I made my way to the 9th arrondissement last week to try the beef tartare and gratin Dauphinoise at Le Bon Georges. This bistro dances very closely towards the line between traditional and trendy, but stays mostly on the traditional side. Just looking at it from the street, however, it still stands out from any other Parisian bistro.
As pictured, the décor of Le Bon Georges includes elements such as midnight blue walls, plants, firefly lights, and retro paintings. Paris had many ambiances, and this one falls into what I would call the Absinthe category – A little bit mystical and slightly nostalgic (if you have ever experienced the can-can ride at Europa park, you know exactly what I wish to express). I was there at noon, but I found myself wishing that the sun was setting because I imagine this “Absinthe” effect is intensified at night.
I was eager to see the menu because it did not appear on the website – and shortly, I understood why. It was a chalkboard menu, perhaps remade every day or every week, seemingly dependent on the chef’s whims. From this I understood that the ingredients are probably very fresh, that the chef is especially creative, and that regulars at Le Bon Georges do not get bored.
The Gratin Dauphinoise is not on the summer menu, as I had feared, but I was still able to get close by taking the pommes dauphin as a side to my steak tartare. Upon ordering the tartare, the server explained to me that it would not be a typical steak tartare – the beef is so tender that they serve it in organic pieces rather than cut pieces. And, to prevent distraction from the quality of the meat, the only seasoning would be salt and pepper.
All of the warnings about the tartare were delightfully correct. As pictured, the meat is torn into differently shaped pieces according to its natural composition. The taste of it was just of pure, good meat. These factors make this dish is a vegetarian’s nightmare – you are very aware that you are eating an animal here, because there are no bells or whistles to cover up the fact. It was a cool dish and I feel like I have a better sense of taste for beef after eating (almost) the whole thing. Personally, however, I would prefer there to be more seasoning (like the salad, for example, which had a lovely dressing). Die-hard meat lovers would not want to change a thing.
I may not have gotten to taste the gratin dauphinoise, but I still got to have a heavenly potato experience at Le Bon Georges. The side came in a cute copper dish, and was essentially an excellent version of typical American hash browns. Like the beef, there was no flashy seasoning, just very well done potatoes with lots of butter.
My favorite part of my lunch at Le Bon Georges came as a lovely surprise with my post-meal coffee. It was just an ordinary coffee, and to be honest, the brew did not taste great. But the cookie that they brought on the side! It was just a regular little biscuit, but it was the best regular little biscuit I have ever had. Buttery, soft and crumbly, so simple but I swear there was a tiny bit of cinnamon or something else that was interesting hidden deep inside.
I asked the server if they were made in-house, and he said yes. At the beginning of each day, they make little sweets to accompany the coffee. Then to my delight, he brought me a small foil-wrapped package filled with little cookies!
I enjoyed these on the train back to Lausanne. Now that I ran out, I better get back to Le Bon Georges sometime soon. I’ll need to keep checking the menu for the gratin dauphinoise anyways, as well as see the absinthe atmosphere at night!