Philou

Philou

I always want to put Philou in my Paris favorites list. It’s got so much going for it; a friendly staff, it’s just enough out-of-the way that it attracts a good mix of mostly people who live in the neighborhood with others who come from other parts of the city, their menu features game and wild birds when in season, and when I look at the handwritten chalkboard, everything on it looks good. Plus the prices are gentle, at just €25 for a 2-course menu, or €30 if you choose three courses*. It’s what I would like to call an eminently likeable restaurant, but I’m always afraid I’m going to spell ‘likeable’ wrong and get in trouble for it. So let’s just say that it’s the kind of place that I really like.

wine sardines and semoule philou

Speaking of things I like, I also like the fact that they have an ample list of wines by the glass (€4), 1/2 liter, or full liter (€26), all democratically priced. Clinging on to the last vestiges of summer, in spite of the chilly air outside, we drank a Bandol rosé with dinner. Served by the liter, it was more of a vin gris, a less-fruity, more ‘serious’ wine than traditional rosé.

First up, when I saw the sardines with semoule (fine couscous) at the neighboring table, I decided that I had to have that. I love fresh sardines and while the dish was good, it was served warm and was fine, but missing something – like a dressing that was more assertive with a bit of acid, such as in a touch of lime juice or some lively herbs, such as dill or fresh basil, mixed in with the semoule.

braised beef

I was excited to have the Canard Colvert rôti, roasted duck, (which I love) since the neighboring table was also having that. But unfortunately just after I ordered it, the server came back from the kitchen to let me know that they had run out of it. I was tempted by the Grouse with foie gras, beets, and celery root purée, but I switched to the Joue de boeuf braisée which came with crunchy, very lightly cooked radishes and carrots, which was very good, although someday, fresh horseradish will arrive in Paris and braised beef will be a better dish for it.

entrecote steak and potatoes

Two of my dining companions had the Entrecôte épaisse (thick steak) with grenaille (potatoes) and mushrooms, which they admitted to be very good, and my other pals had the salmon, which had to be substituted when they ran out of the pavé of cod with cocos de Paimpol, or fresh shelling beans.

(I know some people get miffed when restaurants run out of dishes, but to me, that’s always a sign that they are buying fresh ingredients and rotating things properly.)

salmon with beans

No one at the table wanted dessert. Except, of course, me. And I wanted the Bostock with chantilly and glace vanilla, which I convinced one of my dining companions to share. The waiter set down forks for us and we waited for a good fifteen minutes or so, while the rest of the room cleared out. (The terrace, which, judging from the low-hanging cloud out there, was the smoking section, and still hopping.) Finally we flagged a server down and asked about the dessert, and then he told me that they were out of the dessert, too. So we got the check and split.

wine list

They did take two glasses of wine (€4 ea) off our check (which came to €219 for six), perhaps because of the final oversight. Philo is one of those places that I want to like, in spite of its quirks, which aren’t quite endearing enough to overlook. But because it’s hard to find a reasonably priced modern bistro that uses fresh ingredients, where you don’t need to spend two days on speed-dial trying to snag a reservation at, I will go back, especially because the Canard Colvert that our neighboring table had enjoyed into looked great. But I’ll go with a back-up plan, just in case they don’t.

menu du jour

Philou
12 Avenue Richerand (10th)
Tél: 01 42 38 00 13
Métro: République, Goncourt, or Jacques Bonsergent



Related Links

Philou (Paris By Mouth)

Philou (Hungry for Paris)

Philou (Not Drinking Poison in Paris)

Philou (John Talbott)



*Certain main courses, like those with game, have a €10 surcharge in addition to the “menu du jour” price, which – in my opinion – are totally worth it. Certain appetizers also had a surcharge, although not as stiff as other restaurants in Paris of similar quality.

25 comments

  • Dear David,
    A girlfriend threw your book “the sweet life of Paris” at me as I ran out the door to board a plane for Canada. I was on my way to a long ago planned holiday to visit my best girlfriend in Canada, she was returning home for 2 months from Australia with her husband and young child to stay with family and friends in her home country. I had mentioned to my book throwing gf in Oz before leaving that now had 13 days in Europe at the end of my Canadian trip. And here I am in Paris – travelling solo.

    My French is terrible. I was booked in for French classes 2 years ago but the class night I requested was cancelled and I didn’t pursue it any further (a real bummer now), but I seriously give French a try, iphones make life so much easier now and im learning basic French through an iphone app. For lunch today I ordered a red wine and white wine arrived, so im really not doing that well, but I’m loving the experience, and of course – it doesn’t matter. The white wine was beautiful. I’ve been taking notes from your book and have now a long list of places to eat and drink and things I must try!

