Friday, 5 June 2009

Restaurant Review: Le Timbre (Paris)

A beautiful sunny Friday in Paris and a pretty much faultless long, lazy lunch at probably the smallest restaurant I've ever been to - Le Timbre.

In the couple of weeks leading up to our long awaited weekend staying with family in Paris I seemed to find myself way too busy to do any restaurant research whatsoever. Seriously unimpressed. So all credit for finding this little gem of a restaurant goes to my husband...

Le Timbre is a stone's throw from les jardins du Luxembourg in a little unassuming side street. It is, as it's name suggests, tiny. At best there's room for only around 20 people to eat at any one time and even then fitting everyone in at their tables is an intricate business. The minuscule kitchen with its solitary chef, Chris (originally from Manchester), is in full view of the restaurant so you see all of the food being prepared. We had the table closest to the kitchen which suited me as I could not only watch Chris at work but also have a quick chat with him and the waitress when they had time to spare (which to be honest wasn't all that often...).

We kicked off with a glass of the crémant d'alsace whilst we pondered the short, but varied menu (and whilst I translated everything for Andrew). A good start. Feeling nicely rounded at the edges we ordered and decided to go for wines by the glass. Not cheap (with the current rather poor exchange rate) but well chosen and, given that this is a capital city restaurant, certainly acceptable. I have simply no idea what we drank though...probably too much!

The service was friendly, relaxed and knowledgeable. You can ask about any dish and get a response in French or English. I don't eat meat and there was nothing on the menu without meat (even the fish dish) but that was soon sorted with a quick conversation with the waitress and the chef.

I started with the tartine d'anchois aux oignons caramelisés. I wasn't quite sure whether it was going to be superb or a total flop. Thankfully it was the former. So simple - crisp toasted bread, plump tangy anchovies and sweet sticky onions. Who would have thought that the anchovies and caramelised onions would work so well together?

Andrew went for the soupe de poisson a l'estragon. Rich and deep in flavour but unfortunately a little lost on a man who has no sense of smell.

For mains, they kindly substituted the feves au lard which were supposed to be served with my filet de dorade with some mousserons poêles. The bass was perfectly cooked with crispy skin(no mean feat in my limited experience...) and, although the little mousserons which were sauteed in butter and garlic weren't supposed to go with the fish, they did. I was so busy enjoying eating it that I completely forgot to take a photo! Andrew's main course of magret de canard aux mousserons poêles was (apparently) also top notch. Now some people may find it odd for me as a non-meat eater to put a photo of meat to put a photo of a meat dish on my blog, but I don't have an issue with Andrew (or anyone else for that matter) eating meat and I'm sure some people reading would quite like to see what his dish looked like, so here you go...

When it came to dessert there was no contest. We'd seen it pass by on the way to another table before we'd even ordered and decided we just had to leave room - mille feuille du timbre. Three layers of crispy, sweet, flaky pastry interspersed with thick, rich vanilla custard. Sublime. Quite simply sublime. Go, just for this simple, yet luxurious dessert.

In short, it's 'intimate', so much so that you feel like you're eating in someone's living room, but all the better for it. And the food is good - very, very good. A fellow northerner knocking the socks of his Parisian and international diners. Good on him.

9.5/10 (but be prepared to bang elbows with your neighbour!)

Damage: 32€ for 3 courses and wines from 4€ per glass (we had 3 courses each, 2 glasses of crémant, 4 glasses of red, 1 glass of something sweet and sickly and a bottle of sparkling water and the bill came in at around 100€)

Le Timbre
3 rue Sainte Beauve
Paris 75006
01 45 49 10 40


  1. Sounds a charming little restaurant. I used to go to Paris often, but haven't been much for many years. Perhaps it's time to think about a weekend break...

  2. It's certainly charming Kavey! To be fair, it's probably not the sort of place you'd want to go for a romantic one on one (it really is that small!) but we found it perfectly quaint for a relaxed weekday lunch. Do try it if you find yourself over there...

  3. The mille feuille du timbre sounds delicious and I like the black and white photos they look like they are from another time

  4. This looks adorable! I'm planning a trip to Paris in August, I might just take a trip to Le Timbre now, it's great to hear they were so accommodating of your requirements.

  5. This place looks amazing! Great pictures as well! I can't wait to get back to Paris (my favourite city ever!), I will definitely be seeking out Le Timbre.


  6. Thanks Gourmet Chick - I love the black and white pics too.

    Boo - they were really friendly and didn't hesiate to sort something out for me (I imagine many places in Paris wouldn't have bothered...).

    Caitlin - It's in a lovely spot just near the gardens too, so plan a lunch and then a stroll to work off the calories (and fuzzy booze head!).

    It would have been amazing value if the pound was still strong against the euro, but as it was I certainly didn't feel it was expensive for the quality. Hope they keep it up!

  7. It looks delicious! I often make a pasta sauce using anchovies and onions, fried very slowly so that they caramelise and it's a favourite of mine, so it definitely works!

  8. I was here last weekend based on countless recommendations, but for me, it just didn't work. I had the soup and mille feuille too (magret de canard for my main). I wanted to like it, I really did, but something was off.

    Service, though as you mentioned, was lovely.

    Good review!

  9. That's a real shame Melanie. I guess it goes to show that restaurants sometimes have off days... Or do you think because of all the good reviews you had higher expectations?

  10. Sounds lovely. I love visiting Paris and trying out new places. I'm not really a desert lover but the mille feuille de timbre is the kind of desert I do find hard to pass over. Did you book or just walk in?

  11. Nice to see a chef from the restaurants in Manchester making good over in Paris, cooking in full view of your diners is no easy feat.