Coinstot Vino is a resourceful venue located in the heart of the right bank. It has certainly become very fast since its opening in 2010 a reference on the wine scene here, making people forget that it's so young. This is also a wine shop with a large portfolio of uncorrected wines (if only with a bit of SO2).
There's something I like on the Grands Boulevards, especially the part between République and end of the Bd des Italiens. It may have to do with some reminiscence of the flamboyant Napoleon era when this area of Paris was so wildly feisty and sinful, with the emerging bourgeoisie discovering without restraint all the entertainment and consumering culture. This stretch of "the Boulevards" are certainly today the ghost of what it has been then, but I don't know, you still feel I-don't-know-what behind the patina, an excitement for fun and going out which overflows on the neighboring streets.
There's something more in this part of Paris that you can't miss, the passages and galeries, actually covered passages that were probably along the first shopping arcades of the modern history, places where women of the 19th-century bourgeoisie could go spend their money, rain or shine, under the natural light, and in the evening under the lighting of sophisticated gas lamps. You can immerse yourself back in the passage des Panoramas in 1880 by reading an excerpt in English) from Emile Zola's Nana, a novel describing the rapid social ascension of an energetic young prostitute nicknamed Nana.
Most of the remaining passages (25 out of a hundred maybe, originally) happen to be located in this precise area of Paris, and they're among the hidden gems of Paris. Some walking tours offer to show them for a fee, but all you need, to locate them, is choose a passage from this list, paste the exact address of one extremity of a given passage in Google maps and print the map. Today, we'll go to Coinstot Vino at the last end of the Passage des Panoramas, and the door to this passage is 11 Bd Montmartre.
On the video on the left you'll follow more or less the walk from one of the exits of the Metro (Grands Boulevards station) to the end of the passage des Panoramas where you'll stumble on Coinstot Vino. Once inside the passage, you'll pass another reference in terms of wine restaurants, Racines.
There's also a certain advantage to a covered passage compared to a regular street (a passage is actually a covered street), it's that, rain or shine, you can enjoy the terrace in the open, sort of, and in the case of Cointot Vino it doubles the seating capacity. When august nears the terrace can even expand way beyond its usual boundaries, another luxury not always easy on the tightly-regulated sidewalk terraces.
Robin, a NewZealander whom I first met when I was visiting Mathieu Coste in the Coteaux du Giennois (Loire), was working at Coinstot Vino then, she was finetuning her knowledge and expertise with working a few months in the salle of this busy venue.
The wines of the day, the ones available by the glass (12,5 cl), pot (50 cl), and of course in full bottles, are displayed on a large blackboard that Aude or Hernan brings at your table. Recently you had 5 whites, but one had obviously been just chalked off, because it was sold out I guess. The remaining wines were :
"Un Bout de Chenin" by PZ, an Anjou at respectively 5 €, 19 € and 26 €
Klevener 2012 Nature by Rietsch in Alsace (also 5 € - 19 € - 26 €).
Les Sables 2011, Cour Cheverny [Romorantin] by Philippe Tessier (Loire) at 4,5 €, 17 € and 24 €.
Le P'Tit Buisson 2012, Clos de Tue Boeuf (Loire) at 4,5 €, 17 € and 24 €.
As we were hesitating about the wines, she told us about the PZ wine, it's made by a guy who also works at Domaine Mosse, Stephan Przezdziecki, who sort of shortened his name into Stephan PZ. B. chose this wine and I had a sip too, an aromatic wine, very lively too.
They had 5 reds to choose from by the glass
or pot :
Lard des Choix 2012, from Ardèche (Rhone) by Souhaut/Dard (4,5 € glass, 17 € 50cl-pot and 22 € bottle)
trigone Le Soula 2012, Vin de Fenouillèdes from the Languedoc by Gerard Gauby (5€-19€-28€)
Racigas 2012, Vin de France from the Dordogne by Mathias Marquet (6€-23€-32€),
Cheverny 2012 from the Loir et Cher by Philippe Tessier (4,5€-17€-22€),
Brulius 2012, a Brouilly (Beaujolais) by Raphael Champier (4,5€-17€-25€). The first wine, Lard des Choix, took my attention, it was made by Les Champs Libres, a small négoce run by both Hervé Souhaut and René-Jean Dard (from Dard & Ribo) and it seemed thus very exciting, so I ordered a 50cl pot of it as apéritif and for the meal. The wine was a very good choice, fruity with an enjoyable substace, a liquid food. I thought it was a blend of 80 % Gamay and 20 % Syrah, but I called René-Jean who told me it was a 100% Gamay. This is a semi-carbonic maceration which is some sort of Rhone tribute to the Beaujolais; there is actually lots of gamay in Ardèche. The price to go at Coinstot Vino for a bottle was 12 € and they had only one left that evening.
Coinstot Vino has a different carte menu for lunch and for dinner, lunch being even more affordable ans with a shorter choice, which is convenient for the office workers of the vicinity. In the evening you can choose from 5 entrees, 5 dishes, 5 desserts and 6 planches (charcuterie/cheese assortments). You can combine all of them and share.
You have to reserve for dinner, at least for the room inside, and usually calling the previous day is enough, although maybe not on weekends. They don't take reservations for the terrace, first arrived first served, so you can still show up without reservation and still have a chance. It's less comfortable outside if the weather is cold (it's a covered passage, but still), but they installed several radiant outdoor heaters overhead and it's OK to keep you warm.
For the entree, B. took 6 No-2 oysters from Utah Beach (Normandy) at 17 €, a large-size type of oysters. She gave me one and it was deliciously alive (the adjective is particularly appropriate here...) with the sea water (but I hardly come across oysters that are not simply delicious).
For my part I chose the terrine campagnarde (country terrine in French) at 8 €. This terrine was terrific, especially with the excellent bread, it had a wonderful texture, not the hard-compact type you often have with terrines, and so tasty, plus the portion was gorgeously generous.
They now renamed the other venue Le Poppolo and it also makes Pizzas from ingredients imported from Italy. You can by the way also order a pizza at Coinstot Vino, they have a separate blackboard with about 8 sorts of pizza. They're large size and cost from 12 € to 15 € each.
Speaking of the wine-shop side, Guillaume says that they have probably a bit more than 300 different wines. You can make your choice from a wall of bottles on the shelves but all the cuvées are not there, they have a cellar somewhere in the Passage des Panoramas where they store most of their wine.
Again, like I can say that about all these wine bars/restaurants where you can buy wine to go, there's a certain additional advantage because of the late working hours when you realize that you need a bottle after regular wine shops have closed : no matter if the restaurant is full and it's 10pm or close to midnight, you can choose a bottle on the shop window and just pay the caviste price. Not bad when you have an urgent-but-late need for real wine, there aren't many quality wine shops open this late, and no need to say that considering the working ethics of the winegrowers represented here, you can buy blind without bad surprises.