of my downfalls is that I do not have a photographic memory. Sometimes
I go out to eat and the next day, I have less of a recollection of what
I ate (and drank) than some of my esteemed colleagues who write about
restaurants so eloquently do. (My memory is gradually been replaced by
the camera on my phone.) In this case, as soon as I got home, I wrote
up some notes from the meal and quotes from the chef, which some rather
concerted efforts to find on my computer failed to turn up.
said, all the meals that I’ve had at Chez Dumonet, a spot-on
classic Parisian bistro, have been memorable – regardless of the
evolving ways that I have of preserving them. The memories last long
after that feeling of being absolutely stuffed have diminished — the
next few days after a meal here are invariably “salad days.”
not much changes at Chez Dumonet, which is sometimes still
affectionately called Joséphine.
For those who want a place that is carrying on the traditions of the
Parisian bistro, you can’t do better than Chez Dumonet. The only
concessions they’ve made to modern times (and waistlines) are offering
half-portions of certain dishes, which are massive enough to make you
wish le doggy
bag was more popular in Paris. (I, personally, do not mind
rewarmed bœuf bourguignon the next day for lunch.)
Jean-Christian Dumonet kept the nickname Joséphine,
which people continue to use, the name of the beloved restaurant that
he took well over a decade ago. He told me that it was previously a bougnat,
a place that sold heating coal, as well as acting as a neighborhood
evolved to what it is today. And judging from the packed dining room at
lunch, with the cooks working like madmen in the kitchen and diners of
all ages crowded into the dining room, it doesn’t seem like it’s going
to be changing to anything else in the near future.
could start with a few slabs of the meaty housemade terrine, but I
usually go with the herring, which comes to the table in a large
earthenware dish, the neatly fileted fish marinating (or swimming) in a
generous pool of olive oil, with bay leaves and thyme.
a “help yourself” kind of dish. But it’s best not to overdo it because
the main courses that are coming up will fill any holes in your
I was eyeing the pigeon with crisp potato cakes that the chef was
turning out in the kitchen, I have a very hard time ordering anything
else at Chez Dumonet, other than the exceptional duck confit. It is –
and probably always will be – the best version in Paris.