I recently bought the 2006/2007 Routard guide for Paris Bistros & Restaurants, and I tore through it, starring many many restaurants that I can't wait to try. Last night I got to knock Louis Vins off this list, which I chose because of the reasonable prices (26€ set menu) and their unique concept of "vins au compteur" - you can order a bottle but you only pay for what you drink.
Their menu offers a variety of choices, and if you're not that hungry you can opt for the 2 course version at 23€ euros:
For the entrée I got the melon and parma, which was gorgeous. This was a tiny cantaloupe, with a dash of liquor in the bottom, and the parma was wrapped around a crunchy bread stick that balanced on top. Other appetizers on the table were the fois gras and salad, and a terrine made of beef tail (oxtail?) with fois gras at the center. This is the first time I have ever noticed this; I never knew there was meat in the tail.
I ordered the tuna with wine for my main course, which was served with a scoop of mashed potatoes and garnished with a garlic pesto type sauce, beets, and red currants. The tuna was delicious and perfectly cooked, and I enjoyed the redcurrants - not only did they add color, but also a burst of sour. My persnickety friend, however, did not appreciate the redcurrants, which also came with his dish - scallops wrapped in bacon. He complained about the following combinations: fish & mashed potatoes; fish & bacon; anything & redcurrants. (I don't have a problem with any of these, and I would even venture to say that the fish & bacon combination is trendy now - this is the third or fourth time I have encountered it in Paris...thoughts?) The duck also looked delicious - it was served on a bed of cannellini, sauteed endives, and to my friend's horror (when I translated "gésiers" for her), gizzards!
For dessert I was mildly disappointed because I had read a review praising their île flottantes (another one of my favorite desserts), but they weren't on the menu that day. Instead I opted for the crème brûlée, which was just OK - it was a bit clotty. The other dessert on the table was the "terrine de chocolat". We asked the waitress and she described it as a compact chocolate mousse: fudge! This was awesome, because in addition to the pure chocolate aspect, there was a layer of brownie in the center.
We had the usual coffee and tea afterwards, and when a friend made a special request for mint tea (we had been talking about Morocco), the waitress said no problem she would make it herself, and out she came with the teapot, a cloth tea bag, and fresh mint. Just another example of the friendly service we received all evening - we had 2 waitresses and both of them rocked. The coffee platter was especially cute, and it came with a shot glass of chocolate mousse:
We had ordered a bottle each of red and white wine "au compteur", thinking that way we could better match the wine and the food...and what do you know, we ended up finishing both! So sorry, but I can't tell you how they price it when you don't finish the bottle. They were both excellent, and for the whole bottle one was 26€ and the other was 40€.
There was a very old payphone by the restrooms:
I would recommend Louis Vins without hesitation due to the choice and quality of food and wine, the friendly service, the prices, and the great atmosphere - it was hopping! One serious drawback: NO credit cards. None. Not even debit cards. So don't forget to make a pitstop by the ATM on the way there!
9, rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève
01 43 29 12 12