Searching for market to table French cuisine in Paris can be a challenge. Many claim bragging rights but few are the real deal. Truly off the beaten path, Bistrot Ernest is one of the best examples of good food, made simply from fresh ingredients, sourced from local markets.
The daily menu is written on a sandwich board but by dinner the most popular items, like the vegetarian lasagna, are usually 86’d (restaurant lingo for gone, done, we have no more). Regular lunch diners at Ernest know to order now or endure plate envy at dinner. Yes, there are double dippers, those who eat both lunch and dinner there on the same day. It’s that good!
Owner Thibault Lhironelle is an entrepreneur at heart. He co-managed my favorite wine and cheese shop on Île Saint-Louis, named Le 38 Saint Louis before resurrecting his father’s bistrot in the café loving 6th arrondissement of Paris. Because Thibault has kept the 38SL connection, he serves fabulous and interesting cheeses and tasty but affordable wines at the restaurant.
The tiniest kitchen in Paris (well it looks that way to me) serves the most tender Scottish beef with beautiful seasonal organic vegetables you can imagine. I am also quite fond of his vegetarian menu options. Killer mixed salad greens with vine-ripened tomatoes; egg omelets and legume specials all top my list of “must try” dishes.
You’ll go for the authentic and organic fresh market to table cuisine, but you will return because of the artsy décor (poster art, books lining the shelves above the tables, old photographs) and the genuine hospitality Thibault exudes. The tables are few but turn over pretty quickly. If you have to wait a few minutes, let Thibault help you select a glass of wine at the petit stand up bar. If you are feeling more adventurous, ask him to pull out his stash of incredible rums from the islands for a smooth awakening to the taste buds.
My only reservation writing the review is that you will flock to my hidden little gem off the Seine and I will have to elbow my way in upon return. Seriously, and Thibault do not go getting a big head over this review. Stay sweet and charming!
21 rue de Seine, 75006 Paris
Closed Saturday night, all day Sunday and Monday