18 January 2011
In the 3ème there is a faddish twit restaurant called Derrière that is outfitted to look like someone's shabby-chic apartment. It is pretty much a playground for inattentive club kids who, knowing nothing of what constitutes good cooking or good drinking, seek a restaurant that offers, as substitute for both, gimmicky things like foozball tables and a "hidden" smoking room.*
The dining area of the recently-opened La Bodeguita du IXème, sister-cave to La Bodeguita du IVème, happens also to look kind of like an apartment. With more emphasis on the shabby side of shabby-chic. But there, happily, the similarities between the two establishments end. La Bodeguita du IXème is not in fact a restaurant, just a solid well-intentioned cave à grignoter. I juxtapose it with Derrière only to provide a contrast between funny décor intended as the crux of a concept - a terrible idea, reminiscent of mini-golf courses - and funny décor as the result of hapless necessity, which is what you find at La Bodeg du IXème. The weird clocks suspended on the walls and the hideous rec-room couch at the latter establishment are basically forgiveable and even kind of charming.
Anyway, what matters is the wine.
Owners Olivier Aubert (of La Bodeg du IVème, and the even-newer Les Trois Seaux in the 11ème) and Christian Penneau have put together a good selection of mostly natural wine, all of which can be had sans frais de bouchon weeknights between 18h and 20h. (If the selection is a little slim just now, chalk it up to their having opened just a few weeks ago. It'll grow.)
I passed by for an apero other night with my friends D, C, J, and C. We shared bottle of 2008 Domaine Olivier Pithon's biodynamic Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes "Cuvée Laïs," which was surprisingly enjoyable, and a mixed plate of cheese and cured meats that, surprisingly, was not. They have less kitchen facilities at this Bodeg than at the other in the 4ème, but it's not really an excuse for the sadness of the cheese / meat plate, which, as much as I hate to say it, was skimpy, strange, and totally unjustifiable at 20€. It was garnished somewhat schizophrenically with a fruit preserve, some nuts, and an ear of baby Chinese corn.
It's just a good thing I have tolerant friends. And we all seemed to like the wine, which I'd ordered only after Christian offered his reassurances that the wine, a blend of Macabeo, Grenache Gris, and Grenache Blanc, was not your typical acidless southeastern flab wine. He was absolutely right: the "Cuvée Laïs" performs a wonderful feint on the palate, starting with broad honey and apricot fruit that, just when you expect it to get fat, instead slims down to a minerally, almondy, slight barnyardy finish.
It was kind of like Vampire Weekend's inessential cover of Springsteen's "I'm Going Down" - something that could have been cloying and overdone, but which instead manages to remain pleasing, understated, and faintly exotic.**
La Bodeguita du IXème closes relatively early, at 10pm; belying its festive name, for now it's more of a neighborhood cave / low-key after work apero spot than anything else. With the winningly unpretentious vin nature destination Autour d'Un Verre around the corner on rue de Trevise, and the lively, natural-to-be wine bar Les Salles Gosses*** one street over, the neighborhood just keeps improving.
* Eating is an intimate, sensual, and ideally pleasurable experience. Eating at Derrière is kind of like sleeping with someone who is intent on simultaneously playing a video game.
** This is also just kind of an indestructible song. You could give it to the Chipmunks to cover and they'd probably turn in something worthwhile.
*** The owner tells me he's transitioning to a more natural-focused list. For the moment Domaine Breton and Domaine Arretxea are represented, although not a great deal else of interest.
La Bodeguita du IXème
17 rue Montyon
Metro: Grands Boulevards
Tel: 01 77 12 49 88
La Bodeguita du IVème, a pleasant antidote to Fashion Week
More chilling at La Bodeguita du IVème
A very recent review of the 2009 "Cuvée Laïs" by the extraordinarily animated, chainsaw-accented Aurelie Filion @ BuSurLeWeb