Le Bon Georges

 

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

Many of what are called the “new” bistros of Paris are actually just restaurants with hip young chefs painting plates with a straight line of sauce, adding some powdered radishes and a shiso leaf next to pieces of pork belly, or doing the “line-up” of food (ie: a smear of root vegetable puree down the center of the plate, with herb leaves, flowers, a dice of vegetables, and three pieces of meat). The word bistro means “quick”, harking back to a time in the early 1800s when occupying Russians soldiers would pound on the tables shouting “Bystro!” imploring the servers to more food and drink – and to do it faster.

So it’s nice to walk into a place that is simply a Parisian bistro that doesn’t have aspirations to be something else. Even though speed isn’t what they’re known for nowadays, bistros are still beloved by many because they serve unpretentious food in casual, sometimes well-worn, surroundings. They take people back to a time when dining was about eating well without feeling self-conscious about it, and you didn’t have to worry about being served a plate of food with so much going on that you can’t discern what the main ingredient in it is.

But truth be told, I don’t really go out to eat all that much. Mostly it’s because I like to cook. I get a lot of enjoyment roaming around the market, checking out what’s available at the stands, from ripe strawberries and wedges of oozing brie de Meaux, to bulbs of purple spring garlic (that invariably find their way into my mortar and pestle for a batch of aïoli), and ending with a stop at the charcuterie for a slab of terrine de canard with figs or perhaps a few links of herb sausages, to make a nice lunch for ourselves at home.

(Although I’ll confess that often my thoughts are on the rôtisserie parked outside the butcher shop that I know I’ll pass on the way home, loaded up with chickens sporting a crackly skin, which is holding in the juicy, tender meat underneath. Carrying the warm bag home, knowing what’s inside, makes me walk extra-fast to get home. And no matter how much I’ve bought at the market, I’ll tear into that chicken bag as soon as I get in the front door, setting my market haul aside while I yank off the skin and chow down on the poulet rôti, starting with the crispy wings, and not stopping until I realize that lunch is actually still two hours away.)

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

On the other hand, I live in Paris and in addition to easy access to spit-roasted chicken, and outdoor markets, there are lots of restaurants that need to be checked out. I’m often disappointed in some of the newer places, where the chefs are working hard to be creative or “make their mark,” but not necessarily putting the customer experience first. Chef and restaurant owners should think about what it’s actually like to sit down as a guest and eat the food. That’s what running a restaurant is all about. I just want good food, prepared and served by competent people who take pride in what they’re doing, whether it’s a falafel sandwich, a roasted chicken, or a fancy, three-star dinner.

Tastes have certainly changed, but the emergence of Le Bon Georges, which has gotten a lot of accolades, makes it clear that people still hunger for the classic Parisian bistro. And for good, honest food prepared by a staff that cares.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

Owner Benoît Duval-Arnould has managed to reinvigorate the Parisian bistro, making it relevant to today by carefully sourcing his ingredients from the best French producers. Benoît grew up on a farm and while he spent a few years working for an American-based food company, he left that world to go back to his roots and focus on the quality of farm-fresh ingredients, incorporating them into the bistro genre.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

The beef is carefully sourced from Polmard and vegetables are from Terroirs d’Avenir or Joël Thiébaut, where many of the hot-shot chefs, and Parisians who live in the swanky 16th arrondissement, get their vegetables.

We ducked in for lunch recently and were sat at one of the warmly worn wooden tables. Because we both had impending dental appointments that afternoon, we split a glass of white wine, and I started with Œufs mimosa, a contemporary take on Deviled Eggs, which came out deconstructed with finely diced egg whites and a barely cooked yolk floating on top, next to a pile of flaked bonito.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

Alongside were mounds of Dijon mustardy mayonnaise (and yup, a straight line of more Dijon mayonnaise, with herbs and leaves), all meant to be mixed and scooped up onto the excellent baguettes that they serve.

Being a Frenchman, Romain wanted beef. And since it came with frites maison, housemade French fries, I didn’t stop him from ordering the Steak haché. At Le Bon Georges, they twice-fry the frites, which Benoît told me are different every day because of the potatoes. Some days, he said, the fries will be nicely bronzed. Other days, they’ll take longer to cook and resist crisping up. Since the potatoes arrive daily, with the rest of the produce from small farms, it’s hard to standardize how they’ll cook up. But we didn’t leave any behind this time. (Heads up: If you dine with me, I always dive to the bottom for the crispy ones, before anyone else can get them. Romain hasn’t caught on to that yet…)

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

For steak lovers, at dinner or lunch, you can order Bœuf Polmard, a thick-cut steak served with those frites maison or, uncommon for Paris, a vegetable side. They change daily but we had roasted sweet carrots with lunch as well as the fries. Other times I’ve dined here, the chalkboard menu listed roasted leeks, fennel or beets as options.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

