Le Nemrod

Le Nemrod

I don’t really have a favorite café in Paris. Contrary to what people think, few people that live in Paris will cross the city to stop into a casual place for a drink or something to eat. Most will go to a local spot where the servers know you, where you’ll get a friendly greeting because the staff recognizes you as a regular. Which is a form of currency in town, one that you really want to hold on to.

Le Nemrod

However, when you’re out and about, it’s nice to have a bonne adresse to stop into, where you can be assured of a bon acceuil (good welcome) and a decent plat du jour, or something else to eat. Over in the 7th arrodissement, after prowling the aisles of La Grande Épicerie or hitting some of the Left Bank chocolate and pastry shops, I’ll often find myself at Le Nemrod, a classic corner café serving French fare with an Auvergnat bent.

Le Nemrod

(Many Auvergnat people from the center of France, migrated to Paris and opened restaurants serving hearty foods influenced by their region, which is rugged and mountainous. Paris is dotted with Auvergnat épiceries as well, that offer sausages, dried hams hanging from the rafters, rustic pâtés, bitter liqueurs made from gentian root, and excellent cheeses. The Auvergnats are known for being very hard-working people, and eat rich foods to fortify themselves. Many café owners in Paris hail from the Auvergne – as does my hard-working, and remarkably striking, dentist.)

Le Nemrod

Because I was rounding out a week of heavy-duty eating due to a record seven different visitors last week (which required plenty of fortification to keep up with them!), I passed on the salade Auvergnate, a gut-buster of a plate heaped with a mound of potatoes, country ham, cubes of Cantal cheese, hard-cooked eggs, walnuts, with a bit of lettuce and tomato underneath, just – I guess – so they can call it a salad.

I had my usual, a Croque Poilâne est sa petite salade, an open-faced version of the café classic, which is often sandwiched between two slices of bread. But since pain Poilâne is longer than plain white bread (pain de mie), it comes to the table as a tartine, rather than a double-breaded sandwich. On this visit, mine came out pretty well broiled, but that’s the spirit of a corner café; they’re not necessarily pinnacles of gastronomy, they’re places to feed yourself and have a good time.

In Paris. You don’t always need to visit one of the top ten restaurants that ten thousand other people are trying to get into, and you are flipping out because the line is busy continuously for three weeks or no one answers when you do manage to get through. You can just go to a traditional corner café, have a salad or a plat du jour, and carafe of vin du mois served by a snappy French waiter, and sit back in your rickety chair and enjoy the spectacle that is a Parisian café.

Le Nemrod

My cousin, who was also winding down from ten days of eating, decided on a simple omelette fromage. (Which, in France, is often referred to as “something light to eat.”) And we oddly opted out of a plate of fries, which come to the table as thin wisps of deep-fried potatoes, rather than chunky batons.

Le Nemrod

However, we didn’t skip dessert, which was a triple-scooped bowl of glaces Berthillon, which is admittedly impossible to pass up. (Served with a buttery Punition cookie, also from Poilâne.) From the first spoonful of the remarkably dense chocolate ice cream, forgot I was reminded how good Berthillon ice cream is. Although the scoops are smaller than our American appetites expect (and can I get some more cookies?), the intense flavor of the bittersweet chocolate has more chocolate flavor than a hundred scoops from anywhere else. Other flavors we had were moka and nougat, with the taste of nutty pistachios shining through the honey-flavored frozen custard.

Le Nemrod

Le Nemrod
(Note: Site opens with music)
51, rue du Cherche-Midi (6th)
Tél: 01 45 48 17 05
(M: Saint-Placide, Rennes, Sèvres-Babylon)


44 comments

  • Funny enough, I’m leaving a few blocks away from this place. Nothing extraordinary but as you said, a typical French bistro. It’s not too touristy and as such, worth a visit.
    xx Alice

  • Words of wisdom Mr Lebovitz! I have often found myself traipsing across town, nose in a guide, missing out on what is right in front of me. Now I have two favourite locals that I just call the red and the blue cafes, on opposite corners by the Canal de l’Ourcq. (One is called Le Bastringue, I think? If you ever find yourself way up north!) Bon dimanche!

  • I like the small, cozy cafes in Paris. They’re just so darn comfortable and relaxed and those are some nice moments in that town. Have check Le Nemrod out the next time that I’m in Paris.

