Café des Ministères? [Paris]

Didn’t find it with the search engine, never been there and friends that went lately when visiting the city, liked it a lot, worth saving one of the “more traditional spots” for it ? Prices for mains seems a bit on the higher side, well it’s the 7 th arr, maybe other resembling places to consider, regardless of arr location ? Thx !

You didn’t find it with the search engine because it’s named Café des Ministères.
I’ve found the place to be hit and miss with good potential. It has seemed to me at times that service and kitchen could be a bit saturated. The place is now quite successful, having been exposed on various videos and blogs.

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Thanks for the correction :slight_smile: I think that also in the correct way, search returns null… Well except for this current thread of course… Thanks for the information

I have a booking for Friday the 13th and will try to remember to report back.

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Sounds ominous. Friday the Thirteenth at a place that can’t be found.

Just kidding - @oferl - when I search it, I get lots of hits (restaurant URL, Michelin guide, tripadvisor, Yelp, Google Maps/reviews, etc.). I wonder if you have a glitch in your browser where it’s stuck on the old cached result?

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Friday the 13th – a great Monk composition. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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My computer is known as the Barmda triangle of all computers, but i meant of course that the search engine of this site the hungry onion, returns nothing on this place :slight_smile:

Great ! I hope you will have a good visit and will be glad to read your impression on the place

Agree, Discourse software is not good for searching, even trying the “advanced” features.

Instead, type into google search a URL with the word “site:” in front, followed by the words of interest like this

site:hungryonion.org “search term(s)”

(with or without the quotation marks, depending on desired level of specificity)

We had a very good lunch today. It’s a pleasant spot 50 m or so from the Assemblée Nationale. There’s a front room that has maybe 28 seats and a back room that can seat maybe 12 more. But there were a number of vacant tables today and people who came in without a reservation were all turned away. My guess is that staffing shortages are limiting the amount of seats they currently can service.

Prices are not cheap, but they are not excessive, either. As OP noted, this is the 7th, and in addition, portions are huge and the majority of customers today (including us) left with doggie bags. On a January day, this type of food is more than appropriate. As far as I am aware, all diners today except us were French (and a fair number of tourists seem to be in Paris at the moment – rightly so, as the “Bonjour, Paris” newsletter today called January the best single month to visit Paris).

The food is exclusively traditional. Nothing for vegetarians here, and indeed, those that don’t eat offal will find the list of choices restricted.

The wine list is good and most appropriate for a traditional bistrot – there are plenty of biodynamic and organic producers, but that’s because they’re quality producers and making traditional wines, not because of dogma or because they’re the latest fad. No funky, wild stuff. Wine prices are very good. Most wines are 30-60+€ per bottle and there is a smattering of prestige wines.

L started with oeufs mayonnaise which was four very large egg halves with mayonnaise on top and all sitting on a bed of frisée. It looked beautiful, but as I don’t like eggs on their own, I didn’t try it. L pronounced it excellent.

As entrée, I had octopus, merguez, and chickpeas in a gratin and it was flavorful and as lovely to the eye as to the palate.

L took the stuffed cabbage as her main and I took the Burgundy rabbit dish. Both were impressive in quantity as well as quality, and so we have plenty for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow here at home. The stuffed cabbage is flavorful but light and will be an ideal to those who have long loved the dish in French bistrots. It looks like a bomb, and as L commented, it is the bomb. My rabbit must have been a giant rabbit as I’ve never had such large cuts, but amazingly, it did not lose lose flavor.

We washed all this down with an excellent bottle of Auxey-Duresses rouge 2017 from Matrot, a perfect bistrot wine. (There are three whites and three reds available by the glass as well as a regular Champagne and a rosé Champagne, all of which are good choices.)

For dessert, we split the restaurant’s version of Mont Blanc, another excellent choice.

Bottom line was 160€, good value, all things considered, and then we continued this beautiful sunny afternoon with a walk across the Seine and through the Tuileries, including seeing one of the pavilions going up on the Place de la Concorde for the upcoming Fashion Week. Life is good, or as the French would say, “pas mal.”

If you can’t get in, there are various other alternatives for this kind of place to consider. La Fontaine de Mars, where the Obamas ate in 2009 when they were here, is perhaps a touch below but also a very good destination. Au Trou Gascon is a little more sophisticated and I would rate it a bit higher, but great palates can differ. I’ve never been to Chez l’Ami Jean, but it sounds similar to Café des Ministères only with many more tourists.

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Excellent write-up of the usually enjoyable Café des Ministeres. Many thanks.

Onz, I’d value your comparisons with Le Griffonnier on rue Saussaies near the Palais de l’Elysée. To me, Le G seems the older sibling and role model for Café des Ministères but a lot more power lunchie, venerable, and “insider”. Again, a very trad menu with impeccably done offal but a lot more choice. I don’t drink much at lunch and its rather impressive selection of wines by the glass is an added bonus for me and well suited for switching wines from starter to main or from main to dessert depending on what I have ordered. I go regularly for business lunches and Le Griffonnier is one of the few expense account restos that I actually enjoy (even though I’m am not a huge fan of old-fashioned cuisine bourgeoise nor of “bon bourgeois” type places). Somehow I feel even more French and even more Parisian when I go there. And for some reason, relatively undiscovered by tourists despite its authenticity and trad cuisine. I suspect that few of the staff, incredibly interactive and welcoming to the regulars, even know English and would probably not be as welcoming to non-French speakers.