The Steak haché clocks in at 250 grams (about 8 ounces) worth of ground beef. But it’s not ordinary ground beef. The beef is aged, also uncommon in Paris, and three different cuts are used to make up the patty.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

While I don’t always advise people ordering Steak tartare unless you know the place takes appropriate care of the meat so it’s of the highest quality and freshness, at Le Bon Georges, it’s one of the places that I wouldn’t worry about it. And a few diners nearby weren’t concerned either as they dug into a big mound of the raw beef, loaded up with mustard, capers, and the other appropriate condiments.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

I ordered the Poulet chasseur (Hunter’s Chicken) for my main course, made with coucou de Rennes, a flavorful chicken which the server told me had very firm flesh – and they were right. It was un peu dur. While some might be fine with that, I’ll stick with the beef and fish dishes.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

On another visit, I tasted a Poitrine du cochon (pork belly), that was meltingly soft, and ordered a slab of Bonito for myself, that was served over a plate of freshly sautéed spring vegetables.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

On this instance, because we were both had a few hours in the dentist chair facing each of us, we went light on dessert. My (dining) partner isn’t a fan of rice pudding, so we sadly skipped the Riz au lait and ordered the house-made Paris-Brest, which came out as three huge, very rich mounds of hazelnut praline-filled pâte au choux puffs, accompanied by small cups of very strong, richly dark coffee from L’Arbre à Café.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

Like most items on the menu, the desserts change daily, depending on what’s in season. I’ve had raspberry tarts on a buttery sablé (shortbread) cookie, as well as a very dark, unadorned (just the way I like it) Mousse au chocolat, a creamy chocolate bomb that had the husky taste of cocoa powder as a backdrop to the bittersweet chocolate.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro-Paris-Brest

For tourists and visitors looking for a place where there aren’t any tourists, or visitors, I was the only American in the place at lunch. But dinner is a mix of everyone and as I always say, if you’re a visitor and you don’t want to go to any restaurants where there are other visitors – well, I hope people don’t feel the same way about you – or me!

The staff is great and friendly to everyone. Like most bistros and restaurants in Paris, they’re busy, so don’t expect to be on the first-name basis with your server. But they will help you decide what to order and keep your wine glasses filled. (Unless you have a dentist appointment just afterward.) However even if they are busy, you’ll find that they’re sharp and witty if you catch them in a rare moment when they aren’t rushing around the always-full dining room.

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro

Le Bon Georges
45, rue Saint-Georges (9th)
Tél: 01 48 78 40 30
(Reservations strongly recommended.)
Metro: Saint-Georges

Le Bon Georges Paris Bistro


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42 comments

  • July 8, 2015 3:06pm

    If there are no Americans now there soon will be….
    And I will go too, next time in Paris – thank you for this great recommendation!

    • Heather
      July 8, 2015 5:45pm

      We were just there (as Americans) two weeks ago!!! It was an amazing dining experience! It was a good thing it was our last night, because it didn’t even come close to comparing to some of the restaurants we ate at (which were amazing in their own way)! If you go, make reservations right away! This little gem was right across from the apartment we rented and we tried to get in there the first night, but we couldn’t until our last night…it is that popular and good! Highly recommend it!

  • Susanne
    July 8, 2015 3:13pm

    Love to see such a nice review of Le Bon Georges on your webiste. I went to eat here a year ago after reading some lovely things about it and it was perfect. Loved the atmosphere. It was fully booked and we did make reservations for lunch. Had the lunchmenu which was very reasonably priced. I will definetly go here again when I’ll be in Paris again.
    I also went to Clamato that week which was also definetly a place to return to!

  • Claire
    July 8, 2015 3:20pm

    You have their address as 4 rue Saint-Georges, but their website says the address is “45”.

    It’s 8:20 in the morning here in Austin and I’m salivating at the food in your photos! Fab photos by the way. Will definitely put this lovely bistro on my list for my next visit. Merci!

  • July 8, 2015 4:30pm

    Trends in France? I never thought the French succumbed to the seduction of trends or fads – here today gone tomorrow 

    I think the whole pretentious dressing up of food thing has a lot to do with the Instagram generation. We are all so busy pretending to live weirdly wonderful lives that we hope will turn our friends green with envy if they ever stumbled on our food photos. I guess any up and coming chef would be under enormous pressure to meet that need. Food is not just to be consumed anymore. It is a status symbol, and the way it is presented could turn it from a mere Russian made lada (no offence to Russians) into a flaming red Ferrari. I guess that explains the whole “painting plates with sauce” phenomenon.

