02 May 2017

c'est extra: le bel ordinaire, 75010

The latter-day service-industry explosion of Paris' 10ème arrondissement is remarkable for its enthusiastically globalized aesthetics. You have Asian fusion bistrots, craft beer pizza joints, fish-n-chips, Parisian burgers, bentos galore, and Syrian take-out: a full-on Soho occurring between rue du Faubourg Montmartre and the boulevard de Strasbourg.

What the 10ème lacks, since Pierre Jancou flipped Vivant and Kevin Blackwell closed his beloved bistrot Autour d'Un Verre, is that most Parisian of commodities : a convincing wine destination.

On bustling rue Paradis, culinary journalist Sebastien Demorand's gleaming new épicerie-bar-à-vin Le Bel Ordinaire, with its airy dimensions, its tall shelves modeled on scaffolding, its pristine rear kitchen, rather resembles another new-fangled London-scaled endeavor. Indeed, it is one. But its charm, for now, lays in how well it fills the neighborhood wine bar void, providing a calm and tasteful apéro spot for the quartier's hurried young professionals.

Le Bel Ordinaire was built into the shell of a former lighting shop. I can only marvel at the negotiations Demorand must have gone through to install the kitchen. One long table spans the room, a curious under-exploitation of the space that I assume is a temporary situation. (Two tables could probably fit without unduly hindering retail sales.) Both occasions I've visited Le Bel Ordinaire have been as a party of two; on both occasions I've hesitated before guiltily seating myself at the end of the communal table, space which would more profitably be reserved for a party of three. I suppose I have an aversion to seating myself directly next to or between other parties in such bright lighting. What works for a beer hall can be an odd fit for a fly-through apéro spot.

The menu, which emphasizes products sold on the shelves, is a free-form array of small plates and inexpensive nibbles. Some components are very persuasive, like the impeccably meaty and well-presented kalamata olives.

Other dishes - some limp, sear-less octopus - seem to evidence a chef still adapting to a new kitchen and the desires of a new clientele.

The kitchen, run by former Semilla cook Nicolas Fabre, has no discernible signature for now. But I sense that is sort of the point of Le Bel Ordinaire, a retail-bar intended as repository of diverse French and international specialties. As the fashion designer Junya Watanabe would often mumble to his staff after screening a video of the new season's men's collection, "The theme is no theme."

Le Bel Ordinaire is well-placed among the innumerable offices of the 10ème, offering both "le afterwork" and a selection of gourmet gifts to bring home to the missus or mister afterwards. The wine selection, almost exclusively natural wines, is daring given the otherwise eagerly commercial posture of the endeavor. Demorand and his partner, Cyrille Rossetto, financed Le Bel Ordinaire partly through crowd-funding, and have stated intentions to open several other locations across Paris. Their website contains an impressive serenade to would-be investors.

Will those future investors share Demorand's passion for excellent low-sulfur cru Beaujolais, for the changeable Provençal wines of Domaine Milan, for the ever-rarer domaine wines of the talented but weather-cursed Montlouis maestro Bertrand Jousset? One hopes so. For now Demorand's selection is especially laudable for containing the odd unusual back vintage, like the bottle of 2010 Domaine Henri Naudin-Ferrand Hautes-Côtes de Nuits blanc I shared on my first visit.

Taut yet fleshy, with chiming green apple and flint, the wine wore its seven years like an eye-blink. When the final two glasses revealed finer grain and lifting white floral notes, I realised I ought to have asked for a carafe.

The experience of such a lovely wine in a faintly supermarket-like setting recalled a visit in 2008 to Eataly in Turin, where my erstwhile employer and I shared a bottle of 1990 Cavalotto Barolo with aged Piemontese steak. Demorand and Rossetto, if they aren't yet attaining that level of profit-raking high-low grandeur at Le Bel Ordinaire, have all the means and the savvy to achieve it.

Le Bel Ordinaire
54, rue de Paradis
75010 PARIS
Tel: +33 1 46 27 46 67
Métro: Poissonière, Cadet, or Bonne Nouvelle

Related Links:

Le Fooding on Le Bel Ordinaire.

Time Out's review rather curiously turns into a sales pitch for Le Bel Ordinaire's long-term business plan.

1 comment:

  1. It is a shame about Autour d'Un Verre. Any idea why it closed? Pacchio is a nice addition to the area.