    I attended yesterday a cooking class at Les Coulisses du Chef, I had the most wonderful experience. During those experiences verbal language is a bonus! I’ve now found your blog and I’m sure my list of must places to visit in Paris for foodie experiences will grew and my waistline may also! C’est la vie!
    Merci!

  • Fresh ingredients in a small place sounds good when in Paris. Just get there before the crowd….
    Prices at 35.00/person are very reasonable, no?

  • David, I’ve read your blog for about three years now (also your books and app) and they helped me so much on my recent trip to Paris and surroundings(thank you!!). I’ll never forget the look on the waitresses face when I asked her for the potimarron soup having apparently pronounced it right (I watched your video!) I bought a cookbook called The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachael Khoo at Shakespeare and Co. It’s really delightful and wondered if you had heard of her?

  • I don’t mind if restaurants run out of food, like you said, shows it’s fresh, however, it really annoys me if they fail to communicate that they’re out!

    The dishes look so good. Looks like you all made really good choices; the entrecôte épaisse looks delicious.

  • Paris is great for this : when I go there, I’m always amazed by all the little restaurant who propose good food for not too much euros.

  • (I know some people get miffed when restaurants run out of dishes, but to me, that’s always a sign that they are buying fresh ingredients and rotating things properly.)

    This is why your blog is so popular. You throw darts of concise common sense and they hit the center of the mark, and you do it often.

    I bookmarked this page with the title “Lebovitz y run out dish good,” not just for this little jewel, but to remind me that, like a lapidary, you turn out these gems on a regular basis because you understand the many facets of food distribution.

  • Just lovely.

    With Autumn here, I am reluctantly letting go of my summer fruits and veggies, basking in the last fistfuls of the figs and italian plums here in the NY area. I made my first batch of roasted brussel sprouts this week (doused with Ras El Hanout… mmmm). I have put away the ice cream maker in favor of brownies, blondies and peanut butter bars (Smitten Kitchen has a great recipe for those). And more interesting holiday dessert recipes are in the planning stage.

    I have been meaning to try a celery root puree- and the root vegetables are starting to call.

    Any suggestions for prep?

    The photos are as always beautiful. Your last post almost had me rolling laughing (I have had a run in with jalapenos myself…), this one just makes me hungry!!

  • Hi David,

    Thanks for this restaurant reco. It’s just what I need as I’ll be in Paris in 3 weeks time and will be looking for interesting restaurants with prix fixe menus in the 20 – 35 euro range.

    You and I met at a book signing at Sugarplum last October and chatted briefly; I was there on an intensive cooking and gastronomy program offered jointly by LCB Paris and the Uni. of Reims, in prep for my new venture teaching kids how to eat healthily and how to cook great food. I’m returning now for my graduation. I’ve rented an apt. in the 14th. I specialise in Indian cooking and especially Goan food (Portuguese/Indian food from the colonial period).
    If you have the time and would like to, you’re welcome to join me on a shopping and cooking expedition one afternoon looking for unusual vegetables and spices and help me cook them, then stay to dinner. I’ll be having one or two Parisien grads over too so will be cooking for them as well.

    Let me know if you’re interested. Love to share with you.

    Cheers,

    Warren.

    PS Was reading your recent Israel chapters and was glad to see that you met another one of my colleagues who was on the course with me, NA.

  • David
    You are so funny! I can so relate to your statement “It’s (restaurant) is what I would like to call an eminently likeable restaurant, but I’m always afraid I’m going to spell ‘likeable’ wrong and get in trouble for it. So let’s just say that it’s the kind of place that I really like”. David, for me THAT word is “occasion”. I dance around it, use “event” in it’s place for the same reason, I’m always afraid that I am going to spell it wrong. I have such a mental block with that word. I am pleased to know there is another one of US out there that has this issue with some words! I bet everyone has one of THOSE WORDS. I would like to take this opportunity (not occasion) to thank you for being your charming, likeable, self effacing self.

  • While the chances of me ever eating somewhere like Poule are actually pretty slim, I *love* reading your reviews. I work in the restaurant business as well and it’s frustrating for everyone involved when the kitchen is out of something, even though it does mean that they’re creating popular and fresh items. It would have driven me crazy to be told a place was out of so many items you wanted to order (especially the dessert– after you got your forks!?) so it’s kind of a catch-22. (and comes down to good communication, as usual!) My French is pretty horrific but I think you spell it- ” c’est la vie “, right? :)

  • *Philou, not Poule, got chicken on the brain these days, sorry! :)

  • “…which I convinced one of my dining companions to share.”

