Walking down the rue Bailleul is like walking through a piece of Parisian history. From the hidden auberges where you can almost hear Joseph Kessel devouring a coq au vin with his friend Henri Torres, to the narrow staircases chipped away by the rapid footsteps of the painter François Dubois trying to escape the bells of Saint-Barthelemy. Basically not a street you want to walk down with the tiring Laurent Deutsch.

The street has since had quite a makeover, making it seem far from its dusty past. Piège’s Clover Grill, Spring’s Buvette, and the most recent addition: La Vieille, taken over by the American chef Daniel Rose. An auberge that used to be run by Madame Adrienne, aka La Vieille. Get it? We won’t talk about Jacques Chirac’s legendary tête de veau, L. Deutsh can tell you all about it. In this auberge, you are called Monsieur followed by your first name. 

After looking at the menu, you realize that they clearly want to keep the same spirit. Morteau sausage and cabbage, “bulot mayo”(sea snails and mayonnaise), foie gras and lentils, the Bouillon de la vieille, the Blanquette de la vieille, and the petit pot de crème, or pot of custard. Efficient and delicious. Basically the opposite of that era. And in the plate, everything falls just right. The classic herring and potatoes put all the other neighboring herring and potatoes to shame.

The veal blanquette makes us wonder why we don’t make blanquette anymore. And the little pot de crème is exactly what it should be: a dangerous encounter between the cream and the spoon, which slowly dips itself into the pot and lets itself get sucked all the way down to the bottom, where it is left lifeless. The cream must win, and that’s the case here, with a KO. 

The set up of the auberge is quite inexplicable. While the bar area is well done, the upstairs, with its purple loungy tones, sends a shiver down your spine. You go from Joseph Kessel to Nabila Benattia. Complete confusion. It was probably some American architect with bad taste’s idea (in fact, I met him). I am pretty sure La Vieille wouldn’t have liked it. But who cares, we will just stay at the bar and talk to Kessel, Torres and Chirac, and those who wish to speak to Laurent Deutsch can go upstairs.

S P L

©Heidinger Jean-Marie 

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