Astier: In a time warp

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Reviewed on 07/13/2010 | No Reviews

“Plus francais et tu meurs!” – that’s what French people say when they sit down in a bistro like Astier in Paris, a picturesque little restaurant complete with chequered tablecloth, l’ardoise (that’s a chalkboard) and even original Laguiole knives on display on the wall. The experienced traveller could shy away and with good reason: beware, this could be a tourist trap as well! But don’t fear: here, at Astier, in a street named after Jean-Pierre Timbaud (who was a unionist and a freedom fighter ) you’re in good hands. This is not about fake ambiance, it’s about tradition.

Monsieur and Madame Astier opened their bistro back in the 1950′s, and le cadre, the setting, hasn’t really changed ever since. You feel like you’re entering a time warp when you walk in, the waiters look like actors starring in a film adaption of a Proust novel. Fortunately, the kitchen style has changed, and it was the great chef Yannick Alléno of the three-star-temple Le Meurice who once named Astier as his favourite bistro in Paris.

Yes, the good old friends are all still there: foie gras and terrine de sanglier, harengs fumés and dos de cabillaud, poulet rôti and rognons de veau (veal kidneys!), but the man in the kitchen, Christophe Kestler, knows that we’re not living in the 1950′s anymore. You could put it this way: the menu sounds old-fashioned but the approach is cautiously modern. The old classics are lighter than the originals were, and Kestler is capable of adding new twists to good old fare. If you’re lucky enough to spot his tartare de daurade amongst the daily special starters, go for it! But if you feel like going for the real thing, the generous and perfectly prepared entrecôte Charolais will not disappoint you.

It’s bistro cuisine, which means: it’s not rocket science, it’s just good, product-centered, comforting cooking that lets you take a holiday from the demanding challenges of today’s world cuisine where so many chefs try to surprise and overwhelm you all the time. Here, at Astier, you can relax and eat properly and the French way, which makes it a real favourite.

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Astier: In a time warp, 3.6 out of 5 based on 5 ratings

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