Le Relais de la Bûcherie
If you find yourself walking around the Notre Dame Cathedral while in Paris and are suddenly struck with hunger pains, worry not! Filling French cuisine is not far away. Take a five minute walk to Rue de la BÃ»cherie where you will find Le Relais de la BÃ»cherie.
Open since March 2009, Le Relais de la BÃ»cherie is a wonderful alternative to the overcrowded restaurants that you find lining the Seine. It is tucked away near the metro station, Maubert-MutualitÃ© on the line 10. One of the most impressive things about the Le Relais is that all types of patrons who enter this place will find what they are looking for. If you are a family trying to find somewhere to enjoy a late lunch, a group of friends looking to take Sunday brunch in the sun, or a couple looking for a romantic spot for your dinner â€“ this place could easily become â€œyour placeâ€.
I found Le Relais purely by accident one night when I was walking around with a friend of mine who also lives in Paris, and two young men from the United States. We were all famished and while there were other restaurants on the block, Le Relais de la BÃ»cherie was very inviting and drew our party into its welcoming doors. I reluctantly asked the garÃ§on for a table for four, using my best French accent hoping it would make a difference; it was about 10:45 on a Wednesday night so I was afraid they would be closed for dinner. To my surprise, and the delight of my empty stomach, they were open.
The waiter was very accommodating and when he realized that not everyone at the table spoke French, he offered us menus in English; which made me feel like I did when I was a pre-adolescent and waiters used to give me the childrenâ€™s menu instead of the adult menu. I politely declined the English option; all the while remembering this gesture was not meant to be taken personally but was an act of kindness.
We sat at the table just to the right of the adorable bar area. Our foursome had gone rogue from the larger group we were with earlier and this sort of turned into an unexpected double date. There were many other patrons in the restaurant that night, all of them laughing and talking up a storm. It made for a very appealing atmosphere. In fact when I look back on that night now, it was the atmosphere most of all that broke the ice. In addition to the extremely appealing ambiance, the food was wonderful! It is simple, fresh, not pretentious, and the portion sizes were excellent.
For my entrÃ©e I choose the Mini-Burger de saumon fumÃ©, pesto dâ€™Ã©pinards et sa crÃ¨me chantilly citronnÃ©e which was delightfully different. For my main course I took the entrecÃ´te grillÃ©e avec sauce bÃ©arnaise maison. I have had entrecÃ´te in many cities across Europe and this one was very well done; it was prepared exactly how I asked, and the sauce comes on the side of the steak. Since it is not drenched all over your food you can choose how much or how little you want on your dish, which I thought was a thoughtful touch.
After the kitchen closes, Le Relais turns into a friendly neighborhood lounge. Dinner guests never feel rushed and are encouraged to sit and enjoy themselves until closing at 2h30 in the morning. Reservations can be made by telephone or with the click of a mouse on Le Relaisâ€™ website. Since we arrived mid-week in the off-season reservations were not necessary, but should you arrive in the summer months I suggest you call ahead, as this gem is frequented by Parisian locals and you donâ€™t want to miss out!!