A sister bar of the booked out months in advance Septime restaurant across the road, and one of the tiniest wine bars around, this was one of the highlights of the trip. We arrived here around 7.45 pm to find it empty. Apparently we were just in time as by 8:15 it was so full there were people standing outside and we were smuggly propped up on our corner bar stools munching on lardo di colonnata. They serve small plates of charcuterie and the like along with a selection of glasses and bottles of wine. The rilletes we tried here were by far the best I’e ever had. Bonus points for the Aesop handsoap in the bathroom.
Clamato is a seafood restaurant run by the people behind Septime from the premises next door. It doesn’t take bookings, and is open on Sunday, a bit of a rarety in Paris. I’d heard nothing but good things about it from all the reviews so expectations were high, which it unfortunately did not live up to. We may have ordered badly, but barring an incredible okonomiyaki with octopus, our dishes were not very impressive. The boulots (sea snails) with curry mayonnaise seemed like a bit of a gimmick. They were cold and rubbery, and just tasted like really bland snails crossed with really bland mussels. They seemed to be a bit of a trend in Paris at the moment, we saw them a few other places too. The mayonnaise was gorgeous though, rich and thick and definitely home-made. We also got an underwhelming but very pretty scallop and watercress dish. We finished off with a red cabbage and samphire salad that was rendered inedible by being incredibly oversalted. We later noticed the salads being thrown together in a fairly slapdash manner behind the counter, which explained it. We didn’t risk dessert after, and instead wandered off in the direction of the Baron Rouge.
The big regret of the holiday was that we never actually ate in Clown Bar, except for a cheese plate. A wine bar/restaurant that stays open until 2am, we visited twice for nightcaps of glorious natural wine. It’s located beside the Cirque d’Hiver (winter circus) and features a fin de siecle interior decorated with clowns, which is far more lovely then it sounds (all the bars around here are circus themed). It’s the kind of place where the staff treat you as a regular if you visit twice, and actually seem to enjoy working there. The place just has a great buzz about it, even on a Sunda. They had a great playlist going both nights which combined jazz with 80s new wave and 90s hip hop. The menu looked absolutely incredible, this would definitely be my first place to visit if and when I go back to Paris.
Something of an institution according to the guide books, the Baron Rouge is an old school wine bar next to the Marche d’Aligre which serves very reasonably priced glasses of wine along with plates of charcuterie and fresh oysters. It’s more of a daytime/evening place (it closes at 10pm) and we only just made it in for last orders. I immediately got a glass of red wine poured all over my coat, and within seconds the barman had doused a clothe in white wine and was diligently removing the stain (always thought that was an old wives tale but it really did work). This is exactly the kind of Edith Piaf song place you imagine Paris is filled with, but rarely actually manage to find. You can also fill up bottles to take away from the barrels for a ludicrously reasonable price.
The Marais on a Sunday always seems like a good idea until you’re there. The idea of a bustling place where the shops actually open is nice, then you arrive and every street is packed to the gills with people with the same idea. We ended up wandering for thirty minutes trying to find a place to sit down and have a rest (I was still recovering from the broken foot). Somehow, we stumbled on a perfect and nearly empty wine bar/bookshop called La Belle Hortense right in the midst of it, and settled in. With a lovely old zinc bar to sit at, and a hefty selection of wines, it was a great place to escape from the crowds and while away an afternoon. They also serve food from the cafe across the street.