    This is my feeling though: As someone once said “classics never make a comeback. They wait for that perfect moment to take the spotlight from overdone, tired trends”

    • june2
      July 9, 2015 7:18pm

      I’ve never seen it that way, as a competition and etc…I’ve always thought people were so happy about sharing the good fortune and joy of enjoying whatever the chef prepared with such love and inspiration. Everyone is generally so thrilled to have discovered the deliciousness and beautiful flavors of local/seasonal/organic or whatever that it is incredibly inspiring and joyful to share that good fortune with others who also appreciate it. I’m sure there are people out there who are concerned with ‘the status of their food shots’ but I really think the over-riding mood is about SHARING what they love and appreciate out of inspiration and creativity.

      • Sandi
        July 20, 2015 10:58am

        I choose your point of view. Far less depressing for one, besides, what do the morivations of the person posting pictures have to do with the inspiration of the chef(s)?

    • jeffro
      July 9, 2015 7:21pm

      Everyone knows it’s incredibly fun to play with your food…don’t be so jaded!

  • July 8, 2015 5:14pm
    David Lebovitz

    cuisinedeprovence: The word is out on most good places in Paris, so there’s usually a mix of everyone, from locals to visitors/tourists in virtually any good restaurant in Paris. It’s a nice mix.

    Claire: Oops. Thanks, I fixed that.

    Nii: Fads and trends like verrines (food served in glasses), smears, and slate plates are popular in some quarters of Paris, but you’re right that classics usually triumph over tricks and trends in the long term.

    • July 8, 2015 7:30pm

      Ah the slate plates…lol

      In London we call it hipster food, patronised by folks with long, but extremely well groomed beards and a lot of disposable income who detest what the world is doing to the ozone layer…

      Please do come back to London soon. A quick search on your London posts suggests you are probably due a visit :) Our trend here is “street food” now. :)

      Love your blog!

  • July 8, 2015 5:20pm

    Your photos are just jumping out at me. The food looks sooo delicious!
    This restaurant is now on my list for my next visit…soon, I hope…before others discover it.

  • Trish
    July 8, 2015 5:32pm

    Mmmmmm. Putting this on my list for next time. I really enjoy reading all your posts. Thank you so much.

  • Lynn Ziglar
    July 8, 2015 5:54pm

    Just with such flair, never with a thud! Thank you

  • Esmee
    July 8, 2015 6:07pm

    Be careful with that delicious rotisserie chicken, David! I did just as you described: tore into that chicken and set the rest of my stuff aside… and ended up tossing away my cell phone in the greasy bag of bones!

  • marian
    July 8, 2015 6:17pm

    We will be in Paris in September and will try this restaurant. On their website the food has c degrees after it. Why?

    • July 8, 2015 6:48pm
      David Lebovitz

      That’s the euro sign, €, which denotes the prices on the menu.

  • July 8, 2015 6:31pm

    “…bistros are still beloved by many because they serve unpretentious food in casual, sometimes well-worn, surroundings. They take people back to a time when dining was about eating well without feeling self-conscious about it, and you didn’t have to worry about being served a plate of food with so much going on that you can’t discern what the main ingredient in it is.”
    – I am so going to use this. Been trying to say this this well forever. :)

  • Lilia
    July 8, 2015 6:36pm

    Merci, David for this article. We had lunch at Le Bon Georges on our last visit as recommended by Perfectly Paris. The food was great and the service was fantastic. Our server was there explaining everything to us – true to your post. I will take my sister there when I go with her this Fall.

  • Bob
    July 8, 2015 7:06pm

    any idea how your dessert, Paris-Brest got its name? A long time ago there was a bike race from Paris to Brest and back. It’s now a randonee.

    • Li-hsia Wang
      July 8, 2015 10:01pm

      The Paris-Brest pastry used to be round, with smaller puffs around the edge, and named after a bicycle wheel…

  • Bev
    July 8, 2015 7:52pm

    The food here sounds delicious – can’t wait to try it! Glad to hear you can get a reasonably priced lunch, because I thought that 5,50 euros for a tea was pretty extortionate!

    • July 8, 2015 8:13pm
      David Lebovitz

      The price for a pot of tea at a corner café is around €4,50 and higher at a tea salon. So for a restaurant in Paris, that’s about right. I think tea drinkers may get dinged over coffee drinkers, since there are more “accoutrements” involved in tea, and they tend to linger ; )

  • Sarahb1313
    July 8, 2015 10:06pm

    Nice photos- really captures that “authentic” bistro feel! But the Paris-Brest, that’s just mean and teasing! My favorite!!!
    If you ever have the hankering to make the hazelnut pastry cream and share a recipe, I will be patiently waiting! Or a good hazelnut mousse, that would work too!!

  • Anne in Kensington
    July 9, 2015 12:04am

    Gorgeous! Will head there next time we’re in Paris. Quick question aside: where did you get your brown pottery salt cellar? I have a set of these canisters from about 40 years ago and would love to find a current source to add to it.

