Although Alain Ducasse might be better known for his uber fine dining spots like Le Meurice or his newly-opened riverboat on the Seine, this bistro has been around since 1932. Once owned by Marthe Allard, and kept in the family for centuries, not much has changed about this charmingly quaint spot in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, since Ducasse’s takeover.
You arrive in a corridor opposite a tiny, semi open kitchen, with two small dining rooms at either end. Tables are minutely close together. The carpeted walls, frilly lampshades and old framed pictures are reminiscent of a Granny’s house.
Bread and butter kicks lunch off; seeded loaf alongside a slice of butter matched in size. A proper portion of butter. God I love France.
“Arnaud Nicholas’ pate en croute’” (€28) is the recipe of the eponymous Michelin-starred butcher cum chef. In France, Arnaud, is a deli mastermind, so it makes sense to include his gorgeous pate, filled with chunks of ham and foie gras encased in buttery pastry, on the menu.
Equally rich; preserved duck foie gras and toasted country bread (€28) is a gorgeous thing to eat. It’s interesting to see New York’s move to introduce a blanket ban on foie gras from 2022. I wonder if France would ever do such a thing…
We go for the roast free range chicken to share (€42 per person) which sees chunks of the bird sitting in a puddle of the most delicious gravy. The blend of insanely crisp skin and moist bird takes real skill from the kitchen. A side of small potatoes (€8), or ‘Grenoille potato cocotte’, is so moreishly oily and salty, we devour every single last one.
For pud, profiteroles (€12) come with a separate chocolate sauce which sits above a pot of boiling water to keep it runny. The chocolate is fruity and sharp yet sweet and indulgent.
Ill flotante, or floating island (€10), is masterfully light. For those of you yet to try this dish of poached meringue bobbing in a bowl of cold custard, what are you doing?! Get yourself down to Brasserie Zédel in London’s Picadilly and order it, pronto.
Allard is the perfect French restaurant. It exudes charm and Gallic character from every surface. Most importantly, the food isn’t fussy or poncy. They cook the classics, they cook them well and that is why you must go.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant