This young American, who is originally from Mountain View, California, just at the southern tip of San franciso Bay, has been serving very good food along with a nice selection of artisan wines for years in his Paris wine-bar/restaurant in the Grands Boulevards neighborhood. This is an area with many small hotels (there's one just across the street, the Léman), restaurants and stage theaters, the nearst one being the Théatre Trévise 20 meters up the street. Autour d'un Verre is the favourite base for comedians and spectators, before and after the shows. The last time we visited the bar, Jerome Daran was relaxing there before his one-man-show at Trévise. He is the guy in black sitting outside while Kevin brings glasses of white wine [picture below]
As you may have difficulty to reach Autour d'un Verre, let me explain you the easy way : step down at the Grands-Boulevards Métro station (lines 8 & 9), go out if possible at the "rue Montmartre" exit. Once outside, cross the street to the street on the other side (named rue du Faubourg Montmartre) and walk along this street until the 2nd intersection on the right, where actually 2 streets start. Take the street on the right, rue de Monthyon. The rue de Trévise will be the second on the left. Here is the map.
Autour d'un Verre looks like it was never remodeled since the 60's and that's fine with us : nice faded colors on the wall, old wooden café-chairs, a couple of mirrors, a nice circular ring molded in the ceiling and a huge golden sign reading "Machines à écrire" (typing machines), maybe from a former business in the 30's. Behind the windows, the only decoration you see when the iron curtain is closed are a few empty bottles and magnums with tempting names on the label : Yvon Métras, Hervé Souhaut, Nicolas Joly and others... Being arrived in advance, we sat on the green chairs outside. When the iron curtain went up, we were greeted by Hervé (the young bearded man who helps occasionally), Kevin and Vicky. The evening brings little respite to the heat and it's only by 10 pm that the people at the few tables outside begin to enjoy better air. This is Kevin's last day before summer closing : he leaves the next day for California (until august 19th). The menu will be shorter for this last evening, but people have come nonetheless and filled the restaurant in spite of the temperature.
When you walk in the bar/restaurant at 8 pm you may be the first to step in, as it really begins to fill between 9 pm and 10 pm. The clients are living in the vicinity or are habitués who like the relaxed ways and _ of course_ the nice list of natural wines. The food is simple and good, made out very fresh products. This story took place thursday 31st, the last day before summer vacations, Kevin was flying friday to California until august 19th. For this last day, there was a single main dish with a choice between two entrées. So, we had some Colinot fish with purée, fried aubergine, zuchinni and (whole) fried tomatoes. The fish (we had each one half of a Colinot which is a generous portion) was very fresh and lightly cooked, Vicky had made a very good job here. The vegetabled were lightly crispy and sprayed with coarse salt. Delicious. You pay usually something between 12 and 18 Euro for a two-courses meal, depending if for lunch or dinner. Great value, especially that the wines are particularly affordable by the bottle.
About the wines : we had first a Mazel "cuvée Mias" 2005 from the Ardèche (Rhone), a fruity Viognier. With the food, we first wanted a pink wine made by François Ecot (the guy from Jenny & François Selections) that we spotted at a table (Vin de Table "Coulée Douce" at 18 Euro), its color was vivid like a candy. But they had just one bottle left and it wasn't cold (it'll be for the next time). So we took a glass of Sauvignon de Saint Bris by Alice & Olivier De Moor. Nice match, with a Sauvignon full of generosity and richness.
Vicky is a Brit from Swansea near Cardiff. She landed in France two years ago and had to learn French again, having learned a bit of this language when as a 10-year-old, she spent several months here. She began to learn and train about wine in England, but it was about more "classical" wines, natural wines being relatively unknown yet there.
This place has a soul, in addition to its exciting wine list, and Kevin's dog Armel (a girl), and the cat are always around, following him when he serves the patrons outside or lying in the restaurant. Armel is a good dog, she was also at the last Caves-Augé tasting, for the Loire wines.
Asked about touring the wine regions, Kevin says that even though the job is time-hungry, he still finds time to visit the vintners in the wine regions, like for example Philippe Pacalet, Pierre Overnoy, Mauperthuis and others.
Speaking of the wines, he has several wines by the glass, and a long list of bottles with prices which are very close to the price you would pay at the estate. The bar/restaurant sells also wine to go, like a caviste.
A few bottle picks from the wine list :
Chinon Les Picasses 2003, Pierre Breton, 30 Euro. Puzelat, Clos du Tue Boeuf Rouillon, Vin de Table, 22 Euro. Raisin de l'Ange, cuvée Bran, Gilles Azzoni, Rhone 18 Euro. Le Temps des cerises, "un Pas de coté" Axel Prüfer (Languedoc), 22 Euro. Régnié 2004 Ancestra, 20 Euro. Beaujolais 2006, Karim Vionnet, 20 Euro. Collioure 2006 "la Pascole, Bruno Duchêne, 35 Euro. Nuits-Saint-Georges 2006, "Vallerots" Machard de Gramont, 40 Euro. Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru 2005 Vieilles Vignes Prieuré Roch, 85 Euro. Morgon 2006 Côte de Py, Foillard, 28 Euro.