I went to Les Tontons one weekday lunchtime to kill time and mark books in a more agreeable setting, as well as just generally having a more upmarket lunch than I usually have. I had reserved in advance, but it turned out there was no need: apart from a few old blokes sitting at the bar, there was nobody else there when I arrived (at 12.30, if I remember rightly). The proprietor also greeted me by my first name (which I had put into the online reservation form at TopTable.com), which, I assure you, is highly unusual. This therefore foxed me a bit, but at the same time I also quite liked it.

Chosen for its affordable, traditional menu and its proximity to my work, it’s true that Les Tontons is on a busy road, so perhaps not the most tranquil setting. However, the sun was shining and you do get a view of the Parc Georges Brassens, which is just across the street. I went for their set menu, which, if I recall correctly, came to just €18. It may have even been less than that (I’ll let you know if I ever manage to dig out the receipt). It also accepted a restaurant voucher (or “ticket resto”) or two that I had in my purse, so also handy for those working in the area (though to be fair, most places do take these).

I plumped for the “main and dessert” option and ordered a carafe of tap water to go with it. I didn’t have to wait too long at all and service was generally attentive, except towards the end of my meal, where I ended up going to the bar to get my bill (not sure whether this is standard practice in these kinds of places, though). While I was waiting, though, I got to admire my surroundings: the traditional French decor was enhanced by Bugsy Malone-style crime scene photographs, and quotations from French luminaries scrawled across walls. Traditional with a twist – just what I like.

I had ordered a ‘bavette’, which is basically the flank cut of beef, and like in any half decent French restaurant, I was asked how I wanted it cooked (and, furthermore, when it arrived it was cooked exactly to my taste). It came with a basic green salad and some adequate chips, but the star of the show was really the “sauce au poivre” which, although rather liquidy, proved excellent for dipping the meat into. I chased all of this down with a reasonably-priced, yet still just average glass of Côte du Rhône.

Dessert was less promising: the cherry tart was more cake than cherries and the colour of the sauce that came with it was practically luminous, which did not do much to instil confidence. Indeed, the disparity between the quality of the main course and the quality of the dessert was really quite surprising. I followed it up with a coffee: as mentioned in previous posts, this is generally a mistake due to my ongoing love affair with my Odea Go. Perhaps as expected, it too was mediocre.

As mentioned, I had to go to the bar for my bill, rather than having it brought to my table (the restaurant had filled up significantly during the time of my meal). The bill was settled swiftly and with quite uncharacteristic friendliness, but the shine was taken off the thing by the fact of small bowls of Haribo being placed along the bar. Nuts or mints give a better impression and are more appropriate accompaniments or ends to a drink or meal. But Haribo? Really?

At €18 for a main, dessert and glass of wine, I’d say this came in at great value – especially for a Parisian venue. While perhaps next time I would not bother with dessert (a first for me – believe me!), I would definitely return for the warm atmosphere, convenient location, and excellent bavettes.

73 rue de Brancion, 75015 PARIS

01 45 33 87 22

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