It's about a new place in Paris for good wine and healthy food to go with. I had heard about the venue some time ago and wanted to go there and see if there was more than hype, and the experience was great. The decor is simple but warmful, with this thick wood floor and the big leather armchairs that make you feel at home. The crowd is very Parisian, even bobo on the side, and many patrons probably either work near here or live nearby. While very close from Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, a major thoroughfare between Bastille & République, it's situated on a quiet bland street (a passage actually, a term for very narrow street) which makes the surroundings very quiet and less polluted. The boulevard going from Bastille to République is Paris as you know it, active and busy, and here it's already another neighboorhood by itself, no shop in this street if I remember, just appartment buildings, all occupied if I judge from the lights in the evening. I guess that the people who opened this place knew that if you cook and pour the right way, it's not that important to be remote or located on a back street compared to a major thoroughfare, people will know and come anyway.
This place is as much a wine bar as a restaurant, which means that you can drop for a glass or two, or even choose from the bottle list, some of the bottles being quite affordable. There are about 4 reds by the glass beginning at 4 €, the last time I chose a Sancerre Pinoz by Dauny at 6 €. Pours make 14 centiliters here. There are 4 whites, starting at 4 €, among which a Chidaine (4 €). There's also a rosé (a Sancerre at 4,5 €) and a Champagne (B.'s choice) by Dominique Jarry at 7 €. This list changes of course regularly. There's also an unpublicized wine under the counter (a bag-in-box), a dark red wine from the Minervois (Languedoc) named Cuvée Populaire and priced 2,5 € a glass. All the wines here are chosen with care and these are all real wines from what I browsed on the bottle menu.
The white wine list is equally interesting but I didn't take any note about it, so you'll have to trust me on this.
The last time B. and I dropped there, we chose respectively a glass of Dominique Jarry Chanpagne (B.) and a Sancerre 2010 Pinoz Vignobles Dauny (me), a 12-hectare Sancerre estate I didn't know until then. Loved this Pinot Noir, very translucid wine, smooth and fruity and going down very (too) easily.
The room is as you see very inviting, that's not a place where you feel shy, just sit down and have a good time with your friends.
On that occasion, we went to the Passage at 7pm a friday, and we were the only ones at that time, which was more convenient to exchange a few words with the staff. The Australian chef James Henry, his aides and co-manger Jean-Charles Buffet soon began to dine on a table so as to be ready for the evening service (which begins at 8 pm for the food part).
Regarding the food, there's no fixed menu here. For lunch you have the choice between a couple of entrees and a couple of dishes, made along the fresh products that the Australian cook James Henry brings back twice a week (wesnesday & saturday) from the street market of Avenue du President Wilson, particularly from the vegetable expert Joël Thiébault. You'll eat for between 10 € and 16 € at lunch.
For dinner, you have the choice between some 20 plates, that you can order at will along with you wine, like tapas. These dishes cost from 6 € to 8 € on average, which makes Au Passage a very affordable place for wine with sommething to eat. There are various sea food plates, including oysters and fish carpaccio, with often vegetables on the side. Sea food and fish seem to have the front seat here (most are line-caught, here), I felt (see this picture of James Henry holding a big fish) There's meat plates too, plus one big dish that you can share with your party : a whole lamb shoulder, the only "expensive" dish on the blackboard the last time we dropped, at 40 €. You also have some selected cheese, like the Saint Nectaire on the left (6 € for a plate), and a couple of desserts at 5 €.
Jean-Charles Buffet sets the new plates menu every day (pic on right) and writes them patiently on the the blackboard. You can check virtually all the past menus on their Facebook page by clicking on the countless pictures of the blackboard to enlarge it (you'll see the prices too).
On the outside on the street wall (a place where you'll go often if you smoke), there are a couple od unmistakable sketches by Misstic, one (on left) being the one I had seen in a special issue of Charlie Hebdo named Marcel Hebdo. The last pic of this post shows this sketch which was part of this paper printed for Marcel Lapierre's 60th birthday in early 2010. The sentence is just a bit different. Marcel Lapierre passed away a year ago on october 11.
As a reminder, another recent special issue of Charlie Hebdo, named Charia Hebdo (or Sharia Weekly) caused some stir around here a few days ago, and the offices of Charlie Hebdo were burnt down subsequently. The special issue of the satirical magazine had Mahomet as guest editor, which is a risky try nowadays, considering the record of islamic enforcers throughout Europe against free speech.
In short, this is a good, affordable place for wine and lunch/dinner, at a walking distance from Bastille and République.
The day I shot this video, I visited the venue with Marise, who also wrote a post on her own site Vin et Chere.
Read also Aaron's visit report about Au Passage (in English). Aaron is an American expat who was previously a sommelier in Los Angeles.