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
Tel: 01 46 07 07 91
M: Jacques Bonsergent or Gare de l'est
*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.