KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Le Bilboquet & the Paris Blues
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Friday, September 30, 2005
Le Bilboquet & the Paris Blues
So what do Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, and a little unassuming jazz club in Paris have in common? Turns out, a lot!

Le Bilboquet, Paris Blues, and the history of jazz are intrinsically intertwined as the history of jazz was written in this inimitable Belle Epoque salon founded in 1947 right in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près. Unlike America at the time, jazz was embraced here in France and racism was not pervasive so the greats headed east to Paris and Le Bilboquet.

Jazz music was immortalized at this corner club by legends Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Kenny Clarke, Duke Ellington, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gilespie, Lionel Hampton and Charlie Parker, to name a few, and the era was celebrated by Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Joanne Woodward, and Diahann Carroll in the movie Paris Blues.

Le Bilboquet is now a restaurant-jazz club-piano bar serving up some of the best music in Paris amongst dark wood panels topped with a copper ceiling, brass trim and a sunken bar on the bottom floor. The three levels offer unobstructed views of the band from every corner and on any given night you will hear Nat King Cole's "Route 66" or "Straighten Up and Fly Right" resonating from the walls. You'll catch yourself singing along and tapping your toes as it permeates your thoughts and for a moment you forget you are six thousand miles away from home...but then again, this is home. For now...

Their menu is limited with classical French light fare and a few attempts at fusion. Unfortunately it is not as legendary as their musical memoirs but if you have friends in town who are fans of the blues, this is a wonderful slice of American-French history to share. A friend and former co-worker at a Huge Software Company came to town a few weeks ago. Their yellow labrador is named Jango so I figured Le Bilboquet would be a safe bet. Voila le menu...

Avocat épicé et tartare de thon
Spicy avocado purée with tuna tartar

Melon nature
Melon (and they weren't kidding! this was a bit awkward and more like eating breakfast than an appetizer but as far a fruit goes, it was sweet and delicious)

Pavé de sandre au beurre blanc
Pike in a butter sauce

Thon juste saisi saté
Seared tuna with a soy-teriyaki sauce (this was delicious and cooked perfectly!)

Blanc de poulet rôti, chutney et curry
Roasted chicken breast with chutney and curry (the curry was really nice, not too spicy, deep layers of rich flavors)

The music was getting a bit too loud to talk so we went to a little corner bistro a few blocks away for a café and a gateau chocolate moelleux (the soft chocolate lava cake)! Sorry, forgot to take a pic of that. Next time...as there will definitely be a next time...

Le Bilboquet
13 rue St-Benoit, 75006 Paris
Phone: +33 1 45 48 81 84
Metro: (#4) St-Germain-des-Près or (#10) Mabillon
Hours: nightly 8:30pm to 2:00am, with music beginning at 9:30pm


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my family and i went to the restaurant "Le bilboquet" last saturday. We were very disappointed by the restaurant service, the waitress were cheerless. DON'T GO THERE! it's very expensive and the place is too small to hear Jazz. There are a lot of places to go to hear Jazz in Saint Germain des Prés.
Have a nice night in Paris!

11/21/2005 2:28 AM

Anonymous John and Tilly of London said...

Well anonymous, you were either unlucky or have a miserable outlook on life. We happened upon Le Bilboquet last Sunday evening and what a great find. The waitress was helpful, bilingual and as happy as could be. The food was very good as well. But the best part was the music, absolutely brilliant. A great evening out at very reasonable cost. A perfect place to hear jazz, small enough to feel a part of what is going on.

2/28/2006 1:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must agree with John and Tilly on this one. Stumbled upon this place on a recent trip and absolutely delighted that we did. Friendly man at the door and delightful waitress. Food was simple put perfectly prepared. Top quality ingredients. Very cosy interior and music was just brilliant. Ended up spending the whole night there , bopping our heads away....

11/07/2006 5:33 AM

Anonymous Soupgirl said...

I'm hunting for the soup restaurants in the bay area. Does anyone have a personal favorite? Need not be a soup restaurant, but rather a restaurant that serves amazing soups. I collect "soup" experiences like some people collect trying new micro brews. Any suggestions? I'm travelling there next month.

11/09/2006 3:13 PM


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