28 Place de la Bourse,
Phone: +01 83 92 20 30
I’ve eaten more than my fair share of tarte tatin in France and beyond, and I simply can’t find one that comes close to Yannick Alleno’s take at Terroir Parisien at the Palais Brongniart, near the French Stock Exchange. What makes this classic upside down apple tart so tricky to make is that it either comes out moist and dewy with a respectively (and tragically) dewy crust, or with a crispy crust and dried-out apples. But Alleno nails it, producing beautifully caramelized apples on a perfectly flaky bottom. I guess we shouldn’t expect less from the chef who earned three Michelin stars at Le Meurice, but Terroir Parisien is a decidedly dressed down Alleno.
But let’s back up for a minute. After all, Terroir Parisien is a bistro, not a bakery or patisserie, which wheels and deals in artisanal charcuterie first and foremost. There’s all sorts of sausages, pates, terrines, and the like, including a veal and pork pate en croute and foie gras. We began our meal here with a Steamed Artichoke, each leaf dabbed with a terrifically zippy dijon honey aioli, and an Onion Soup Gratinee, enriched with bone marrow, carrots, and beautifully caramelized onions wading in the broth, all sealed with Gruyere. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Trout with Leeks & Potatoes, swimming in a creamy Champagne Sauce, but Alleno’s Lamb Stew is refreshingly light, brimming with tender nubs of local lamb mingled with peas, green beans, baby carrots and herbs. This is a locavore-bent menu with the majority of the ingredients, coming from the surrounding countryside, like white asparagus, cabbage and the artichoke starter I sampled.
My biggest complaint about the Terroir Parisien Palais Brongniart is how surprisingly quiet it is, likely due to its isolated located just below the Paris Stock Exchange (think New York’s Financial District at night). You’re better off at the other location on Rue St. Victor, which has a little more buzz to it. You’ll also want to adjust your expectations that you’re in for some extraordinary meal, what with Yannick Alleno as the chef and all. But really it’s just a fine bistro with a great Lamb Stew and spectacular Apple Tarte Tatin. (The chocolate tart’s pretty damn good as well.) So if you only have a few, prized nights in Paris, skip it.