Friday, December 01, 2006

Chez Maurice Le Bourgogne

Au Bourgogne is one of the few restaurants on my blacklist. First mentioned way back when on my list of cheap restaurants, I discovered this place in the guide Paris Pas Cher. It's included there for good reason: they've got set menus from 11€ - 16 17.50€. Despite this, and much to the chagrin of my boyfriend since it is one of his favorite restaurants here, I refuse to return. Anytime he's going out with friends and I either can't or don't want to join them, he gets excited because it gives him the chance to satisfy his Au Bourgogne fix.

The first time I went, I too loved this place. The cheesy red checkered tablecloths, the convivial atmosphere, the jolly bartender (Maurice's daughter) and her young daughter Morgane trailing behind, carrying the credit card machine for her maman: a storybook family restaurant indeed. It was the first time I ate tartiflette, a heavy potato, cheese and bacon casserole, and it was delicious. Packed regardless of the day or hour, the clientele is a diverse mix of the neighborhood bobos, colorful regulars, students, single men who consider it their cantine, and a stray tourist or two. We almost always ran into someone we knew there, and once we even saw a reporter from Canal+.

Part of the Bourgogne experience involves a 15-minute interruption in the evenings, as a sad old lady with pancake makeup comes and gives her screeching renditions of French ballads. It makes it impossible to carry on a conversation, and if you have either dogs or babies with you I'm sure they will want to join in. My dog loves singing along to the French fire engine sirens, and I can only imagine how she would react if ever she witnessed this spectacle.* We always felt so sad and sorry for this lady, but it was truly horrible. This alone, however, isn't why I will never go back.

We returned quite a few times, usually with friends as it is a great place for groups, and each time was fine. We might have felt a bit rushed or cramped, and the cooking might have been inconsistent, but nothing out of the ordinary for a Parisian restaurant. And certainly acceptable given the prices.

The second to last time I went, I was eating my fromage blanc when I almost choked on a fish bone. I don't even want to ponder how a fish bone got in my dessert. I chalked it up to the hazards of dining out, though I was a bit hesitant to return after that.

It was my final visit that settled it. I started with a slice of mushroom quiche, and then had the Eggs Florentine, which is a casserole involving spinach and eggs and I don't even know what else. Just writing this is making me queasy. That night I was struck with something and I spent a lovely evening and the following morning hugging the porcelain. I think it was food poisoning; R counters that it was just the flu. But I was feeling fine up til after dinner, and I am sure Le Bourgogne was the culprit. The thought of cooked spinach now makes me nauseous and it will take some time before I'll be able to eat it again.

If you are adventurous, can't wait to see the spectacle for yourself, have an iron stomach, or are just really cheap, don't let me stop you. Try it at your own risk.

The menus (click to enlarge):

Chez Maurice Le Bourgogne
26, Rue des Vinaigriers
75010 Paris
Tel: 01 46 07 07 91
M: Jacques Bonsergent or Gare de l'est
Closed Sundays

Pictures forthcoming updated.

*Her charming groomer, situated on a street through which fire engines have passed in the course of the grooming, has nicknamed her La Petite Chanteuse.

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5 comments:

amy said...

I had a very sadly similar experience at a very similar restaurant (down to the checked tablecloths). It was one of the cheapest eats in Paris, had been around for a quarter-century, and was always reliably delicious, if simple and hardy. (Les Beaux-Arts, it was called, and it was located near the Ecole des Beaux Arts.)

Anyway, all things must come to an end, and one year we heard it was under new management. I went anyway, keeping my hopes up -- my steak bernaise was passable, but I spent the next *three days* vomiting what seemed like everything I had ever eaten in my entire life.

Worst of all, due to my distress I had to cancel a reservation at the Tour D'Argent! I never forgave them, and I never went back.

Stu "El Inglés" Harris said...

Excellent tartiflette is often on the menu at a very unpretentious little bistro on Ave Ledru-Rollin, 12eme. Can't recall the name but it's on the East side of the ave, right around R. Basfroi. Métro Voltaire.

Saul_Minneapolis said...

I love reading the reviews, and will use our best-of round-up on my trip in February. For purposes of the review, tell us if it is a lunch or dinner review - a least for cost ect...

Mimi said...

Thanks for the tip. I have had this experience after eating at restaurants in the U.S. more time than I can remember, and once in Paris (somewhere in the 13th).

Tood bad about Le Bourgogne — it sounds like the kind of place that offers affordability along with a modicum at least of authenticity (it that still exists).

Etienne said...

I know, it is so authentic and hidden away, and such a cheap and convenient place, and I have yet to find a replacement, so I am sad that this happened.

amy - I *think* I've heard of that place, and I *think* I might've almost gone there, again relying on Paris Pas Cher. Now I'm glad I didn't! I loved that guide when I first moved here, and it is good for some things, but just so inconsistent and unreliable for the restaurants. It gets the prices right but not much else.

Stu - I'll keep that in mind.

Saul - I think it's safe to assume that the menus and prices are for dinner unless I state otherwise. Usually in France the a la carte prices remain the same for both meals, while the set menus do not, ie a 3-course meal at dinner will be 30€ while at lunch you can only get a 2-course for 20€, or some restaurants have really good lunch deals that are significantly cheaper than the dinner set menus but you have little or no choice for the actual plates. (ex: the pre verre has a ~25€ evening set menu but a ~12-14€ 2-course + glass of wine lunch menu.) But this is all generalization.