have a light and luminous quality that’s really striking (and mouthwatering).

  • Dear David:
    I am Spanish and read your blog from Spain. I love your blog, but i want to say you that the ham in the picture is not iberico. Perhaps serrano ham (cheaper and not as good).
    Kisses from Spain

    Thanks Marta: I meant Iberian ham, not Iberico, and I corrected that in the post. x-dl

  • Gavrielle: For these shots, I used my point & shoot, because it’s easier to carry. But a DSLR is a good investment and really takes much better pictures. You might want to give one a try if you’re unhappy with your shots. (Maybe a friend will lend you theirs in exchange for a bottle of French rosé!)

    Hi Bob: The recipe is indeed on page 241 of the book. I assumed some folks might want to know where the recipe was published and it’s not on the site. Enjoy the caramel sauce!

    Richard: Glad you like it, too!

    Phyllis: Yes, Spanish ham is quite expensive (our plate, shown, was €13), but it’s really wonderful. For Iberico ham, pigs forage on wild acorns, which gives the ham a nutty, special quality. The FDA has just allowed it to be imported into the US, but it’s widely-available in Europe. Lomo, is a less-expensive way to experience it. (In America, La Tienda imports Spanish ham.)

    Incidentally, Portugal is said to have some terrific ham (called Presunto) which is said to be similar, but less pricey. I haven’t tried it, though.

  • Thanks for the introduction to Argan Oil – I had never heard of it, and found the Wikipedia link very interesting. Can’t wait to try it!

  • David,

    Thanks for the description of La Garde Robe, it’s now on our list. By the way, I think the phone at Spring may still not be working — for me it just rings forever. But I did make a reservation there by calling the Spring Boutique (01 58 62 44 30) — I left a message and they called back promptly to confirm. PS: We are still happily working our way through your ice cream book . . . .

    Due to problems with their phone company, their number is not quite functioning properly, but I spoke to Daniel today and he said it should be working by tomorrow. In the meantime, folks can call the Spring boutique (which is listed at the web-link I gave in the post, to Spring) and they may be taking reservations until the regular phone line works. -dl

  • My first post…ever! I just loooove your site, your writing, and your photos. Stumbled upon your site when searching for gluten-free in Paris a couple of years ago and have been hooked ever since. I dream of writing as eloquently and humorously as you, and your photos are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing a part of you with us.
    The bowl of raspberries sounded so delightful and simple makes me just smile.

    Sincerely,
    Laura

  • Long day at work making tiles, and I go to your blog for the usual calming goodness in it. That glass of rose, and I have none in the house, nor the energy to walk to the wine shop. Then, that oil – I’d never heard of it, so I had to email a neighbor girl for a foodie excursion to Magazine Street to check out the new oil store and see if they have it. But I know I won’t find leek “ashes”; how are those made? Are they leeks grilled ’til they’re still a bit chewy but black, or are they almost completely burned? The neighborhood needs to know. I’ve gotten several people around here reading you now, and we get together to cook a few times a week (usually having ice cream from your recipes). Some parts of those meals we need to copy. Thank you for a wonderful read.

  • I will definately visit both places next time I am in Paris! Thanks for recommendations :)
    Monika

  • Hey David,
    Are you sure it wasn’t pumpkin seed oil that was sprinkled on those veggies? I’ve been supplying Le Garde Robe with some top-notch pumpkin seed oil from Slovenia’s Styria this spring and summer. Am curious to know if you’ve had a chance to try it out — would LOVE to know what you think of it.
    Cheers,
    Paola

  • Hi Paola: I didn’t ask, but it tasted very much like argan oil to me. Plus it didn’t seem to have much of a color, like pumpkin oil does, although it was hard to tell on the colorful beets. Next time I go in, I’ll ask what oil they used on them.

  • Just returned from Paris and was lucky enough to try Spring during its first week! Thank you for your insights and recommendations on your blog – we sampled many incredible pastries, chocolates, restaurants and stores thanks to your recommendations.

    I bought your latest book on the weekend and was eager to try the Banana Cake on the cover. I flipped open the book, and to my shock, someone had torn out page 61 and 62!! I have a collection of over 150 cookbooks and have never had anything like that happen! I guess you have many (creepy) fans in Miami!

    I got a new copy and made the cake last night and it was fabulous! Just bought an ice cream maker and I’m looking forward to making many more recipes from your cookbook. Thank you!

  • Mouthwatering! On the subject of wine and French know-how, here’s an informative video – http://www.wimp.com/wineshoe

  • My God Man I am drooling on the keyboard and my laptop is at risk of short circuiting. Just when I’m thinking I’ve had a few decent meals at some west coast French restaurants I read this post and realize that I’ve dropped my standards and am in a dire need of a trip back to Paris.

    Fantastic blog and pics. Thanks again. — Le Capitaine

  • David,
    Thanks for this post. I’m coming to Paris for the first time next week and I started listing places to try, only to read really terrible reviews- places like l’Epigramme or La Gazzetta.
    After reading your post (and the comments), I feel like “Le Garde Robe” or “Spring” would be good places to try. I totally trust your judgment… so thanks!
    I just hope these places are open in August.

  • Hi Michael: It’s hard to suggest restaurants to folks, because everyone has different expectations and the staff might have a night off, and sometimes cultural differences can muddy the difference between what is good and bad restaurant service.

    Local food writer Alec Lobrano recently wrote about “…a distinct difference between the way that we locals perceive of a restaurant and the reception accorded to the same addresses by visitors…most visitors are looking for truly exalting gastronomic experiences when they come to Paris, and so they tend to be mystified and disappointed by certain new Paris addresses that have been enthusiastically received by local food critics.”

    Restaurants I recommend on the site are generally places that I am fairly sure folks will enjoy. Wine bars with their platters of charcuterie and cheeses…well, if someone don’t enjoy those, one shouldn’t come to France! ; )

    I ate at L’Epigramme once and liked it a lot (except for the decor), I wasn’t taken with La Gazzetta, and Spring was pretty great. But if folks have food concerns or are picky eaters, Spring may not be that place as you need to go with an open mind…and stomach.

    Alison: A few people discredited that video (and technique), claiming it was a hoax. I haven’t tried it yet, because I always carry a corkscrew with me!

  • first time commenting, waiting for a copy of your book to make it to me in greece.

    one thing i love about france is cheese shops and cured meat, though i also love spain for the latter. here, we can get 20 kinds of feta but no goat’s cheese, smoked swiss or even monterey jack. what a sad existence i live! looking at your photos gives me something to look forward to.

  • Hey David,
    I’ve never tasted Argan Oil– I’ve only ever put it on my face to keep my skin young :) Will have to try it and I urge you to PLEASE try my pumpkin seed oil. It comes from a biodynamic farm on Slovenia’s border with Hungary & Austria, and I started selling it abroad because I liked the farmers and their story so much. The flavor is rich and fresh– seriously delicious.
    Cheers,
    Paola

  • Hi David,

    Having recently had the pleasure to be in Paris and attend your book signing at Pane Olio et al with the lovely free rosé, I was able to hit up some of your beloved Parisian hotspots based on your Redvisitor clip. Le Garde Robe was sadly one of the places that couldn’t fit into the itinerary. But honey, I can’t believe the culirati you know! The owner of Chefwear?! Oh, how star-struck I would be!

    Cheers,
    David