    Since when do you have to convince someone to actually share a dish with you David—you who loathes sharing any plate???

  • Now I am wondering…the taste of fresh sardines, would I love them? Yes, of course I would!

  • Thank you so much for these cool blog posts from and about Paris. It was one of the funnest times of my life visiting France from Germany where I was stationed in the early 80s. Makes me feel like I’m back there with you and the French people. Thanks again.

  • Thanks for your article. My question is ok I understand running out of menu items,
    but that was really weird to let you sit and wait for a dessert that doesn’t exist, does
    that affect your gratuity? Or is it automatically covered?
    Btw thanks too for Celery Root Soup link, I have some beautiful small ones with greens attached, not sure what to do with them.

    • It was a little odd that instead of coming over to let us know they were out of the dessert, they were having a nice chat at the bar & tending to the remaining customers on the terrace. And if I hadn’t flagged them down, I’m not sure how long it would have been (!)

      In France, it’s service compris, where a service charge is automatically added to the check, although it’s common to leave a pourboire, which is a little extra that one can leave for the server, if the service is good. (Often it’s rounding the check up.) But it’s not like in the US, where you are obliged to tip, which can range from 15-20%. I usually leave a pourboire unless the service is actively bad/rude, which it wasn’t in this case – I just think they were distracted. It’s rather unusual to get “freebies” in Paris, such as the 2 glasses of wine they comped, so I think that was a goodwill gesture to apologize for their oversight.

  • It is very nice of them to have taken off a couple drinks. I have experienced a couple places where the waiter spilled the drinks and rather than helping pay for the dry cleaning for a shirt or take care of the drinks that were spilled they simply served us replacements for the drinks without any compensation for having sticky alcohol on your clothes.

    Where is customer service nowadays? Far and few between unfortunately. Which makes those special establishments even more worth the visit.

    Murissa

  • They couldn’t have been more engaging at Philou, such that we went back a day or so later. The service beyond pleasant and the food simply wonderful. We have been recommending it to our friends and your article does Philou and you great credit.

  • Do you really like Canard Colvert? Acouple of years ago, my husband and I had lunch at L’Epigramme, and he ordered what we understood was duck(canard). When it came, he hated it for being too gamey(he said it smelled like a wet dog!!). So we switched plates and I ate it, (nothing to write home about, but ok, with prunes and other dried fruits) My plate was fish “a la bouillabaisse”, really good and fresh. The two women( one French, one Mexican) sitting at the next table asked why we switched plates, when we explained, the French woman told us:” Oh! I hate it too” and that the waiter should have explained to us what “Colvert” was since it is a duck that not even most French like,” ONLY THE HUNTERS!!”, she said.

  • I love this post. The photos are beautiful and the food well I just wanted to head to the airport. I put on a french cd and dreamed I was there. Thanks for sharing your life, your humor and the world of food around you. I am glad I had the chance to assist you a couple of times here in the SF bay area but I am even more happy that you are in France where I can continue to expand my food education. Keep making me smile.

    Laura

  • Dear David,
    I first read your website because my mother sent me an e-mail with a post of yours. I must say I loved it right away!
    It’s very interesting to learn new things from Paris, and, afterwards, when we are there, to look for those places! But with this post, I learned it’s also good to see that, in fact, we share the same opinion! We went for dinner at Philou last January on my mother’s birthday and we found it was delicious! We had foie gras for appetizer, a very well cooked piece of beef – delicious and for dessert I really don’t remeber but the best were the appetizer and main course! Very nice! And we had ordered a wine that we after realized we didn’t appreciate it and they switched the pichet without a problem and brought us a diferent wine which we enjoyed best!
    I will keep on following oyur news!
    All the best!
    Bárbara (Madeira Island)

  • David, can I reassure you about “likeable”? You can’t get it wrong as both likeable and likable are correct (likable’s preferred in the US and likeable elsewhere, but neither variant’s wrong anywhere). As for “accommodate”, just remember to double down! (Two ms, two cs.)

  • a simple comment, the phone number changed: i called today and the one you give doesnt exist anymore, the right one is 01 42 38 00 13

    (i ll try it this evening hopefully)

    Thanks – that was the number that was on the check, so appreciate the update! -dl