On Tuesday afternoon I met up with a friend for lunch at Willi's Wine Bar in the 1st arrondissement. This always reliable restaurant has a great wine list, both by the bottle and by the glass, and the food is delicious. In addition, it offers some of Paris' best lunch deals: 19.5€ for 2-courses (starter/main or main/dessert) or 25€ for a 3-course meal. This place is so reliable that it's become something of a pilgrimage for me on all my trips to Paris. I try to stop in at least once during each visit.
The decor is somewhat Art Deco, with old posters for Willi's on the walls (like the one in the picture above). Service is warm and professional, and as I mentioned the food is very good.
We started with appetizers of tuna tartar, deliciously fresh and sans mercury (well, I certainly didn't see any). Since my friend is a heathen and doesn't drink alcohol, I only ordered a glass of 1998 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. I was worried that the wine would need time to air out, but since the bottle had been open the previous night it was ready to go, almost jumping from the glass with beautiful, elegant yet powerful red and black fruits wrapped in a cloak of earth on a plush mouthfeel, ending with a long and just slightly tannic finish. Absolutely surprisingly delicious, and it went amazingly well with my main, a braised jarret de veau (veal knuckle) that was tender and juicy and just scrumptious.
After a lovely espresso (another one in Paris, what's going on?), we parted ways. I had some time to kill, so I ambled across the street to Caves LeGrand Filles et Fils, in one of the old-time, beautiful covered shopping galleries, Galérie Vivienne.
This store/wine bar always offers something interesting for the wine lover, and the staff, while not always the warmest, can usually point you in the right direction. So while I looked at their price book and drooled over some of the legends for sale, I sat at the wine bar and ordered a glass of 2005 Robert Denogent Pouilly Fuisse. Redolent of lemons, almonds and hazelnuts with a minerally backbone on a slightly oily frame, this was just lovely and a perfect way to relax. The bar offers cheeses, cured meats and other snacks, but I wasn't hungry so I just sat, enjoyed the views of bottles lined all over the walls and smiled.
Life is good.
13 rue des petits champs 75001 Paris
Phone: (33) 142610509
Legrand Filles et Fils
1 rue de la Banque
Phone: +33 1 42 60 07 12
Next: Spring in the 9th.