  • I went to Berthillon (some 15 years ago) for the first time because of the side note you wrote in the caramel ice cream recipe in Room for Dessert! I imagine the range of flavors they have today is amazing. But bittersweet chocolate and moka will forever be some of my favorites.
    The feeling of belonging and greeted with our name at a cafe is so interesting. I once went to the Beverly Wilshire hotel (ages ago), and there was a person next to the elevator whose only job was to greet you by name! He did it every single time you stepped in or out.

  • Just got back from Paris, David, and find much wisdom in your words re the latest “hot” restaurant vs a neighborhood bistro. Although we did have reservations made weeks ahead for a place that we really wanted to try (and yes, it was good!), our favorite meal of the week was on the day we arrived at a restaurant close to our apartment. Bistro d’Henri on rue Princess in the 6th will serve you a meal at any hour which is a plus when it is 2 pm Paris time but your head is still in 8 pm home time! The owner was warm, welcoming, and amused with our attempts at the language. His food was classic French “home cooking”. Absolutely delicious!

  • Le Nemrod! My former hangout. Yes, nothing exceptional about the food, but always decent, great ambiance: a no-brainer kind of “Let’s go to the Nem” place. Thanks, David!

  • On your recommendation, this was my favorite stop for bacon salad. It disappeared for a long time, and finally returned as a much more anemic version…

  • I was all set for a vegetable-heavy week of eating to recover from Valentine’s Day, but now all I can think about is that Croque Poilâne. So simple, yet so ingenious! Thanks for the inspiration, even if it has derailed my plans :)

  • I couldn’t figure out why Nemrod was worth your nod till I read the article. If your readers want something in that ‘hood L’Epi Dupin on rue Dupin which bangs into Nemrod, just opened a take out -sit in boutique for food.. Yum.

  • Extraordinary name for a Parisian brasserie..
    Nemrod, the divine hunter, the gorgeous founder of Babylon and Ninive!
    Its spicy vin chaud – a glass of red mulled wine -is just fine for hotting up the Nemrod within you against the drab Paris Winter afternoons.
    And how I do agree with the observations on the virtues of one´s local brasserie around the corner. Absolutely indispensable as for mastering the art of living.

  • In May we stayed on Rue Paul Bert and visited three of the name-brand restaurants there. All were very good, but our most enjoyable meal was at Au Petit Panisse, a few blocks away. The room was gorgeous, the service from the co-owner harried but attentive and the menu had just enough creativity to spark our interest, particularly a chestnut cake that oozed flavor. Was the food the best of the week? No, but the overall experience of being in a “real” place surrounded by local families and groups of friends made it special.

  • I in no way mean to cast aspersions on this cafe, which looks terrific, (and I wish I was there enjoying that ridiculously delicious looking dish of ice cream right this second), but the name makes me smile. As an American, the associations I have with the word “Nimrod” are sort of goofy. I looked it up and apparently I have Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd to thank for that.

    In French I am assuming that Le Nemrod means something more like “the great hunter”?

    (And of course it goes without saying that everything sounds better in French, anyway, as a general rule).

  • Bonnie – I too ate at Bistro d’Henri recently (just before Christmas 2013) and wholeheartedly agree with your review. It was warm, inviting, authentic (many Parisians were eating there) and the Burgundian food was delicious. We stumbled on to it when we were desperate for lunch and didn’t know where to go and discovered a real treasure for foodies. I will be going back next time!

  • We also do not understand that MUST EAT HERE state of mind, making reservations for practically every evening months in advance.
    We have had excellent meals just wandering into places that “looked good”

  • We are lucky to have pain Poilane and their cookies here in London. I often go to their shop in Victoria and buy some bread, cookies and an apple croissant to eat then and there. Their bread makes excellent toast and lasts a good four days. They also sell extremely well priced sel de Bretagne in the shop.

  • I have been to Le Nemrod several times and liken it to an American diner. The food is fine, the ambience is typically French, and the Beaujolais Nouveau that I drank there was wonderful. Unlike other Parisian eateries, the Le Nemrod staff was warm, welcoming, and tolerant of my inability to speak coherent French. Plus, the 7th is a very interesting area to explore. The Poilane bakery is not far from Le Nemrod, and their bread is often exquisite though at times dry and chewy. For another treat in the 7th, I recommend Cuisine de Bar for a very tasty lunch. Such wonderful thoughtsw while I look at the snow drifts in New York!!

