Restaurants

Bofinger: a brillant ballet

This grand brasserie around the corner of Place de la Bastille has had some harsh reviews. Critics have been severe with the quality of the food, with the uninspired kitchen style – but honestly, they’ve got it all wrong. You don’t go to Le Bofinger to have memorable food, you go there to have an enchanting, brillant evening in Paris, and that kind of satisfaction is guaranteed. In fact, there aren't many places in the city that are more romantic than this one. The ballet of the waiters, the mirrors on the walls, the benches lined with leather, the bourgeois customers coming over for a late dinner after a night at the Bastille opera – it’s all there, it’s all yours, and it’s up to you to be enchanted.

Like in Balzac novel

Founded way back in the 19th century, you can still feel the great tradition of hospitality at work. The décor makes you think of film adaptions of great Balzac novels, but it’s all for real, the crystal glasses and the glossy wood, the amazing cupola crafted during the Belle Epoque. You’ll find wooden creaking stairways leading to dark, elegant dining rooms upstairs that have seen scores of celebrities. Have a beer here and dream of the splendour of the old days, or drink a Kir while thinking of the very first beer pumps that were installed here or the times when electric light was all the rage.

Not the cooked, but the raw

And you can come for some excellent food, too. It’s true, the more meals need cooking here, the more you will be disappointed. You can find a better choucroute elsewhere in Paris. But when it's cold, from autumn to spring, Le Bofinger will serve you a "plateau de fruits de mer" of a quality second to none. This is what Bofinger is all about: it’s about raw seafood, about perfect oysters, mussels, shrimps, lobsters, praire and bulots. And once the waiter has lifted a huge tub filled with crushed ice and tons of shellfish onyo your table, you’re either a fool – or you’re very, very happy. Then it might be time to order a bottle of Ruinart champagne.

Le Bofinger
5-7, rue de la Bastille
75004 Paris
00 33 (0)1.42.72.87.82.
Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner
Métro: Bastille  

Photos:
Alsace in Paris