Benoit could be the epitome of a Parisian bistro. With its classic interior featuring wood panels, red velvet seats, engraved glass windows, fake marble columns and huge mirrors it looks just the way you think an old bistro in Paris should look like. Entering the dining room it feels almost as if you have travelled a hundred years back in time. Browsing Benoit’s website or walking past the restaurant you might even think this is just another tourist trap. But don’t. Benoit serves seriously good food. Just do not expect avant garde-cuisine. This 100 year old bistro serves classical French cuisine.
In 1912 Benoit Matray opened the doors to the bistro which is located in the 4th arrondisement near Les Halles. The restaurant stayed in the Matray family for 93 years, until 2005 when Alain Ducasse took over ownership. According to Benoit’s webpage it is the only Michelin starred bistro in Paris. There is no tasting menu just a regular Carte with hot and cold starters, mains and desserts.
Escargots en coquille, beurre d’ail fines herbes
There are probably not many restaurants with a Michelin star that serves snails today. I would guess it is a more rare sight nowadays than horseradish snow. The snails were cooked – all but two perfectly – in a garlic and herb (parsley, chervil and chives) butter. There was a lot of garlic butter and mixed herbs making this a very rich dish. A simple yet delicious dish.
Filet de Saint-Pierre poêlé, asperges vertes de Provence, cuites et crues, sauce au vin jaune
Two perfectly cooked fillets of John Dory with cooked and raw asparagus in a vin jaune- sauce. Like the first dish this was quite simple. Just two different ingredients and a sauce. But it was a wonderful composition. A perfectly balanced dish. Actually one of the best dishes I had during this trip to Paris. Brilliant.
Millefeuille classique à la vanille
A classic millefeuille with vanilla cream. It was well made but I think it would benefit from a little bit more cream or something similar to balance the dry feel in the cake.
Readers probably wonder if Benoit really is worth one Michelin star. I think it is. Of course it is difficult to have an opinion after just one dinner and only three courses. The food is neither innovative nor spectacular but very delicious and the cooking seems to be solid. The food is in principle cooked without remarks and the quality of the produce is definitely on one Michelin star level. As I have said before I think there is still room for classic French cuisine.
Benoit is not the cheapest restaurant. You can dine at higher ranked restaurants in Paris for less money. Most mains cost around €40 with some up to €60. However there are also mains for less than €30.
I would happily return to Benoit. In fact this was my second visit. The first one being seven years ago. If you like classic French food Benoit is recommended.
More pictures from Benoit in higher resolution can be found on my Flickr-album.Benoit – 20, rue Saint Martin – 75004 Paris