  • This place is great and so good for people watching. Yummy steak tartare.

  • The last time I was in Paris my dad and I wandered into a little cafe across the street from our hotel; we ended up making some friends and having a wonderful meal, although I can’t remember what I ate. It looks like that was a good strategy! What a wonderful post on what looks like a nice, cozy cafe.

    This reminds me of the diner up the street from my apartment in Chicago: the food is nothing to write home about, but they’re in the neighborhood, they know my boyfriend and I, and they’re always quick to bring us fried eggs and fresh coffee. It’s good to have neighborhood spots like that, where you feel like you’re part of a community instead of just a customer. What you said about recognition being a kind of currency rings so true to me!

  • Just the mention of Berthillon makes my day better. I still remember my very first taste back in 1985, sorbet fruit de la passion. We went back every day we were in Paris. #ContentedSigh

  • Bravo. We love cruising into Nemrod for just reliably good eats and a pleasant evening. It’s exactly as you describe.

  • There are restaurants that although they might not have the trendiest food or be consistently perfect in execution they offer a great, enjoyable experience. Always feel like we find places like that when we travel. Ate at a cafe in Cambodia once where the mom ran the kitchen and the 5 daughters did everything else and we had such a great time talking to the girls and the family; who even cares/remembers what the food was like…

  • God, I love that the scoops are so small yet just exactly enough. I am so sick of huge American portions everywhere you go. It’s sickening, literally.

  • Some of my favorite meals in Paris were at some corner café where I happened to stop with friends or family. When my dad was visiting he was staying in an apartment a few blocks from Port-Royal, on a little side street. Instead of wandering all over the place to find a restaurant for lunch one day, we walked down the block to the place on the corner, where we were the only foreigners and the menus weren’t translated, and we were both delighted.

  • Thank you for bringing back so distant memories of what was a gloomy day. I used to live 16 (!) years ago on Rue de St-Placide, 10 doors from Le Nemrod. Your article instantly brought me back to that wonderful time of leaving my country for the first time and just living. Le Nemrod was our Bar à vin of prédilection. Sweet memories of simpler times for me

  • @Lynn loring…
    Thank you for mentioning L’Epi Dupin. A huge favorite of mine! I eat there for lunch any chance I can get when in Paris – and it serves a darn good dinner, too. It’s a warm place with good service and owners who don’t mind that my French is limited. I try, which is the point. The scallop roe entree (1st course) is sublime. I stay at the Lutece, within a short walk of Poilane and la Grande Epicerie, as well as Laduree – a perfect location! Paris is the best “walking” city of any in Eurpoe or the states.

    Thank you, David, for helping me feel I’m in Paris…even when I am not!

  • Your philosophy works anywhere. Live local, eat local get to know the people that provide the service be friendly. The rewards follow, the restaurant is full but they try to fit you in, free grappa at the end of a meal. Works in Sydney, Australia.
    Cheers,
    Bob Castro

  • Ron: I’ve not been there but just down the street is a small restaurant called La Ravigote (41 rue de Montreuil). The food is, well – fine. But it’s a very cozy and inexpensive place to grab a bite. (And just down the street is one of the best bread bakeries in Paris!) And you’re right that it’s sometimes nice just to go in somewhere without the hassle of having to snag a reservation, and you can have a nice time just soaking in the atmosphere.

    VinXpert and Lynn: I ate there a long time ago (as in, perhaps 10 years ago) and but haven’t been back since. They got a lot of press at the time and it was “the” place, so perhaps it’s calmed down a bit. Thanks for the reminder.

    Casey: Yes, these places often have the same feel/vibe as the US diner, where the food is adequate but you just know the place and feel comfortable.

    Bonnie: There certainly are places worth reserving in Paris (and you do need to be careful just walking into a café as not all are serving good food in Paris), but during the past holiday season when people were furiously writing to me, asking what restaurants would be open, I told a lot of people not to stress but just go for a walk and they would certainly find a little corner restaurant or café open and serving food.