  • Cathy
    July 9, 2015 2:00am

    I didn’t know aged beef wasn’t common there. How long do they hang it for usually?

  • Janet
    July 9, 2015 2:37am

    Love your reviews David. Keep them coming!

  • July 9, 2015 5:10am

    Sorry to be repeating what most have said already, that I’m putting this on my eat-at places when next there. I go to Paris once every two years or so—a visit is due! Note to self: Make that reservation!

  • rebecca
    July 9, 2015 5:27am

    Can’t agree with you more re the “hip” bistros (which I will avoid at all cost)!

    Thanks for the reviews (and good to know that it takes reservation).

  • July 9, 2015 6:23am

    such beautiful food. the french fries alone are enough to die for.

  • Colin
    July 9, 2015 9:34am

    Hmm not really impressed, and the frites appear to be rather crude. Best frites I have had in the world were in Paris. Prices seem high for a local bistro in the 9th so I presume they are trading on tourists and well heeled locals.
    I love “secret” restaurants which are local and you can tell them by both the quality of the food and the clientele including the sparsity of tourists. Paris used to have some 20 secret restaurants some 15 years ago but I presume the constant use of social networks have revealed and destroyed most of them.

  • July 9, 2015 5:20pm
    David Lebovitz

    Cathy: Beef in France isn’t usually aged since it’s expensive (when you remove moisture from beef, it concentrates flavor but there’s less of it to sell, so it gets sold at a higher price) and it takes space to age beef, so it’s not normally done. There was a good article about the beef served in French restaurants, that explains it a bit more.

    Colin: For a three course meal here, it would be about €45 without beverages (which includes tax and tip.) Prices have gone up in Paris the last few years in general and there are places you can eat cheaper, but they are buying their beef and vegetables from small producers, hence the somewhat higher prices.

    Anne in Kensington: You can buy those at some of the restaurant supply shops in Les Halles. I would try A. Simon.

  • July 12, 2015 6:51pm

    This sounds amazing. My husband & will be in Paris for 5 days in August with our daughter who’s 10months & hoping we can try some of these places! We live in Stockholm, Sweden where it’s okay to take little ones… Wondering what the cultures like in Paris for taking small ones to restaurants? Thanks for tips & great posts

  • Anne
    July 12, 2015 8:47pm

    This question is unrelated to this post but I’m unclear how I might otherwise contact you.

    I’ve been making your vanilla ice cream recipe. When the egg mixture is added to the milk, you indicate to heat it until it coats the spatula. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely clear to this novice. Is it possible you could provide a temperature? I don’t want anyone to get sick from eggs being undercooked. Other recipes I’ve noticed say 175 degrees.

    Your thoughts?

    • July 12, 2015 9:08pm
      David Lebovitz

      I discuss that in my book, The Perfect Scoop, in depth, but yes – 175ºF is a safe temperature to cook eggs to. (Generally 160ºF kills most bacteria, but for richness, the ice cream base is better cooked longer.)

      • Anne
        July 12, 2015 9:10pm

        Thanks for your reply. I have one of your books but not the ice cream book. And I visited your site for the recipe. Thus the uncertainty.

        Appreciate your time and response.

  • July 13, 2015 1:45pm

    Oh what a great-looking place. I particularly liked that deconstructed eggs mimosa (and if we dine together anytime soon, I will fight you to the death for the crispy fries at the bottom!) ;)

  • v. j. kohout
    July 13, 2015 5:24pm

    I do the same thing, fish out the crispy frites. Why are they always at the bottom of the pile? Didn’t realize that until you said it.

  • Le Bon Georges
    July 15, 2015 7:00am

    What a disappointment for 6 of us. Boeuf Poulard was tough and tasteless as was the duck, fries were soggy & oily, string beans & zucchini overcooked and tasteless, cold desserts took 45 minutes to serve and were also tasteless. Some of us were still hungry because portions were small. We were trying to enjoy the meal but couldn’t and the ambiance was missing also. Service friendly but poor. We would choose le Severo for delicious steak frites and everything else, not Le Bon Georges. p.s. Wine was ok and coffee hot & good.

  • July 15, 2015 10:26am

    i am scheduling a holiday vacation to paris very soon. as i love the food and presentation of food in paris. actually i am a bit foody type person.

  • Michelle Moore
    July 18, 2015 11:55pm

    On your recommendation we had dinner here Friday night, and were absolutely delighted, for all the reasons you describe. I was very tempted to try the tartare, since you have sadly not responded to my invitation to lunch at Chez Dumonnet, but my husband just wasn’t into it. So I had the steak, and was very glad. Best steak I have had in Paris, after 7 visits. Thanks for a great recommendation.

  • Ski_Zakopane
    July 22, 2015 8:12am

    Great photos! Thanks a lot for recommendation!