Parn – I’ve not been to le Griffonnier, but it’s been on my list of places to try. By chance, I have to be in the area tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll have lunch there and report back in answer to your question.

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So today we went to Le Griffonnier in the 8th, almost directly across the street from the Ministry of the Interior and just up the street from the Élysée Palace.

In reserving and doing research, I noticed that there is no website (I think there may be a facebook page, but I don’t do FB). Outside, it’s marked Bistrot à Vins. Inside, it looks weathered, as though this place must go back at least to the 1920s and maybe A. J. Liebling is sitting in a corner someplace (although the seating is tight enough that he’d have had a real problem). What I could find online is that the current owner opened this place maybe 11-13 years ago; I have no idea what was here before that (the current owner did have a place near the Place des Ternes prior to opening this one). I’d not be surprised to learn that there has been a restaurant at this location for a century or more.

Seating is on two floors, and we were on the upstairs floor. What I noticed, while waiting for our friend to join us, is that the clientèle is about 90% male (and maybe it’s often more than that but we tipped it down a little, as both my dining companions were female – we were the only table with more than one female). The last of our party to arrive said that when she got into a cab and gave the driver the name and address of the restaurant, he knew exactly where it was and was impressed that she was going there.

Ages were mostly 30s to mid-50s, but we were not the only ones above that range. I’m fairly sure we were the only Americans in the restaurant. Dress was mostly sweaters (and not expensive ones); I saw only two or three men with neckties, and not many with coats. Despite the fact that there are art galeries a block away on the rue Miromesnil and on the rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, this is clearly not where the people from that world lunch. Parn said that this is a world of power lunches, and that seemed evident. Also, I got the feeling that many of the people here come on a regular basis. I’ll get to the wines later, but there were some quite expensive bottles on tables, including a Chevalier-Montrachet near us (it must have been close to or above 1000€ on the wine list – but the state of white Burgundy these days is a subject for another discussion; that’s actually a very good price). What world are these people from, Parn? Entertainment? Finance? Law? Lobbying? Journalism? Anyway, it was fascinating.

The restaurant won best oeuf mayonnaise in 2018 and one of my companions started with that. The eggs were turned down and arranged in a circle with tomatoes between each of the four halves and mayonnaise ladled over them – very pretty and I guess very good (as I indicated above, it’s not my dish). L had remoulade of celery root, another bistrot classic, and I had some of that and it was very good. I had jambon persillé (two slices) that was enjoyable, although not mind-blowing.

For mains, our friend took the onglet and L and I each had the chicken with morels in cream sauce. I prefer this chicken with morels to the one at Auberge Bressane as the morels have more flavor. As at Café des Ministères, it was clear that this was another era of French cuisine with nothing green in sight anywhere in the restaurant, but plenty of (very good) potatoes to accompany everything.

The wine list is extensive with plenty of well-established names and also a good share of very expensive bottles. We took a Matthieu Delaporte 2019 Sancerre “Culs de Beaujeu” rouge, which was delicious.

Total for three with coffees but no dessert was 187€.

Now, to answer Parn’s question about comparison with Café des Ministères. Le Grifonnier belongs to what I would call arch-traditional bistrots, others would include, for example, Bistrot Volnay, La Biche au Bois (which Parn seems not to like, but I do), and the series under same ownership of Auberge Bressane, Aux Crus de Bourgogne, Aux Bons Crus, Les Marches, and their new one that I haven’t been to. They really want to make you feel that it’s the 1950s-60s all over again.

Café des Ministères is in a class of traditional that is very traditional yet seems a bit brighter (meant as a style comparison and not as a slight of the arch traditional) and certainly has a more contemporary feeling (e.g., the beautiful mural in CdM). La Fontaine de Mars and Au Petit Tonneau also come under this bit-brighter traditional style. Portions are even larger at CdM and it’s even more offal-centric than at Le Griffonnier. I expected a crowd at CdM similar to what I found Le Griffonnier, but that was not the case: CdM was mostly male-female couples and with a one or two exceptions, they didn’t seem to be power lunching and on average were a little older than at Le Griffonnier (in fact, a fair number of apparent (younger) retirees). Finally, Le Griffonnier’s wine list is more aimed at power lunching, CdM is more aimed at a very good, friendly bottle for lunch, although each has exceptions going the other way.

Anyway, thank for having pointed Le Griffonnier out, Parn, and I’ll be back.

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Thanks for the write up. Sounds like a place right up my ally. Anyway, inexpensive sweaters, mostly males, expensive wines: I’d guess government employees on an expense account? :wink:

Bravo. A superb review that captures the flavour of time and place and not simply what’s on the plate.

All of the above. It’s really the “grandes écoles”, especially “les énarques” (graduates of the now defunct Ecole Nationale d’Administration) old-boy network in action. For those unfamiliar with elite higher education in France, please google “grandes écoles”.

Usually there are more suits (made in England, rather than France or Italy) but I suspect a lot of the suit-type habitués have migrated to Davos for the week.

BTW, my go-to starter at Le Griffonnier is the excellent os à moelle/ bone marrow. Re oeufs mayo, I like them but, like pizza and hamburgers, the difference between “the” best and the 100th best is so insignificant that it hardly matters.

I should add that, for me, this is a winter restaurant. In hot weather, the type of heavy trad cuisine and the poor ventilation can make it very oppressing.

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