Chez Georgette–My Local Canteen, B-

February 28, 2009

Not surprisingly, people often ask where I go for a good, quick, affordable last minute meal in my own neighborhood, which is the 9th arrondissement in the heart of Paris. I have many local favorites, but the one place that never lets me down is Chez Georgette, a brightly lit little bistro in the rue Saint Georges. Consider that during the last couple of months, I’ve probably eaten here a dozen times, and under quite different circumstances. Last night, I went as part of a band of six–Bruno, two friends visiting from New York and the French couple they’re staying with.

The gang gathered chez nous first for Champagne and nibbles (Auvergnat sausage, caperberries, and a Spanish mixture of deep fried corn kernels and lima beans combined with raisins, peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts). On a Friday night, the gang arrived late, derailing a reservation I’d made elsewhere, so I quickly plucked up the phone and booked us at Chez Georgette at 9.30pm.

Not only were they happy to take us, but this small dining room with tables that were once French elementary school desks (topped with different primary-color Formica) is a cosy, casual spot that works just as well for an unwieldy group of six as it does for a couple or a quartet. The menu’s ideal, too, since they’re always several pastas and salads that make vegetarians happy, and a couple of delicious suggestions du jour. Three of us loved the leek, spinach and potato soup that was the day’s starter suggestion, four of us had only compliments for the daube de boeuf (one of my favorite French dishes, and a great provencal classic of beef braised in red wine) served with paparadelle, and all of us loved the poached fresh figs with almond ice cream. Other dishes that won raves during our meal were the homemade pate en croute served with salad, bavette (skirt steak) with mashed potatoes, and salmon in a light tomato coulis. Knowing we’d likely have a bottle or two, I steered us towards a pleasant, good-value Cotes du Rhone at 24 euros, and it was a perfect party wine.

Popular with bankers and fashion execs from the nearby Galeries Lafayette offices at noon, Georgette (and yes there really is a Georgette–she’s the gentle but bemused proprietaire with the Colette stye bob and red-lollipop framed glasses), it’s always packed with a happy sociological totem pole of bourgeois and bobos in the evening. Great French comfort food and an unfailing good time just a few doors down from chez moi–no wonder I’m so happy living in Paris.

Chez Georgette, 29 rue Saint Georges, 9th, Metro: Trinitee or Notre-Dame-de-Lorette