Health Check: Le Bistrot d’Henri (Paris, France)

One of the advantages of having fairly regular trips to certain destinations like London and Paris is that you can occasionally not worry about finding new places, and just revisit some old favorites. In this case, after several days in Grenoble, France, I had a spare day in Paris before the next portion of my trip (the Paris Air Show), so I spent a day visiting the Musée des Arts et Métiers, walking around seeing the various sights in Paris, and eventually wandering over to the 6ème Arrondissement to check up on some favorites, including stopping for a sampling of rum at La Rhumerie, and then wandering over to revisit one of my favorite informal Paris bistros for an Offbeat Eats Health Check: Le Bistrot d’Henri.

You can read the previous review from 2015 for the overall details on Bistrot d’Henri, but getting to the Bistro is unchanged. Located in a block of small restaurants and bars a few blocks north of Jardin du Luxembourg, the moment you wall in the door you can see that the only observable change in the eight years since my last visit is that the prices now reflect the significant price inflation since then. Otherwise, the basic interior is completely unchanged: a small and cozy dining area with only about eight tables, fit in a space more properly sized for about 6 tables, so you’re practically jostling elbows with the adjoining tables, and having to scoot your chair over so people can get seated or leave. The decor remains the quintessential “bistro”, the checkered floors, the dim lights, the bottles of wine and water on each table. It’s definitely a charming spot.

As far as the menu… it is still the same fine-lettered menu board of daily specials, one each at the front and rear of the restaurant with a good number of standard French bistro dishes to chose from. While I’m sure either they’ve got an English menu hiding someplace, or will help a non-French speaker select something from the menu board, I actually like that they didn’t immediately offer up either one, and it gave me a nice chance to practice some of my culinary French as I looked over the various bistro fare, including steaks (including a classic chateaubriand), rotisserie-roasted chicken, escalloped veal, and such classic French dishes as Andouillete and Boeuf Bourguignon.

If I was visiting with Carol, this would have been a nice opportunity to splurge on a nice bottle of French wine, but as a solo diner I opted to just go for a bottle of the house red, which was actually quite enjoyable, as I reviewed the rest of the menu and watched the street traffic outside.

On my previous visit, one dish I absolutely adored was Os à Moelle (roasted beef marrow bones), and I just felt compelled to order it again. Like the previous visit, this dish (one you don’t normal see in the States) was sublimely good: roasted to a nice soft texture, seasoned with just the right amount of salt, and served up with some nicely done toast, each bite was a perfect bit of fat, salt, and beef flavor. A perfect start to the meal.

While it’s actually not a terribly difficult dish to make at home, it had actually been quite a while since I’d had a good Boeuf Bourguignon, and decided to indulge in that classic dish on this trip, and I wasn’t dissappointed. Bistrot d’Henri’s version was extremely flavorful, the beef very tender, the sauce quite rich, and the potatoes only lightly seasoned to focus on the beef dish. I happily enjoyed this while sipping on the rest of the wine.

So, while a lot has changed in the last few years, it was quite refreshing to have another great dinner at Bistrot d’Henri, and one of my all-time favorite dishes, the roasted marrow bones, remains a perfect execution of that dish. The staff is friendly and efficient, and the atmosphere friendly and inviting. It’ll remain one of my go-to spots in Paris.

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