Wednesday, December 08, 2010

L' Avant Comptoir

L' Avant Comptoir is a little hole-in-the-wall stand-up wine bar that maybe holds 15 people if they're skinny French people. I'm guessing it would hold 12 Americans. It is located near the Odeon Metro station but I'm not saying anymore because they definitely don't need the business. Every day at lunch and on weekends it is packed and it does help a little if you know the staff. Just a little. You will still have to wait to get served by shouting over the heads at the counter, and they will most likely forget an item or two over the din.

But I have learned to just ask Eric to send 3 items out, his choice and keep the Cotes du Rhone Rouge (or his choice) flowing, unless we start with the oysters, then send one glass (pronounced vare) of Sancerre and then switch to Rouge. It helps to hit him with a 10 or 20 euro tip at the end which is quite unusual in Paris as most leave just a 1 or 2 euro tip. It gets his attention. I learned that trick at China Grill in South Beach when I was a regular back in the 90s. Hit the bartender hard on a slow night, and then when you arrive on Friday or Saturday on a busy night when it's 4 deep at the bar, he would make eye contact and ask for my order. over the wondering glances of everyone in front of me. "Who is that guy?"

Just me with a solid plan and $20 for good service.

Oh, back to the food. L' Avant offers small bites (smaller than tapas? - I'll let you know when I get back from Barcelona) that go for 3 to 6 euros. Soups are amazing, the beef tip sandwich is amazing, the sardines in butter is/are amazing, but the signature dish is the Croquettes of Ibernian jambon. I thought there was cheese inside. Nope, it's just melted ham. The picture above is the grilled foie gras and pickled peppers which is also amazing. I haven't had a bad bite yet.

The wine list (there isn't one - just ask Eric what's there today) is short, but local, small production and perfect for the setting. One of the Reds I had was amazing and I wish I could find it to take home.

So, if you can find the place, go and if I'm in town you will probably find me there with a bunch of new friends who are ex-pats as over a two week period I only went 5 times. The Odeon station is about 7 stops from my apartment. It is a great place to meet friends, have a bite and a few glasses of wine and then wander off for more serious food, but if you have no other plans then just order more wine and have Eric send out 3 more plates. And don't forget to tip your waitress.