    Although I mentioned folks need to be aware that not all cafés have amazing food, you can alway order something like a Croque monsieur or Salade Chèvre-chaud (warm goat cheese salad) and a carafe of wine, and make a cozy meal of it. As others have mentioned the welcome here is always nice and it’s well-situated.

  • I’ve endured so many frozen poulet fermiers and green beens sogging in butter at Parisian cafés that whenever I find a good one I make sure to jot it down, definitely adding this one to the list for the next time I find myself hungry in the 6th!

    Though I’ve found that ordering a croque monsieur is pretty safe anywhere :)

  • We visited the Auvergne a few years ago and I still dream of the aligot. And oh! those wonderful cheeses and the ice cream and…thanks for the memories Daveed.

  • having a place where you feel a bit at home is priceless.

    That’s why I go in most of the places i go. (except the ones I try cause of your suggestions ;) )

  • OT, but wanted to thank you for amazing recipes for Lemon madeleines and gateau Therese. I prepared. both for Valentine’s day, and they were a huge hit. Gateau Therese gets better and better day after day!

  • Those cookies certainly don’t seem very punitive!

  • The last time I was in Paris a did a one day cooking class at the Cordon Bleu and it included a trip to Poilane bakery. I remember buying a packet of those very cookies you’ve show here. Wow, are they ever good. I also got see them being made in the basement of the shop with the biggest tub of butter I’ve ever seen. I also saw them shoveling those baskets of bread dough into that huge old oven. What a memorable day. I also made at least 4 (if not more) trips to Berthillon for ice cream. I simply couldn’t get enough. This post brought back great memories. Thanks very much.

  • I’ve only had Berthillon ice cream once, but it was a doozy: a double cone with bittersweet chocolate and pear. As you say–more flavor than a hundred scoops of anything else.

  • David, Le Nemrod has been a stop for me every time my shopping has me in the 7th since I read your first posting about the place. It never disappoints me and everyone I have taken then has been so glad to have a great place in such a location. The salads are wonderful as are the fries. Thanks.

  • Oh my gosh. I knew the name sounded familiar… I had my first ever meal in Paris in this very cafe. I was living nearby in student housing in the 6th on Rue de Sevres. Such great memories there. I loved their country omelet and steak au poivre.

    Thank you for this!

  • Hi David,

    As a part-time Parisien, we often stopped for lunch at Chez Les Filles around the corner from Le Nemrod. After loving every tajine there for years, it suddenly disappeared.
    Did you every go there? And, do you know anything about why it closed or if it, I hope, re-opened anywhere?

    Loey

    • I have not been to that restaurant and didn’t know of it. That neighborhood changes frequently, I suspect, because real estate prices are so high and it’s hard to run a business. Someone had told me Le Nemrod was sold, which was one of the reasons I was interested in going back. But when I asked the waiter, he said the restaurant wasn’t sold. Whew!

  • Looks like a solid place! As a pastry cook, blogger, and enthusiast, I’m doing a 7-day trip to Paris in early October on my own to learn more about pastries and buy some cookbooks. Your blog is about to become a great resource! If you have any suggestions specific to pastry cooks on where to eat and books to buy, that would be great as well!

  • Hello,
    Love your site ! :)
    Can i ask you : what’s in the jar ? The one who sits near salt and pepper….
    I never beet in Paris BUT I DREAM ABOUT IT :) and for other beautiful places…
    Till then i look forward your extraordinary news… :)
    Daniela

  • When I was in Paris in 2003, we chanced upon many good restaurants. One was on Rue de Rivoli, I believe, near the Opera. One was near Saint Jean de Pauvre, and served Alsatian food; the night we chanced in, there was entertainment by an Irish Band, and when they found out we were from KY, they told us that Irish music and Bluegrass were related, and then they did “Turkey in the Straw,” especially for us.
    Another favorite restaurant where we had lunch was in the 6th, can’t recall the name, but the waiter took our picture. Our VERY favorite was Le Grand Courbet, which we discovered BEFORE Jack Nicholsen and Diane Keaton did, where we had lamb chops, and where the waiter followed us out, exclaiming to me, Madame, c’est trop!!! He returned most of the tip I left him. We had no bad food in Paris, and found the Parisians welcoming and charming!

  • Sound perfect and the ice cream sounds amazing! Saving this post for future reference. Cheers!