He started out with the “Terroir Parisien” menu, then launched a book with the same title and this year opened the namesake bistro that uses products exclusively from the Ile-de-France region.
The background: the first restaurants to open in Paris after the French Revolution used ingredients from the surrounding areas. It was only after the great recession in the 20th century that they began, at the government’s urging, to bring in products from further afield in order to spur growth.
Today, adopting the logic of a ‘return to the future’, Alléno opened Le Terroir Parisien and is planning to shortly set up his own farm.
The bistro is located in the Latin Quarter, within the Maison de la Mutualité, its decor influenced by the modernist movement. Simple, clean lines and attractive presentation of the fresh ingredients that arrive daily in the kitchen help you relax and get in the right mood. Open every day, it serves from breakfast to dinner.
The menu, as expected, varies with the season and availability of ingredients. At lunchtime yesterday, for example, it had several soups with fresh vegetables, marvellously aromatic, which soothed my stomach after some peccadilloes in London over the weekend. A conscious effort has been made to simplify traditional French cuisine and accentuate the aromas and raw ingredients; the result is that even the salads are interesting. But there is also evidence of playfulness: the sausage with puree is presented as a hot dog in a paper carton. Of course abstraction has its limits; sometimes you feel like sending the dish back and asking for a little more sauce. Besides, where are you going to dip the wonderful bread they serve? And whilst on the subject, two bread-based dishes, the croque-monsieur and brioche perdue, are indeed sweetly sinful.
The service is very friendly and relaxed, the prices very reasonable and the wine list satisfactory. But ultimately, what is most important and the thing you take with you when leaving, is the concept of all-day food based on local cuisine and fresh ingredients sourced from the region, with a forward-looking orientation, all at good prices. And this concept is not only useful but necessary in every city, whether it be Paris, London or Athens. What’s more, it is totally in line with the spirit of the times.
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